Micah Saul: This project is built on a hypothesis. There are moments in history when the status quo fails. Political systems prove insufficient, religious ideas unsatisfactory, social structures intolerable. These are moments of crisis.
Aengus Anderson: During some of these moments, great minds have entered into conversation and torn apart inherited ideas, dethroning truths, combining old thoughts, and creating new ideas. They’ve shaped the norms of future generations.
Saul: Every era has its issues, but do ours warrant The Conversation? If they do, is it happening?
Anderson: We’ll be exploring these sorts of questions through conversations with a cross‐section of American thinkers, people who are critiquing some aspect of normality and offering an alternative vision of the future. People who might be having The Conversation.
Saul: Like a real conversation, this project is going to be subjective. It will frequently change directions, connect unexpected ideas, and wander between the tangible and the abstract. It will leave us with far more questions than answers because after all, nobody has a monopoly on dreaming about the future.
Anderson: I’m Aengus Anderson.
Saul: And I’m Micah Saul. And you’re listening to The Conversation.
Aengus Anderson: So I hear you’re on location, locked up in a car in Portland, Oregon.
Micah Saul: Indeed I am. Left San Francisco Monday afternoon, and I am taking a two‐week drive to New York City.
Anderson: Where we are going to actually be recording in the same room again.
Anderson: So our idiotic banter is just going to degenerate.
Saul: Oh, good.
Anderson: So, with that foreshadowing aside, let’s talk about Jenny Lee from the Allied Media Project.
Saul: Yes. So, she’s based in Detroit. And we found her because we were looking for…well, something related to media. And we found the Allied Media Conference, which happens every year in Detroit. We were hoping that you were going to be able to get there in time to go to the conference itself, but that didn’t really happen. But you did get to talk to her.
Anderson: Yes. The conference is an amazing thing, and we don’t talk about it a whole lot in this conversation. We get into a lot of other issues and we get into them fast. But the conference is certainly worth looking into more. We’ll put a link on our website. It’s largely designed by the participants. There’s really not a lot of stuff like this. So that’s what led us to Jenny. And the Allied Media Projects, which is the group that puts on the Allied Media Conference, they’re tied up with several different organizations in Detroit, the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, which has a bunch of other little branches that is doing Detroit youth programs and Detroit media programs. So, Jenny and the Allied Media folks are really busy year‐round. The conference is their big event, but there’s a lot of other stuff they do.
In our conversation, we spend a lot of time talking about the bigger picture stuff. What’s a better media landscape? What’s wrong with the current media landscape? What is digital justice, anyway?
Saul: You then jump off from there and start talking about much larger things. Class comes back in this conversation in a big way, which I think is is really cool. So, this is Jenny Lee.
Jenny Lee: Allied Media Projects as a organization based in Detroit that facilitates a national network of media makers, technologists, community organizers, educators. And that national network convenes in Detroit every year for the Allied Media Conference. And since moving to Detroit in 2007, the conference has really deposited a lot of nutrients in the soil, so to speak, here in Detroit, both in terms of tangible resources like radio transmitters that’ve been built, and just ideas around the possibilities of media as it integrates with social transformation work. We belong to the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, which believes that communication is a fundamental human right.
Anderson: What is digital justice, and why do we care?
Lee: It’s not a term that I think is used a lot. We were the the second Digital Justice Coalition to form in the country, that I’m aware of. The first one was in Philadelphia, and for them it meant something specific to their context. For us in Detroit, there’s actually like four core principles. The first one being access. And that’s access to, in a lot of cases, life‐saving information that increasingly is only available to those who are connected to the global Internet. You can’t really get a job, have the kinds of—you don’t have basic rights of citizenship if you don’t have access to the Internet. You know as a student, as a young person, homework assignments that are given, healthcare administration, the administration of lot of public benefits and things like that. Increasingly online, everything like—the world is moving online.
The second principle is really important, too, which is participation. Our communities deserve the right to engage with the Internet as producers and not only as consumers. With this sort of prevailing framework around why the Internet is important, is that I think too often it can be reduced down to “everyone deserves the right to apply for a job at Walmart online.” And for us that’s just like, such a lack of vision, I suppose, in what is possible for the world. So we suffer from the absence of the content that people who are currently marginalized on the Internet, from access to the internet, would otherwise be producing.
Lee: And within that is this idea that those of us that have been most marginalized or most misrepresented by the stories that get told through mainstream media should be prioritized in creating digital justice infrastructures or programs that foster that participation.
Common ownership is another. So, part of digital justice in Detroit is looking at different structures for the deployment of communications infrastructure. So, not just assuming that we need fiber optic cable to be laid by Comcast and AT&T and then the people that own the cables are also the ones who own the major mechanisms of distributing content over them, and then there’s this total handing over of power and control of the infrastructure to those corporations that most users of the Internet aren’t even aware of or thinking about.
What the Digital Justice Coalition is doing is the construction of mesh wireless networks. They’re really powerful because they’re both a mechanism to lower the costs of Internet, lower the barrier to entry to the Internet, for communities, because [it] allows neighbors to share connections with each other.
But what’s more interesting about them is that they can actually become intranets. That’s what we’re experimenting with here in Detroit, is the idea that through these routers which allow signals to bounce from router to router, creating a mash, that communities can share information that doesn’t even require them to go out to the global Internet. It’s a process of building out communications infrastructure that actually builds upon and fosters more human communication infrastructure. They’re the same relationships that would undergird the construction of a community garden. The basic idea that like people want to collaborate and share a resource and solve problems together.
And the the fourth is healthy communities, which means a few different things, but thinking about our communication environment as part of the natural environment, and not just another dimension. So, awareness around where all of our technologies end up. Digital justice does not mean a laptop per child, which will be used for five years and end up in a landfill that will poison that same child. Or just the construction of all these technologies that necessitate outside expert knowledge to fix. We do a lot of stuff around recycling and salvaging computer parts. It consists of a lot of different kinds of experiments, with a vision for a healthy digital ecology.
And that’s, I think, Detroit through and through. That’s the ethic and the spirit of so much of the community organizing work here in Detroit. We do have rights and they need to be respected. And there’s human rights legislation that exists in the world for a reason, and we actually have very little faith that the institutions of power, be they corporations or city governments or state governments, are going to provide those rights or guarantee those rights. And that in that loss of faith is actually an affirmation of the faith that people here have with each other to figure out how to survive, and beyond that create whole new ways of being together as communities and learning together, feeding each other, providing safety for each other. All these are just different mechanisms of infrastructure that are right now emerging in Detroit.
Anderson: We’ve just talked a lot about the elements of digital justice, but I’d like to into to the why a little more. What does Detroit look like if none of this stuff changes? What’s our worst‐case scenario? Like, why why pursue these things?
Lee: Well, the worst‐case scenario for Detroit would be that the architecture of the Internet as it is now continues, and Detroiters’ stories, voices, lives, are absent. And the New York Times story about the creative class saving Detroit, or the documentary about the abandonment and wholesale destruction of Detroit that portrays it as a wasteland and a blank canvas ready for entrepreneurial exploitation, that those stories are defining the national, the global imagination of what Detroit is. And that those stories, they don’t use influence people’s desire to come here and do those things and live that life, though that’s part of it, but it also shapes the perception of people inside the city. Because that sense, that really vital sense of Detroit as home to all this richness and creativity, deep‐rooted community, that’s not necessarily held by everyone here who are part of the home. So it’s like, so much of the perception for young people who are born and raised here is this is a place to escape.
And then to the extent that those narratives, whether the wasteland narrative or the creative class narrative, don’t include them, don’t include a young person who grew up here who’s now in high school or maybe dropped out I school or is otherwise just sort of navigating life. If they can’t see a place for themselves in there, then to the extent that they’re engaged in media and thinking about their life and their future, it’ll be a future away from the city. And then that’s just perpetuating that reality, that it is a wasteland, because all of the creative, awesome—you know, the energies of young people that could otherwise be transforming it are leaving.
The Internet provides this available text through which to read the city. And if that text makes invisible the layers of community, and life, and fundamentally the home that Detroit is, then it becomes this…something to be experimented with and sold in different ways, like without regard for long‐term impacts. That would be the worst‐case scenario, is that fundamental misperception and mythology continue to obscure the really vital truth, and truths, about the city.
Anderson: It seems like there’s sort of an interesting tension there, right? On the one hand you work and work and work and you create this ecology of voices. And maybe Detroit is now well‐represented. And yet, there are now so many voices that maybe people instinctually go for just a few voices, because we’ve sort of hit the limits of what we can understand? I don’t know. That’s been something that’s popped up in this conversation series a lot, the idea that one of the interesting things about the time we live in is this massive proliferation of information that so far exceeds our ability to comprehend as these puny little biological creatures that only have so much time in the day to read things.
Lee: But that’s where I think the process of media‐making is transformative. I think that’s why we prioritize that so much, is because at the end of the day the goal of the the youth media that’s being produced out of Detroit Summer downstairs isn’t necessarily to compete with The New York Times as far as shaping the national imagination. It may do that, and of course our hope is that those videos travel far and wide, but that it’s the sense of agency that’s built amongst the people who produce that video and had the process of constructing a truth out of their own communities’ stories and experiences, and being able to synthesize those different truths into an investigation of a problem in the community, or a collectively‐generated solution to a problem, and to be able to put that out in the world on the global Internet, but also amongst their peers in their own community, and use that piece of media as a jumping‐off point for a discussion.
I guess the hopefulness in it and the lesson the Detroit offers in some ways is just the value of relationships, and how your authentic offline relationships can actually impact your experience of this online world. For me, I’ve recently gotten to this point where I just can’t even deal with following the rabbit holes of articles on Facebook or things like that. Or going to news sites every morning and reading and just consuming the Internet. I can’t even absorb it all. And so I found, for the most part, if I end up reading an article online it’ll be because of this person that I know, who I have a relationship with, emailed me and was like, “Hey, this is really relevant to the such and such.” Or it comes up in conversation in offline space like, “Yo, you should check out that.”
And then those rely on all of the people around me to be constantly scouring the Internet for relevant media to me. But there was just a realization that that’s been how I’ve chosen to process the information overwhelm that’s online. It’s sort of like a form of a local media diet, in a sense. With this obsession of localism of like, your food comes from the people that live down the street, or the chicken that you know, and the value in that. And I think similarly with our media diets and what we are consuming, there’s a sense of…definitely a loss of a sense of self when you’re you’re so like, consuming the globe. And what you can consume is never‐ending.
Anderson: So there’s almost like…part of digital justice is almost the process of making media to establish some sense of who you are as a local person, somewhere.
Lee: Yeah, in a place, in a community, and in a set of relationships. There’s a level of injustice in the way that the digital information economy is positioning communities in relationship to each other, and in positioning individuals in relationship to each other.
Anderson: This is really interesting, because this almost frames this whole conversation as something which is a tension between the local and the global. We talk a little bit about the critique of the present. But I also like to get into something that’s like, what does a good future look like. So, with media for instance, know what are some of the values that the media conference are going after?
Lee: It’s funny, in technologist realms there’s so much talk about how the Internet can solve different problems. Whether it’s the problem of civic engagement, or the problem of youth violence. Or all these different like, that the site of our problems is located on the Internet, when the Internet is reflecting back to us all these problems embedded in our broken relationships as humans to each other or communities, or within city government structures like, others— Relationships are just…in shambles in so many ways.
And so what the conference has really strived to do is be a really transformative physical space in which relationships are formed. And they’re formed through the many‐to‐many transmission of ideas. Because I think what is missing from the kind of like, citizen journalist, blogging culture that was created on response to the one‐too‐many model, is that there was many, but they weren’t many‐to‐many in the sense of like, I feel like the early 2000s blogging culture was about individual voice, still not in actual dialogue—
Lee: —in the ways that relationships can form.
Anderson: Sort of shouting into the void.
Lee: Exactly. And so the conferences has been a space where people form these really intimate relationships. How does that intersection allow us to understand a problem in a more holistic way, and then ultimately generate a solution that is the most realistic thing?
Anderson: Do you think that could happen in a digital setting, or is this something that has to use the digital to create that physical space?
Lee: We need to figure out how to do that type of relationship‐building offline in order for it to ever exist online.
Anderson: Oh, so you think that that doesn’t even happen really in an offline sense much.
Lee: No. I mean, I think that’s the challenge, is that we can’t expect the online realm to do things as far as fostering of human relationships that we haven’t yet figured out how to do offline. I can’t think of that many successful examples, actually. But when you’re asking about what is the hopeful future, is that…I guess that we had communications infrastructure that could really foster that sense of place and the interweaving of relationships in our physical places. And that I think would ultimately enable us to engage with the tools available now in the global Internet with much more of a sense of power and agency over what we want that space to mean to us, and how we want it to be a part of our lives, versus kind of being swallowed by it.
Anderson: What is the world that we want to exist?
Lee: Well, I think it’s one that’s going to unfold out of the participation of everyone, but especially people who are right now most marginalized from the power structure, like the smooth functioning of the system as it is right now. The world that we live in right now is not working for the sustainability of the planet and the fullest potential of who humans can be. The most holistic solutions to most problems are going to [be] ones that come from situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression. That it’s actually really hard to see what is the world we want to live in, when we’re not the one being most harmed by the way it’s functioning currently.
So there’s ways in which the world needs to change that I’m not even aware of, because I can’t take in the full dimensions of the problem that needs to be solved.
Anderson: So, class has come up just a little bit in this project. Race…gender…I don’t know if anyone’s really mentioned them. Not much. Which is interesting because I’ve been talking to a lot of people about the future. And of course what you just said is that it’s kind of impossible to talk or even to really fully understand possibilities for the future until you have a lot of different people in it, and that part of this media conversation is knowing that a lot of people aren’t having that conversation about the future. There are a lot of people who benefit from society as is. Who are already in control of the one‐to‐many media. How do we start remedying that? How do we work towards this future that we don’t even know how how to dream about yet?
Lee: I think it’s just seeing it where people are involved, and where people are already changing, enacting the solutions that they need. Whether it’s impoverished communities that have been destroyed by industries like the auto industry, communities of color that are bearing the brunt of environmental pollution in most cities. And you know, the first most important thing is understanding that people within those places are already taking action within their own lives to remedy those things. And in a lot of instances are using the media to do that.
I mean, the Allied Media Conference brings together and highlights that reality clearer than any other thing in this country. It’s the encouragement for other communities who have every reason to say, “Oh, we’re so powerless against these forces of oppression,” to actually be realizing their own power. We need to do this whether or not it’s a viable systemic solution, or something. I think a lot of people’s approach to social change could be like, “Well, if it’s not the perfect plan and we have everyone on board and it’s all gonna work, then it’s not worth doing,” versus we are doing this because we have to and, we’re going to do the best that we can with what we have. That may lead us into relationships with other people who are doing the best they can with what they have.
Anderson: I want to start gathering some threads together from this conversation. And we’ve talked about a lot of different things that are good, implicitly and explicitly. Seems like a sense of self, and sense of place seem like they’ve both popped up as ideas of good. Relationships with other people, and community as a broader network of relationships with other people. Seems like there’s a real sense of egalitarianism that’s come up as good. Why are these things good?
Lee: I guess it’s like the relationship between sense of self and sense of community is not just good for the people who are most oppressed by the current global power structure. I think it’s for people… I guess like free market capitalists who are just like, “Let it do its thing,” and like, “You work hard, you’re good, you…” that that results in the loss of those people’s humanity as well.
There’s just a certain like a…a lie in that, in the sense that that attitude allows you to ignore the interdependence that’s at the heart of the species, and the species’ relationship to the planet. Like, as long as your health and well‐being exists at the expense of someone else’s. And I think maybe for a lot of libertarians, their view of the world may be so segmented that they don’t see a correlation between one’s ability to just sort of thrive within capitalism and be successful, and that that comes at the expense of someone else. I think that lack of awareness around the interdependency of all things results in a truncating of your own sense of self to be…one isn’t really fully human in that context, I think.
Anderson: This makes me think of a conversation I had with a guy who’s an economist and a member of the Club of Rome, and when I was asking him about the future and making it better, we were talking a lot about sustainability and economic and economic injustice. And he’s talking about, “You need to change the story. You just need a narrative that tells people that they’re part of a bigger thing.” And I thought that was a really interesting approach to it. When he was talking about that, I was thinking, how do you tell the story with media? And here we are talking about media, and in a way we’ve kind of come back to that story, almost, through the back door.
Lee: Yeah. There is that story that been part of so many different cultures like, we are all relations, that’s embedded in so much Native American spirituality and just cultural identity, like we’re all relations. Or like, in all kinds of different religious contexts. So this leaves me to this year at the AMC, the opening ceremony was actually about this concept of the Species Self. Species‐level storytelling. The person who came up with that term is a woman named Thenmozhi Soundararajan. So, she did this presentation about this moment for the species, and this moment in the availability of communication tools and infrastructure as a call for the Species Self as a new narrative entity that would not just do the things that this economist you mentioned was talking about, but fundamentally break down the idea that in order for my self to exist it has to be in opposition to the non‐self or the other. And that that creation, that constant creation of the other has allowed systems of colonization, and global capitalism, and enslavement…I mean, throughout the history of humanity has been rooted in a sense of self that required an other that both allowed its existence and threatened its existence.
Anderson: These ideas of the good, we are always talking about these things. And this project is called The Conversation for a reason, the idea that at these different historical moments people have come together, there’s been a zeitgeist. And they’ve pulled apart the old assumptions, and they’ve come up with new ideas. Do you think we are living in a time now that needs anything like that? Any sort of fundamental critique of where we’re going?
Lee: I think the thing about paradigm shifts is that you’re in the middle of—you know like, we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift. It’s not something that gets called for and then someone leads it. It happens. It’s an emergent process.
Anderson: But do you think that people in them can recognize them?
Lee: I think there’s a lot of people right now that are aware that we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift.
Anderson: Do you think there is sort of a zeitgeist? Is there something that people are generally talking about? Or are these just a bunch of fragmented groups, like these transhumanists don’t seem like they’re talking to these environmentalists, and they don’t seem like they’re talking to these other people, and…
Lee: Well, it’s fascinating to hear you tell the story about the economist who basically is calling for exactly the same thing that we’ve been talking about, as far as a narrative that propels our sense of ourselves, as humans away from individual protagonists to more of a collective sense of us as protagonists with shared fates and… I don’t know. I mean, maybe it’s the idea of not just capitalism but capitalism as it’s paired with representative democracy, as a paradigm in which we’ve existed for a long time.
In a lot of the places that I see this feeling of paradigm shift happening, it feels like there’s more… Like we’re moving towards a paradigm that’s more participatory, that involves participation of self in relation to community. There’s the sight of figuring out there that it gets abdicated in the relationship within representative democracy, where you’re like, “I just need to work at my job, and pay my taxes, and I’ll receive these services, and I’ll vote for this person who will make the decisions for me,” and it’s more transactional, and it accommodates the individual lot more. Versus what will happen is, the fate of everything is up to me, or that I’m capable and I’m an active participant in the unfolding of the future. If there is a common thread around how people are moving through the world now that to me amounts to a paradigm shift, that’s one of the ways in which I see it.
Aengus Anderson: So. Media. It’s really in the project now, in a substantive way. It seemed like we really actually missed a lot of media‐related conversation when we were talking Andrew Keen, but we’ve got it now and we’ve got it in spades.
Micah Saul: And we’ve we’ve touched on it in various other places, although not necessarily by name. You know, we talked to Cameron Whitten, who says that we…you know, how do you change people’s minds? Well, through advertising. We’ve talked about changing the story a lot, but now to actually have it for real is awesome, and I know further down the line we’re gonna get it some more.
Anderson: This conversation seemed to be a lot about media and class. And I think later we’ll probably talk more about media structurally as a technological system.
Saul: Right. Again, as we said in the intro, class is another thing that we’ve surprisingly not had much of, and it was great to have two sort of underrepresented themes front and center in this one.
Anderson: Yeah, and I mean let’s just start in with the idea of class and media coming together and how do you have the conversation when a lot of people aren’t represented at the table.
Saul: Right. I really liked her sort of rejection of an attempt to define an ideal future when everyone’s not at the table. As Cameron Whitten put it, most of the people involved in the project so far, including us, have it pretty alright.
Saul: If an ideal future is a more egalitarian society, you and I, the people you’re talking to, don’t really have any idea the needs of currently marginalized people. We don’t know what they need, they know what they need. You know, I think part of what Allied Media is trying to do is help them with the tools, give them tools, although they they already have their own tools, to start addressing these questions, and then just get the hell out of the way.
Anderson: And know that they’re having the conversation now, the more of them interconnect the stronger their voices become, and the more they can really join basically the elite conversation that’s happening in most of the large media.
Anderson: And then, then we can actually talk about the future. Of course there’s an interesting egalitarian assumption underneath that. I think most people pay lip service to that, but I don’t know how many people actually are as deeply committed to that or even believe that change can happen from that sort of bottom‐up, self empowered way. I think there are a lot of people who really support that ideal, but feel that change comes from, often, the top down. That seems like it’s an endless sort of conversation that happens in groups that are trying to change things. And it’s funny that we actually haven’t gotten too much into a discussion of top‐down versus bottom‐up in our project here.
Saul: That is a good point. That’s something that actually you and I haven’t really talked about much.
Anderson: No. Damn, we just ran across something big.
Saul: Yes. Let’s make note of that and actually really get into that at some point. Although, you know in some ways it does relate to the questions we’ve been having about the nature of the Conversation and how these major paradigm shifts occur, right?
Anderson: Yes, and that’s actually a really good tie‐in because Jenny uses an interesting word, “emergence” in here. And I don’t know if we’ve had a lot of people talk about emergence in the project yet. But the idea that for her the Conversation may not actually matter that much. There may be a multitude of small conversations that are happening constantly. And out of all of those emerges this big paradigm shift that maybe you can sense when you’re in, and I mean she thinks that people know that it’s happening now. But we don’t know quite what it’s going to do or what it’s going to be. It’s not something where we can point at a couple of Thomas Jeffersons and say, “This guy’s at the helm.” I mean, that’s sort of a fallacious creation that comes from historians looking at it in retrospect.
Saul: Exactly. There’s something interesting about the idea of these shifts happening with no helmsman, because that sort of is a dismissal of the importance of the individual, in some ways.
Anderson: Maybe not a dismissal of the importance of the individual working on that individual level. Every little bit of conversation you’re having with your neighbor matters, massively, because your neighbor’s mind is changed and it ripples out. But, in terms of the individual as kind of a heroic character? and having a really enormous quantity of agency? maybe we do lose some of that. And that I think is borne out by a lot of her other comments. I mean, the future that she’s interested in is much more communal, you know. What is good media? Well, good media fosters physical community. It fosters a sense of place. In our whole conversation the community/individual tension is really lit up the whole time. I mean, that’s a big theme.
Saul: I think it goes even beyond community. I mean, she started using the same words that we use all the time. She started talking about the larger systems. And that’s not just community that she’s talking about. I mean, I really liked what she was saying about the individual that doesn’t recognize that they are in this larger system or even are this larger system, is missing part of the self. That totally made me think of Carolyn Raffensperger’s quote that she is only herself in community.
Anderson: To Frances Whitehead.
Saul: Yeah. We have another systems thinker, who’s thinking about it on a much more personal level, in some ways.
Anderson: But is definitely still framing our actions and our sort of civic choices in that larger collective consciousness. And she does that in an interesting way, and I’m sort of curious what you thought of this, but at one point she mentions that very individualistic thinkers overlook essentially what we are as a species, right. And isn’t that kind of calling on a biological truth like, we are a social animal, so just…individualism is false. It’s almost like there’s empirical grounds for throwing out our hyperindividualism. Were you persuaded by that?
Saul: Um…do I agree with it? Probably. Was I persuaded by it? Like, do I find it to be a solid argument? Less so. But that’s because it’s based on an assumption that, though I agree with it I don’t know what the proof is. Which is that we are fundamentally communal creatures.
Anderson: I really think we need to actually get someone in this project who can make the case that that kind of individualism leads to a certain type of communal harmony. We’ve seen that…eh, little bits and pieces of that popping up and and David Miller. We’ve seen little bits and pieces of that in Max More or Robert Zubrin. But I think we can do a lot more with that.
Saul: I agree. Let’s put out a call to action here. If any of our listeners can give us a suggestion for somebody who’s able to make that argument in an interesting way, please let us know in the comments or shoot us email.
So let’s see, were there any other any other connections worth bringing up here?
Anderson: I mean, there is sort of an interesting connection and contrast with Gabe Stempinski.
Saul: Ah, yes. Absolutely
Anderson: Both Jenny and Gabe are interested in using the global system of the Internet to foster local senses of place and interpersonal community.
Saul: Right. But they’re going at it in very different ways. So with Gabe, it’s providing the tools to directly introduce people to each other so that the community‐building can happen in the real world.
Anderson: So, the Internet’s the medium for that.
Saul: Right. With Jenny, there is more of an idea that the community on the Internet is sort of a mirror of the community in real life, and vice versa.
Anderson: Maybe there isn’t exactly parity. It seems with Jenny that the Internet community something that will come after we focus more on our real interpersonal communities. It seems more like Gabe is interested in the Internet leading to the real community, whereas Jenny’s interested in the real community leading to a different type of Internet.
Saul: Yeah. And by extension, a different type of media.
Anderson: So there’s some interesting sort of causal arrows there, and we’ve probably oversimplified both of them. But that’s certainly something that I want to keep in mind more as we go further. And it actually links us right back to the beginning of our conversation here where we were talking about top‐down versus bottom‐up change.
Anderson: In Gabe’s model you can have a couple centralized developers create tools. I mean, that seems like sort of an analog to top‐down.
Saul: Speaking of top‐down, I’m going to make an executive decision here and say we should wrap this one up.
Anderson: Sounds good to me. My next conversation is with Patrick Crouch. It’s another Detroit conversation. He’s with Earthworks, which is a farm there. As you would expect, we talk a lot about agriculture, but we also again bring up the tension that came up in the conversation with Jenny between the individual and the collective. We also talk a lot about our old friend technology, and Patrick gives us a really interesting trajectory, down the middle between our people who seem more technophile and technophobe. With that little bit of foreshadowing, thanks for listening, and we will catch you next time.
That was Jenny Lee, recorded August 13, 2012 at the headquarters of Allied Media Projects in Detroit, Michigan.
Anderson: So thanks for listening. I’m Aengus Anderson.
Saul: And I’m Micah Saul.
This interview at the Conversation web site, with project notes, comments, and taxonomic organization specific to The Conversation.