Paul Andrews

February 15, 2009

TechFlash: My guest column on Microsoft’s new retail stores

TechFlash gets online journalism

TechFlash gets online journalism

TechFlash, started by John Cook and Todd Bishop, former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporters, is a rarity: Professional journalists who truly get the Web. I’ve admired John’s and Todd’s work for years of course and was intrigued and surprised when they launched, given that most projos have resisted throwing their fates (and healthy salaries) to the vast ether of online journalism. But they quickly established that they know what they’re doing. When Todd asked if I’d be interested in contributing a guest post, I jumped at the chance.

My ultimate hope remains a Seattle-based, locally focused version of Huffington Post. The technology slice of such a publication would look a lot like what TechFlash is already doing.

My guest post looks at where Microsoft is headed with its foray into retail stores.

January 2, 2009

Our House In Seattle

Here’s a little about who we are and our house in Seattle.

Cecile (cecileandrews.com) is a former community college administrator, has her doctorate in education from Stanford, and is the author of Circle of Simplicity, Slow is Beautiful, and Less is More. Paul, a former Seattle Times technology columnist, is the co-author of Gates, the biography of Bill, and How the Web was Won. He is an avid mountain bike rider and hosts the Web site, Bike Intelligencer. He also manages a number of Web sites.

Hello from Seattle!

Hello from our back yard in Seattle!

We are always accompanied by our Bichon Frise, Millie. Which is one reason we offer to allow a small dog as well.

Bichons are camera hogs

Bichons are camera hogs!

Our house in Seattle was built in 1929, has hardwood floors, and a gas fireplace insert. It is close to, and has a view of, Green Lake (a small lake, 3 miles around, heavily used by walkers and bicyclists). Our house is adjacent to the Woodland Park Zoo and a big city park with picnic areas, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, and oval running tracks. We are about 3 miles west of the University of Washington, 4 miles north of downtown Seattle, and about 4 miles east of Puget Sound.

We live in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, a casual, relaxed, neighborhood committed to progressive issues and sustainability. It is close to a small business district with an independent bookstore, small cafes, good restaurants and two bus lines. We’re just blocks from the Puget Consumers Co-op, one of the oldest food co-ops in the country.

Here are some photos, and feel free to contact us with questions, etc. Cecile is cecile@cecileandrews.com and Paul is paul@paulandrews.com. Or simply click here.

From the street

From the street

Lots of light in our house; this is dining room

Lots of light in our house; this is dining room

Kitchen gets light from east and south

Kitchen gets light from east and south

And there's a light, airy kitchen nook as well

And there\’s a light, airy kitchen nook as well

Big living room, overlooking Green Lake

Big living room, overlooking Green Lake

And a gas fireplace insert for heat and ambience

And a gas fireplace insert for heat and ambience

January 1, 2009

Finally, A Year To Look Forward To

Eight years ago I started blogging, becoming just the second full-time daily newspaper staffer (after Dan Gillmor) to write a blog. What motivated me, besides the prescience of Web agitator and uberblogger Dave Winer’s warning that print media were headed for the technological scrap heap, was the incipient presidency of George W. Bush. From the time he was elected, if that’s the right term given the Supreme Court’s circumvention of due process and its de facto anointment of King George, I had a terrible sinking feeling about the future. George Bush, as I wrote in my very first blog, would come to be known as the greatest president since Herbert Hoover.

My reference point was simply Hoover’s incompetence, his inability to process reality, his boneheaded allegiance to Republican dogma when creative alternatives were obviously in order. I was not even sure Bush would actually be worse than Hoover. But today I think of Bush as not just America’s worst president ever, but the biggest loser of all time. Think of it. As Molly Ivins and Michael Moore documented so well, everything George W. Bush has touched in his life has turned to clay. He’s just that kind of guy, and documenting how he managed to run a great and powerful country from wealth and stature so far into the ditch will provide historians a vast and endless quest of explication.

When I started blogging, the most frequently used term was “Web log,” and only Internet cognoscenti even knew what it meant. Blogging’s evolution roughly tracked that of email: First people asked what it was. Then they asked why they needed it. Then it became the primary way they communicated. You cannot really have a presence on the Web without a blog, although what that really means for most people is a kind of calling card rather than, say, a personal Huffington Post. Many of the early bloggers, in fact, including the coiner of the term and Winer and Gillmor, hardly blog at all compared with what they once did. There are too many other mechanisms for communicating on the Web — everything from social networks to YouTube to Twitter.

I blogged almost daily for nearly two years before cutting back, starting again, then stopping. Blogging well is harder than it looks (for one thing, you have to know how to edit your own copy). And time-consuming. Plus it was not going to pay any bills.

But I’m starting up again because I feel we’re getting close to some sort of economic viability (if not quite a business model). Perhaps it would be more accurate to say we have to come up with some sort of economic viability. Because newspapers are indeed going down in flames, and something has to replace them if we’re to maintain a healthy democracy. I should not say “replace” because newspaper journalism does not translate to the Web, that is, the (purportedly) objective voice and truth delivered from Mount Olympus. We need the truth more than ever, but it has to be conveyed in a way that is compelling, meaningful, relevant and most of all unfiltered. Life in America is so entrenched with dishonesty that the primary function of news today is simply dismantling the dissemblance.

Newspapers may indeed be going down in flames. But the process will have to play out, it seems, like the fable of the Phoenix, where the pyre must be lit and the bird consumed before it can rise from the ashes.

January 28, 2008

Am I that Paul Andrews?

Good day to you. There are a lot of Paul Andrews out there. This is the one I am.

Career journalist and columnist for The Seattle Times, co-author of a biography of Bill Gates, and lifelong bike nut. I covered the environment in the 1970s, wrote Sunday magazine features in the 1980s and covered technology in the 1990s, starting a weekly column on personal computers in 1989 that continued through 2005. Along the way I’ve also written for US News & World Report, the San Jose Mercury  News, Fortune magazine, The New York Times and other publications. I co-authored (with Stephen Manes) a biography of Bill Gates called Gates — How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry and Made Himself the Richest Man in America and wrote a book about Microsoft’s Internet “epiphany” called How the Web Was Won.

I began blogging in 2000, using Dave Winer’s UserLand Manila software. An early essay, “Who Are Your Gatekeepers?”, about the breakdown of publishing filters, got widely linked. It seemed obvious that the gatekeeping function of traditional media would disintegrate, which I thought was a good thing. I didn’t think as much about how Web journalism would get funded, which is a bad thing.

My first blog was called Hypodermia

My first blog was called Hypodermia

Currently I do a lot of Web work but not always credited. I’ve written for Seattle blog HorsesAss and online news site Crosscut. I maintain several sites for my wife Cecile Andrews, author of Circle of Simplicity and Slow Is Beautiful, including her personal site and her Living Room Revolution blog.

Cecile and I divide our time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, California, where we are part of a co-housing community called Walnut Commons. My most active blog right now is BikeIntelligencer.com, mixing news, analysis and opinion on a variety of bicycling fronts. I’m an absolutely insane bicyclist and mountain biker. I go pretty much everywhere on bike in Seattle, because compared to car transit from my home near Green Lake I can match or beat point-to-point travel times to the University of Washington, downtown and most neighborhoods north of downtown. Most anywhere I’ve ever lived, including San Francisco, Palo Alto and now Santa Cruz, has been the same story. If a place isn’t within riding distance, I think hard about even going there.

Even snow can't stop me

Even snow can't stop me

For companionship there’s my bichon frise, Millie. All dog owners think their dog is the smartest, handsomest, best dog in the world. Only bichon frise owners are correct.

Terminally cute

Terminally cute

Thanks for stopping by. If I’m not the Paul Andrews you were looking for, best of luck finding him.

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