Kurt Kohlstedt

Kurt Ko | Urbanist, Digital Nomad & De Facto CEO

Seattle Interactive Conference 2013: Super Apps vs the Open Web

seattle interactive conference 2013

The 2013 Seattle Interactive Conference featured independent viral sensations to seasoned Fortune 50 representatives and much in between. The messages were diverse, but at least one thread emerged to tie many of them together:  more people are spending more time outside the web-as-such and inside so-called ‘Super Apps’ – hub spaces like Google, Facebook and so forth.

The urbanist in me is reminded of suburban shopping malls: they may look and even feel like public space, but they are not the same thing as the open web and users may wish to remain wary of conflating the two. This goes well beyond the shift away from desktops to mobile devices in its implications, but could also easily be overstated: there will always be ways to stay on the more independent frontiers of the media and technology, too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Technology Week: TechStars Demo Day 2013 Wrap Report

BusinessInsider suggests we may be in another tech bubble, and while the eleven Demo Day presenters from Seattle TechStars were impressive, the valuations (and the level of fundraising already accomplished pre-demonstration) were also surprising. Each presentation was well-executed and all of the presenters show promise, but, at the same time, it was not clear which, if any, are poised to break uniquely new ground in their respective spaces. Read the rest of this entry »

Scale Shift: Interface Redesign to Accommodate All Shapes & Sizes

A long time ago I decided on a fixed-width approach for our publications. For a while, it worked, but the game is changing again, thanks in no small part to a sharp increase in mobile users and touch interfaces, on the one hand, and ever-larger desktop screen sizes with higher resolutions, on the other. So how does a digital publisher move past analysis paralysis, begin to redesign around a widening spectrum of present possibilities as well as future unknowns? Read the rest of this entry »

Efficient Frontiers: Will the Sharing Economy be Cooperative or Co-Opted?

What do 3D printing technologies, social lending platforms and co-working spaces have in common? It is tempting to answer that they are all part of the new sharing economy – a playground of possibilities including open source and peer-to-peer endeavors in a new creative commons. Yet if history repeats (or at least rhymes), the democratizing effects of these developments may be overrated. What they do share for certain, though, is a impressive and praise-worthy shift toward increased efficiency and (consequently) resource sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Mapping the Missing Middle: Subjective Geography & Variable Scale

So you are visiting San Diego, but where should you stay? No, not: which hotel … but which neighborhood? And which other neighborhoods do you want to visit on your trip? At one extreme, we have global, national, regional and city maps that show us a static picture of bland geographical basics. At the other end of the spectrum, we have local neighborhood, street and block maps featuring confusing pointillist specifics. What do these have in common?

Read the rest of this entry »

Coworking in SoCal: Reviewing San Diego Coffeeshops for Freelancers

Yelp!, FourSquare and TripAdvisor are great for regular consumers and travelers, but what about those of us looking for coffee shops based on other criteria, like: the loudness of music, the availability of seating and plugins and the general vibe for sitting and working? Eschewing coworking spaces on this trip, Mike and I spent most of our productive time in coffee shops both close to and far from our home base in downtown San Diego. Here are some thoughts for anyone interested in following suit, covering 12 locations across 7 popular neighborhoods: Read the rest of this entry »

Misplaced Mail: 5 Most Common Emails Sent to me as Editor in Chief

My editorial inbox would drive me insane were I not able to derive some humor from its contents. If you are looking to pitch your [insert concept, product, project, video or cat pictures here] to someone managing an online magazine, newspaper or blog, please consider these the best ways to be ignored and/or summarily deleted. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Weeks in China, Without Being Shanghaied

I applied for and received a visa to travel in China for two weeks, part of the time with family and guides and some on my own as well. Major stops are highlighted below, but alas, notably absent is Shanghai, which I would still very much like to visit in the future. Though it is not a surprise, based on past travel experience: it was not the landmark destinations that make the trip memorable, but surprises found in alleys, on escalators and in other less-traditional locations. Read the rest of this entry »

21 Tools of the Trade: The Slow Accretion of Useful Services

It all started with GoDaddy, Dreamhost and WordPress – one domain reservation, one hosting company, one content management system installation, and two friends who graciously humored my desire to do something with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Double Down: Detroit then Denver in 10 Days

Two cities could hardly be more different – a historic town filled with decaying architectural wonders (overtly at an all-time low) and another booming and spreading (though eerily suburban outside of the downtown area). But what Detroit lacks in density it makes up for in potential – and Denver feels almost fake or temporary, surrounded by a sprawl of cabin-styled, wood-framed mini-resorts that serve as suburbs. Read the rest of this entry »