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

Episodes

  • 23: More of a Reason

    February 20th, 2019  |  51 mins 11 secs

    Jon and Drew discuss the way they spend their time, as far as being online is concerned. The way things work now, going on and offline happens chaotically, in bursts, in reaction to whatever’s happening. Could it be more deliberate than that, and would that help us use our online and offline time better? They discuss ways the hardware and software tools they use could be redesigned to help with this, as well as ways we users could deliberately work towards it.

  • 22: Everyone’s at the Table

    February 6th, 2019  |  52 mins 27 secs

    Drew and Jon are joined by Manton Reece, creator of Micro.blog. Manton’s current mission to build better community software started at about the same time as Jon and Drew’s internet friendship, around 2012, when Twitter took its turn from a flourishing ecosystem driven by users and developers to the siloed media company we now know and no longer love. To Manton, the solution to that has been staring us in the face since before Twitter even existed: bring back blogging. Micro.blog is not only a simple blogging service, it creates a place for bloggers — no matter where their blog is hosted — to meet, read, and respond to one another, bringing only the best parts of social media back to the open web. Jon and Drew are on board, and it’s a lovely community that’s growing noticeably all the time. The question is, how will we get it to the tipping point?

  • 21: Feels Like the Old Internet

    January 23rd, 2019  |  44 mins 13 secs

    Jon and Drew are joined by Matthew Cassinelli of Workflow/Shortcuts, YouTube and Supercomputer fame. Drew and Matthew started off as internet friends, and before long, they were getting (almost) busted taking illegal drone photos. Meanwhile, Matthew worked on the great app Workflow, which was acquired by Apple and became Shortcuts. Matthew has tons of internet friends now, especially in the so-called “Apple community.” What’s that like? It’s a mix. Some of it is everything he loves about technology and community. Other parts are harder, especially since his level of social media attention changed suddenly. But Matthew is real and upfront about stuff like that. He makes a great case that being your real self online is the way to be.

  • 20: One Fewer God

    January 9th, 2019  |  50 mins 25 secs

    Jon has completed his second-annual New Year shutdown of an account with a massive tech company. Last year, he deactivated Facebook. This year, he has deleted all his Google accounts. Why? Why not? Behemoth tech companies are like jealous, demanding Gods in our lives. When it’s possible to stop using one, isn’t there some freedom in that? And that’s leaving aside the political aspect of rejecting companies that track us and invade our privacy. Drew hadn’t considered dropping Google before, but Jon’s alternatives sound interesting enough that Drew is intrigued.

  • 19: A Tablet in Every Pew

    December 19th, 2018  |  48 mins 46 secs

    No more talking around it; Drew and Jon finally talk about religion. They discuss filter bubbles of beliefs online and whether it’s fun to follow people because of their spirituality. The internet gets wonderful when it brings contact with people with analogous beliefs, who teach you new languages in which to express your ideas and feelings. Then they turn to offline religious communities and wonder why they don’t quite feel like they’re working in this day and age. Can technology help? Is there a role for high technology in religious life? Is there a role for religion in high technology life?

  • 18: For the Olds

    December 5th, 2018  |  1 hr 9 mins

    For a lot of folks of Jon and Drew’s generation, the origin story of getting into computers and the internet started with music. In the iPod era, people started building music libraries on their computers that grew to thousands of songs, and the internet was essential for discovering, sharing, and acquiring music. Some people — okay, maybe just Jon — still listen to music this way. Most people are just paying for streaming services now. Is there a right or wrong way to listen to music? Why does music matter so much? Is it different from other media that way? Will these ways of listening go on into the future, and if not, what will change? What will that mean for artists, and therefore for the music?

  • 17: Food Pill Future

    November 21st, 2018  |  49 mins 5 secs

    For their first Thanksgiving special, Drew and Jon talk about food! At this point in history, food is totally a tech topic. Drew is into Soylent, because it doesn’t require him to interrupt his workflow. Jon is more into cooking lunch every day, precisely because it does. Food is a factor in work, community, health, and… well, life. Just in time for their native land’s most lavish food-centric holiday, this conversation considers how the way we eat reflects — or transforms — the way we work and live.

  • 16: Turn the Living Room Purple

    November 7th, 2018  |  57 mins 32 secs

    Smart homes. Jon is a latecomer, and Drew assures him that’s a good thing. All Jon has so far is Hue lights and speakers, but he’s getting pretty into it pretty quickly. Lightbulbs are easy, though? What about door locks? Cameras? Um, microwaves? Is it worth getting into all that stuff? Is it even easier or more convenient than the way things worked before? It’s an interesting category; unlike phones and tablets, adding smart home technology to your life isn’t just about you. Everybody in your house has to be into it. This doesn’t just apply to automation gizmos, it’s also about personalization for music and video services. How does a household navigate that?

  • SPECIAL: Apple October 2018 Event

    October 30th, 2018  |  1 hr 2 mins

    The day has arrived! The new iPad Pro day, that is. Drew and Jon talk about the iPad as their new main computers — the most popular computer in the world — as well as the new MacBook Air and Mac mini updates and what this whole product line means for Apple. There were also interesting announcements about the Today at Apple program at Apple Stores. Apple is doing real-world social gatherings now, and they double as free educational add-ons to Apple products. It’s all very… human.

  • 15: People Don’t Read

    October 17th, 2018  |  54 mins 9 secs

    Jon and Drew discuss the role of writing in online media and community, and they try their best not to sound like old men (Jon has to try harder). There’s a rising tide of conventional wisdom out there that reading and writing are from a bygone era. Jon wonders what he’s supposed to do with his life if that’s the case — which, of course, it isn’t. The problem is really the usual underlying problem of limited and fragmented attentional bandwidth. They discuss the problems with video and why people tolerate them (answer: because the other solutions are too nerdy). They consider the pros and cons of tweetstorms, of which Drew provides a surprising number of pros. And, as all media pundits are wont to do lately, they wonder whether subscriptions inside preinstalled news apps can save the day.

  • 14: Where the People Are

    October 3rd, 2018  |  55 mins 50 secs

    Jon reports that Burning Man 2018 was exactly what 2018 needed, and it got him hyped up on community enough to try going back on Facebook. He lasted three weeks. There’s still something missing that it seems like social media should provide. The correspondence isn’t really the core feature; what online community should provide is a sense of presence. Drew and Jon reminisce about AIM statuses and consider how that indicator of presence could be updated for the technology of today and tomorrow. Social technology is still in its awkward teenage years, just like we were on AIM, but maybe it’s starting to grow up.

  • SPECIAL: Apple September 2018 Event

    September 13th, 2018  |  1 hr 22 mins

    Drew and Jon emerge from their late-summer madness to discuss Apple’s September event, which announced the Apple Watch Series 4 and the iPhones XS, XS Max, and XR.

  • 13: As Resilient As We Can Be

    August 15th, 2018  |  41 mins 37 secs

    This is a tough one, but it has a happy ending. Drew’s home was destroyed by wildfire. He and Kristine evacuated safely, and they’ve returned to Redding to begin rebuilding. Read Kristine’s story about what happened; it’s powerful. Drew explains how social media, phones, and the ability to post this story online played a fascinating — sometimes terrible, sometimes beautiful, sometimes perfectly boring — role in dealing with all this, from tracking the fire, to getting away from it, waiting to go home, and moving on toward what comes next.

  • 12: Happy Medium

    July 25th, 2018  |  50 mins 4 secs

    Drew’s Twitter life has begun to feel like an addiction, which was why Jon deleted his account, and Drew’s considering that, too. They can’t discuss the addiction for too long without switching to the subject of recovery. Jon has been finding places where the healthy metabolism of online community is still happening, thanks in large part to Manton Reece’s Micro.blog. Jon and Drew examine their current online projects and how they differ from their output in Twitter’s heyday: Drew’s blog about the art he’s digging lately, Collected Goodness, and Jon’s @ablaze reading feed and new microblog/podcast about meditation, Grind Well. They get into a little bit of how-to about microblogging and microcasting, including how Jon does it using only his phone. Life isn’t flourishing in the walled gardens — it’s out here on the open web, where good tools enable good work that supports good community.

  • 11: A Slice of Being Alive

    July 11th, 2018  |  47 mins 27 secs

    Drew bought a coffee shop! Jon went on a seven-day silent meditation retreat. These are seemingly pretty different responses to the present moment, but what they had in common was a drive to do something significant in the physical world rather than the digital one. Drew and Jon discuss intentionally taking time offline and how much they even want to be on their devices day to day. Sometimes the limitations of technologies are their benefits, because they force us to think about how to use the tools instead of letting the tools use us. Jon considers how mindfulness can bring spaciousness and stability to the stressful stuff that happens online, which is just how it’s gonna be sometimes. But whenever we can, we have to discern and choose the healthy things — the things that support real community, rather than extract and commoditize our relationships.

  • 10: Full-Body Squint

    June 27th, 2018  |  47 mins 48 secs

    Working entirely online is liberating, but it’s also frustrating, and Jon and Drew are both wrestling with it lately. Drew is compensating for the isolation by renting an office space with friends who aren’t coworkers, but they are co-workers… if that makes sense. Jon works from a home office and wishes he had a third place. They discuss why the technologies for virtual co-working like Slack and video chat don’t work very well. Can VR or other near-future technologies fix it? Hopefully. The promise of virtual work is not only that it lets us do the work we want to do, but that it lets us do our work exactly the way we want to do it.