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

  • 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.

  • 9: Tribal Gathering

    June 13th, 2018  |  41 mins 41 secs

    Jon asks Drew about his visit to Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the primary gathering of the Apple Tribe. Let’s face it: it’s a tribe, and it bears many of the hallmarks of tribalism. How much of the intense energy in the Apple Tribe is even rational? To outsiders, they’re “fanboys” — never mind their genders — but to themselves, they’re faithful underdogs. For Drew and Jon, it’s all about the community — and the livelihoods of the app developers who help the community run — not just the company.

  • SPECIAL: Apple WWDC 2018 Keynote

    June 5th, 2018  |  1 hr 11 mins

    Apple premiered iOS 12, watchOS 5, macOS 10.14 Mojave, and, uh, tvOS something-something today in San Jose, kicking off WWDC 2018. Drew and Jon weren’t in the room, as per usual, but that didn’t make them any less excited about the new features. They cover it all, but they were particularly excited by Apple’s new Screen Time and notification management features, Siri Shortcuts for building Siri-powered automation in one’s own language, new features in Messages, FaceTime and Photos that start to push social media companies out of the picture, Podcasts on Apple Watch (!!!), and other items Apple just checked off their wishlists.

  • 8.5: Elite Squad

    June 1st, 2018  |  26 mins 14 secs

    Jon’s brother, Sam “DingoBongo” Mitchell, joins Jon and Drew for a continuation of the PUBG Mobile discussion in Episode 8. They discuss the difference — if any — between playing this game online as adults and playing Halo in the basement as kids. They wonder why PUBG is the game to finally inspire this kind of devoted team play in the members of their squad, since it’s hardly the first of its kind. Plus: Drew, Jon and Sam play a round… and win!

  • 8: War Stories

    May 30th, 2018  |  44 mins 32 secs

    It takes more than simply hanging out to build community. It takes shared goals, and these days, it could be argued, violent video games are providing that better than so-called “social” apps are. Neither Drew nor Jon would have thought they’d turn to a battle royale shooter game for hanging out with people online, but then PUBG Mobile entered their lives (no Fortnite, thank you very much). It’s the true successor to the chat rooms of yore, before “social media.” Jon rustled up a squad of his finest warriors from the high school video game days; they’re internet friends to Drew, but to Jon this game is becoming his main way of keeping up with these old, now-distant friends. They discuss the aesthetics and social dynamics of PUBG’s antecedents: SOCOM, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Second Life, and Pokémon Go. We’re back to a style of hanging out and playing that prevailed before smartphones, and the company making the software isn’t even doing it on purpose.

  • 7: Black Rectangle

    May 16th, 2018  |  50 mins 11 secs

    Apple’s big annual WWDC keynote is a few weeks away, so it’s a good time for some new Hot Takes™. Inspired by Horace Dediu’s remarkable analysis on the iMac’s 20th anniversary, Jon and Drew take the unconventional approach of looking at what Apple does in the middle of an era, rather than what they do to spark off a new one.

  • 6: Knocking Down the Walls

    May 2nd, 2018  |  46 mins 41 secs

    Follow-up on Garden (spoiler alert: nope) leads to a discussion of the evolution of keeping in touch, from actual pen pals through the IM years to the social media era, and the shifts in the nature of relationships that went along with it. Close relationships seem to make technological transitions more easily, but when one gets a little closer to hitting Dunbar’s number, it can get a little weird. Drew had an urgent topic come up before recording, though, so it was urgent that they discuss how awesome AirPods are. The main topic this episode is audio as an interface, which means talking about headphones, but that’s just the hardware. The interesting part is how technology is transforming the audible dimension of human life.

  • 5: A Facebook Birthday

    April 18th, 2018  |  40 mins 18 secs

    One of the downsides of being off social media is losing the automatic reminders to stay in touch with people. Since deactivating Facebook four months ago, Jon is trying to build a system to replace that. Drew found an app called Garden that seems to fit the bill. They discuss whether it’s okay or healthy to rely on apps for maintaining relationships. Think about it: How do you remember when someone’s birthday is these days? Exactly.

  • 4: Whatever Works

    April 4th, 2018  |  52 mins 8 secs

    Jon has decided to retool everything on his phone, which means that something has gone wrong along the way. His ripping up of the digital floorboards turns into a conversation about our current ecosystems and the trickiness of answering questions that used to be simple like “What kind of phone should I get?” Recommendations aren’t as simple as they used to be, but perhaps they’re more important than ever. Also: Jon’s one-sentence review of the Apple HomePod.

  • SPECIAL: Apple March 2018 Education Event

    March 27th, 2018  |  41 mins 24 secs

    Not-live from not-Chicago, Drew and Jon recap Apple’s March 2018 event focused on education. They discuss the new iPad and updated iWork apps with Pencil support, the new Everyone Can Create courses teaching students how to make music, make movies, draw and take photos, and a whole range of new software capabilities supporting students and teachers.

  • 3: Shared Reality

    March 21st, 2018  |  43 mins 13 secs

    It’s not just us: the story of social media has turned dark, and the leaders of the big platform companies are scrambling to fix it. Drew and Jon consider the prurient origins of social media and wonder whether it’s possible for these companies to turn around. Zuckerberg and Dorsey are touting lofty new values and shiny new metrics, but when you really look at the recent controversies, it kinda seems ridiculous to think new, hand-wavey stats will save them. Jon and Drew’s solution: Just let the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary curate News Feed worldwide and be done with it.

  • 2: We’ve Always Been Cyborgs

    March 7th, 2018  |  1 hr 23 secs

    Drew and Jon share their excitement and frustration about this transition period between the desktop and touchscreen worlds. They realize they’re talking about having fun with their Apple stuff, which the Apple commentariat seems to have forbidden recently. Inevitably, this leads them to how people talk about technology these days. Jon does a brief soliloquy on the evolution of tech news coverage and somehow ends up using a sports metaphor somehow. Tech is not sacred, so why is it so religious? They examine tech companies as almost mythic characters in a narrative — and how far this has gotten us from actually talking about what technology actually does for us. From there, optimism drives them to leave the media behind and talk about how their technology helps them live better lives.

  • 1: How We Met on the Internet

    February 28th, 2018  |  47 mins 54 secs

    Drew and Jon’s internet friendship began with this no-longer-extant live video chat… show… thing on April 19, 2012. Internet friendship has changed dramatically since then. In this episode, they trace the histories of their internet selves from the pseudonymity of forums and AIM through their first forays onto social media, the dramatic transformation caused by discovering Twitter, and… sigh… what’s happened to the internet since then. They consider the link between creativity and conversation, the place-ness of online places, what happens to society when the town square gets trashed, and the loss of online intimacy everywhere except for podcasts — hence, this podcast.