Internet Friends

Online life is real life.

About the show

Drew Coffman and Jon Mitchell met on the internet in 2012. It was a whole different internet back then. This is a podcast about what’s changed, where it’s going, and what it’s doing to our always-online society.

Internet Friends on social media


  • 38: Whac-A-Mole

    March 4th, 2020  |  54 mins 41 secs

    Seems like as good a time as any — okay, maybe good is a strong word — to revisit the topic of Twitter. Between the worldwide plague of grotesque elections and the worldwide plague of COVID-19, the Twitter vibes right now are the worst since at least the 2016 U.S. election, if not ever. Jon and Drew discuss why Twitter offers such a harmful attraction in times like this. Jon figures it’s time for his first big following purge in a long time, and he and Drew consider what it takes to shape your social media experience to be as close to what you want, given the way the platforms militate against it. What perplexes us is, it should be in social media companies’ interests to make their algorithms compassionate to their users, not merely stimulating. This status quo is so shortsighted. What precious few of the entities supporting the internet we live on seem to wonder is, what are people going to remember about them in 10 years? Will they remember their results from the March quarter 2020? Or will they remember whether they succeeded or failed to help people weather crises we lived out on their platforms? Bonus: A preview of Drew’s exciting experiments with ephemeral posts!

  • 37: Dracula Keyboard

    January 29th, 2020  |  1 hr 45 secs

    Drew has a surprise for Jon! It’s an AlphaSmart Neo 2, a dedicated word processor. Jon, for his part, is thinking about buying a bass. They’re both seeking a lost feeling of having dedicated tools for the job they want to do. Increasingly, iPads and iPhones feel like general-purpose devices that can do lots of things, but they aren’t made for any particular thing, and in a lot of ways, they’re getting worse at each thing they can do as their capabilities get broader and more spread thin. Maybe creative work is better handled by specialized tools, and the digital part is better handled by… a desktop computer on an actual desk! What a concept!

  • 36: Push and Pull

    December 11th, 2019  |  57 mins 10 secs

    For a while, our tools were no better at handling information overload than our brains were, but that’s starting to change. Jon and Drew discuss the never-ending practice of checking things — apps, inboxes, notifications — for new information. Everybody knows that feeling of going around and around checking the same few places to see if there’s anything new. For years, the only alternative was to have notifications blowing up your phone at all times, which was obviously worse. Now, though, operating systems are starting to add new layers of notifications and widgets to make checking quicker, easier to handle, and less urgent.

  • 35: Protective Amulets

    November 13th, 2019  |  54 mins 58 secs

    Jon and Drew discuss the next-generation augmented reality interface that Apple has already released into the world: AirPods. Jon got the new AirPods Pro, and he’s experiencing them not so much as headphones but as cybernetic enhancements for his ears and voice. Sound is such a neglected part of our environment, and we’re often surrounded by loud and annoying noise, a day-to-day problem Apple’s audio products can address. With AirPods Pro, the right software, and an Apple Watch, it’s already possible to have a complete post-smartphone AR experience — it just doesn’t have a visual component… yet.

  • 34: Demoted From Power User

    October 9th, 2019  |  1 hr 4 mins

    Both Jon and Drew are slowly wearing out from the constant grind of new third-party apps and — even more so — from the pursuit of ever more automation using tools like Shortcuts. At best, it feels like a Band-Aid patching up missing features that should be built in. At worst, it’s nerdy customization just for the sake of it, even at the expense of simplicity and usability. The Apple fan community is embracing it hard now that Shortcuts is built in on every iOS device, but Drew and Jon question whether this is what people really want. Jon also gives his impressions of migrating from OmniFocus to Apple’s new Reminders, about which he has also written an extensive review.

  • 33: You Captured the Bear

    September 25th, 2019  |  1 hr 23 secs

    Drew’s new phone has him wanting to talk about cameras. Photography is moving away from being a technical practice requiring lots of tool-specific knowledge that has little or nothing to do with composing an image. It’s becoming a prosthetic extension of our eyes and minds that just captures what we see and resurfaces it for us later, thanks to the software running on the portable supercomputers that are our cameras these days.

  • SPECIAL: Apple September 2019 “By Innovation Only” Event

    September 10th, 2019  |  1 hr 28 secs

    Apple announced pricing and timing for Arcade and TV+, a new iPad, Apple Watch Series 5, and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. They were pretty strong updates — Jon orders the watch live on the show, Drew will get the iPhone 11 Pro as soon as possible — but the most exciting news was probably the pricing, which is definitely friendlier than things have been for a while.

  • 32: Tyranny of the Urgent

    September 4th, 2019  |  1 hr 5 mins

    Drew needs an intervention. He’s reached that all-too-familiar point at which all the tools and processes and ways of doing stuff with computers stop working for him. Drew turns to Jon, whose digital system might be the best functioning thing in his life, to straighten him out.

  • 31: Spies, Thieves, and Ads

    August 28th, 2019  |  1 hr 1 min

    Jon hates the web. It’s full of spies and thieves and ads. Not the technologies that power the web; those are great. The system of destination websites with their own economics is a lost cause, Jon says. Drew challenges him to think through what would happen if he deleted Safari from his devices. It’s more complicated than that, obviously, but it’s worth thinking through. Do we even need it? Well, yes. But the web needs a complete do-over back to the Wild West ’90s if it’s ever going to deliver on its promise.

  • 30: I-Thou Relationship

    August 7th, 2019  |  1 hr 1 min

    Drew has been working on a theory of a patronage model for online creativity and shopping it around to anyone who will listen. Jon is a big subscriber to things and believer in the model, but he wonders why it hasn’t taken off already. The tools seem to exist already. Why isn’t it the cultural norm? Maybe it’s because the current examples, like crowd-funding and Patreon, are too transactional. People are clearly willing to pay for media in bulk now — see Netflix et al. Will those bigtime platforms make it easier for indie creators to get on there and get paid? Will dedicated crowd-funding or patronage platforms finally take off? Or will creators have to press on and find ways to connect directly to their thousand true fans?

  • 29: Cartoon Lion Faces

    July 24th, 2019  |  27 mins 46 secs

    Drew and Jon invent a new type of podcasting because the internet at the camp where Jon was working was too bad for a call. So they recorded while sending audio iMessages back and forth, and it was a perfect opportunity to talk about the state of messaging apps. The fragmentation among so many apps is getting old, but we can’t just all use iMessage, because we don’t all have iPhones. How is all this going to play out? Is Facebook domination inevitable?

  • 28: A Hero and a Villain

    June 19th, 2019  |  57 mins 54 secs

    Drew tweeted a video he found of a camera on a conveyor belt at a sushi restaurant, and it went viral. Like, really viral. Jon and Drew discuss what that was like. It made for a fascinating juxtaposition with a #BadFaithTwitter thread that went viral at the same time about a guy who found a brick of heroin in his van and successfully re-stole it from a gang member, or something… it doesn’t matter, because the dude made it up. As a tweet Drew saw recently said, every day, the internet picks a hero and a villain. You just have to hope that neither one’s you. Having been the hero now, though, Drew thinks it’s worth it for the #GoodFaithTwitter cause.

  • SPECIAL: Apple WWDC 2019 Keynote, Part II

    June 6th, 2019  |  37 mins 38 secs

    Drew and Jon consider the implications of Apple’s new augmented reality initiatives and SwiftUI, both announced at the end of the very long keynote after the stuff discussed in Part I. What do these two things have to do with each other? They’re both telling us all to get ready for the future — especially app developers.

  • SPECIAL: Apple WWDC 2019 Keynote, Part I

    June 4th, 2019  |  1 hr 7 mins

    Apple blew all the minds in its annual Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote in San Jose on June 3. Jon and Drew cover the announcements for tvOS, watchOS, iOS, iPadOS (which is a separate thing now!), and macOS, and they save all the heady future-y AR stuff for a second WWDC special. Maybe Apple should have done that for the keynote, too — two and a half hours was a lot!

  • 27: #GoodFaithTwitter

    May 15th, 2019  |  53 mins 7 secs

    Drew’s longest Twitter break ever has ended, so both he and Jon are back! (That’s @DrewCoffman and @ablaze, by the way.) They both thought they were permanently over it… and they were wrong. It’s going to be different this time, though. Drew and Jon are only here for the use of Twitter in good faith. In this episode, they recap their ongoing discussion of what went wrong on Twitter, but now they’ve got a plan to fix it.

  • 26: Reply “STOP”

    May 1st, 2019  |  49 mins 9 secs

    Drew is intrigued by Craig Mod’s SMS-powered publishing. It’s both old-school and utterly new and strange. Likewise, the ascendancy of email newsletters is baffling, given how we’ve all come to feel about our email inboxes, but it also makes total sense. What technologies should one use to publish things anymore? Where is the line between communication and publishing?