Interview with Seth Vincent

The journalist behind the journalism, Seth builds websites & is developing an open-source tool that makes it possible to report remarkable things.


Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.

A: I make websites. I usually make websites related to journalism and civic engagement. And usually the real work of making these websites isn't creating the visual style or writing the code, but designing the experience and building the community around the website.

Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

A: Before moving to Seattle in 2012 I worked as a student newspaper advisor in Olympia, WA. Before that I studied journalism, writing, design, and programming at the Evergreen State College. Before that I made weird zines. Most of my interests and activities are now the same as they were 10 years ago, but I do less work that involves paper and more work that lives on the internet.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: My primary project is an open source tool for collaboratively editing data called Flatsheet. It's a way for people to manage a bunch of data sets as a team, then use that data to build maps/visualizations, etc. It's designed for journalists and others who often have to curate small data sets.

Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: I joined Impact Hub for the building. It's a wonderful space for getting work done. What I didn't expect is that there would be a welcoming, engaging community that I could join and learn from.

Q: How do you make money?

A: My project Flatsheet is grant-funded, and I also do some project-based consulting around it. I write books and teach workshops about Javascript. For the last 2+ years I've been freelancing, doing a wide range of design and programming projects.

Q: What is something that really excites you right now?

A: Over the holiday break I time-traveled to 1994 where 10-year-old me would do nothing but play video games at my grandparent's house. I've played a wierdly big amount of video games this winter. Deal with that, everybody.

Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: With half I would create a grant-making program that offers small grants for projects that address local civic issues. With the other half I'd invest in companies that experiment with new business models for journalism.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you?

A: I'm continuing work with Flatsheet by the support of a recent grant, and gradually transitioning from being a "freelancer" that takes random jobs to running a consulting company with a team of people.

Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub?

A: The 1st floor is the best floor. The 2nd floor can be a little too quiet for me.


Q: What is something we don’t know?

A: I used to live in a bookstore.

Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems!

A: Sentris is a really great music game made by a Seattle-based game designer. Also, I can't stop liking Cafe Racer. If you see a flier for a band called "iji", you should go to that show.


Contact Seth at [email protected].