Friday, February 11, 2000

The Cyber Scene in Seattle ~ by Larry Sivitz

Seattle Ready to Ban Trained Circus Animals, Microsoft Temps Must Jump Through Hoops
While the Seattle City Council was debating whether to ban Ringling Brother's Pondering Pachyderms and other commercially-employed circus animals from working city venues, a packed hearing under the capitol dome tent in Olympia showed the snarling teeth of high-tech workers vs. whip-cracking personnel staffing ringmasters. At issue was how disclosure of employment agency bill rates (the amount an agency charges a client company, NOT what the employee gets paid), would affect workers and employers. Staffing companies compared billing information to a "trade secret" claiming that disclosure would undermine competition in the marketplace. Workers disagreed. "The trade secret argument makes it sound like we are dealing with the formula to Coke," said WashTech co-founder Marcus Courtney to the House committee. "But the billing rate is neither the formula to Coke, nor a trade secret since the client company knows and the agency knows -- it is time that high-tech workers know what is being charged for their labor." Senate Bill 6165, which would restore the right to overtime pay for hourly high-tech workers, is currently stalled in the state Senate. Meanwhile, the circus animals will continue working for peanuts. Please don't feed the Webmasters. "Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo." The Seattle Online Network's monthly gathering at the watering hole will be held next week at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. Feeding time for Seattle's creatures of the Net will feature the fresh marketing morsels of John Durham, VP of Sales for Winstar Interactive, Raynu Sood navigator of DoubleClick's Seattle outpost, Maggie Boyer, Director of Media for Avenue A, (and formerly iballs), and Nicole Hammes Cole & Weber's Media Planning Supervisor, who has been paper training the PETSmart account. Pardon me, are those baboons over there or your coders?
You GO URL, the Internet business of The Walt Disney Co. that oversees some of the Web's strongest brands, has moved 250 employees from the east-of-the-lake offices in Bellevue to the historic Smith Tower in Seattle's Pioneer Square.'s Seattle-based cadre represents a variety of properties, including the editorial and engineering teams for, (and that site's successful fantasy game development team); production for, and all editorial, production and tech teams for entertainment sites Mr. Showbiz and Wall of Sound. Fifty additional employees will remain in the Westin Building in downtown Seattle overseeing the Web Operations Center that houses a total of 493 servers, including 96 database servers that support 1,206 databases. Smith Tower, an engineering marvel when it was built in 1914, was the tallest building west of the Mississippi until the latter half of the century. Today, after undergoing extensive upgrades, the Smith Tower has become home to many of the region's most promising technology companies. Artsy-Smartsy If it's the first Thursday of the month, it's the traditional Art Walk in Pioneer Square when the galleries stay open late to host the peripatetic art scenesters. The Seattle arts community has taken center stage recently, first in Thomas Orton's debut novel, The Lost Glass Plates of Wilfred Eng, which is being laudably compared to John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman or Henry James's The Aspern Papers. Recent media-centricity has also thrown the spotlight on the cinematic debut of Snow Falling On Cedars, the acclaimed best-seller written by local resident (and neighbor) David Guterson. If you've got a hankerin' for fresh popcorn and jaw-dropping digital sound, visit Paul Allen's lavishly refurbished Cinerama theater. Tell 'em Bill sent ya'. DVDay Trippers The date February 2 has long been associated with such historic debuts as baseball's National League (1876), basketball's ABA (1967) and in the world of entertainment technology, the first 45-RPM vinyl record (1949). It is also on this date that Seattle's M-2K was somewhat anti-climactically born. Yet, the DVD development firm has triumphantly outlasted the 20th century with its Bubblegum Crisis DVD series of hot-selling anime titles and the F/A-18E Super Hornet Attack, the first flight simulation on DVD-ROM. Coming attractions? The company intends to promote the Websites and covering the the best of DVD sites on the web, with discussion boards, movie and hardware reviews and more.
Here's an unabashed plug for THIS WEEK'S BEST IN-SITES, a witty Web wrap-up of the week's single best sites in Advertising, Marketing, Media, E-Com, E-Mail, Better Ideas, Power Tools and more. Edited by leading Seattlelite Larry Sivitz. It's FREE just for sending the word "subscribe" to