Made my way up to Stockholm to spend quality time with my pal Martin of the Stocktown Chronicles Podcast. Together we sat back, drank tea, and discussed what we’ve seen emerge and change in podcasting since the very first days. Sit back, turn up the volume, and emerse yourself in this conversation.
If you’ve been alive for a few decades you’ve surely noticed how fast time passes and how things seem to change, sometimes even without us fully comprehending what has happened. Once a year, somewhere in Germany, several thousand enthusiastic individuals get together to consider those changes and look into what else is possible in the future. Beyond that, old and new friends get a chance to catch up, share knowledge, and maybe even get inspired.
This event, known as the Chaos Communication Congress, has brought me friends and acquaintences that I feel very fortunate to have and look forward to seeing year after year. Two such friends and fellow audiofiles, join me on today’s program to kickoff CTRP 2015 properly; by reporting from the congress and evaluating what this meeting is all about and how this thing connects to the big thing out there. Today on the program: Emmanuel and Kyle of 2600 Magazine, Off the Hook and Off the Wall.
Last week I rambled into Boston and as soon as I set my bag down Chris Lydon said, “Let’s go interview Jaron Lanier.” And as always, I was pleased and excited to not only get to record another interview with Chris, but very glad that I would finally get to speak with Jaron, who’s previous book “You Are Not A Gadget” had a profound effect on my thinking.
What had most stayed with me from the book was the discussion of the danger posed by group think and the “crowd” mentality that seems to dominate large parts of the internet. Despite the endless possibilities, Lanier pointed out that there is and has been a lot of cases of people all doing the same thing; talking about the same topics, designing websites the same way, etc. A trend that I too have observed and wondered about for some time now. But at the same time, like Jaron points out, there is still plenty to be excited about and the opportunity is still here- for people to challenge these conventions and steer the internet using a more critical-free thinking approach. – At least, this is what I understood from the book.
Meeting Jaron in a very impressive Boston Hotel was admittedly very exciting but also rather intimidating. As a man who writes and speaks often, interviews seemed to be routine and easily irritating for him. I think both Chris and myself wanted to do our best to keep him interested in the interview while not letting the answers sound too routine. Thankfully I think we found a balance.
Perhaps the highlight of the interview for me were his theories on the value of information. Like many people out there who used to believe 100% in the idea that information should be free and this will all work out somehow, Lanier has changed his stance on this issue. He believes it was a mistake and that there needs to be a return to recognizing and giving value where information is created or exchanged. A familiar idea, especially to fans and users of micropayment systems (like flattr here on my site) who have long been making use of a system where work you enjoy and want to help continue receives a piece of your monthly media budget. Jaron talked about how this trend of giving our information for free and the devaluing of so many jobs within a growing list of sectors, is dangerous and spreading fast. It used to be something we bloggers and podcasters thought was only our issue, but now it could be architects, manufacturers of all types, translators, etc, who may increasingly find their work isn’t worth much of anything thanks other sources of “free” information that have emerged.
When it is published I will no doubt listen to the interview a few times in order to properly understand both what Jaron is worried about, what he foresees for the future. But what I did understand is that all his experience and research points to one solution to get us out of this pyramid scheme style internet where we put in work and information for free and then someone else profits from our contribution- returning the practice of giving value to information. You provide me with X, I give you Y in exchange. Instead of an unsustainable economy where, as he describes it, “they that have the biggest computers always win,” we could still move towards an internet economy where we the individuals adopt the tradition of recognizing and giving value to one another’s contributions, even on the smallest of scales.
Hacker Camp, which takes place every two years in Europe, is an event where creative, quirky, and passionate minds from around the world gather to form a temporary physical community where ideas are exchanged. The areas of interest vary greatly, as do the personal stories of those who participate. One area of interest that has long been present at camp is that of conflict resolution, quality of life, and development projects. Making use of tools or knowledge in and from different parts of the world in a effort to improve quality of life for those who desire change and access to technological solutions.
This podcast began as a small conversation on the last day of OHM 2013 among individuals doing projects in South America, the Middle East, Asia and West Africa. As we recorded, the number of participants increased as friends, acquaintances, and curious strangers joined our circle to listen or speak about their project and their impressions of this camp in relation to what is happening in the rest of the world.
My goal with this recording, to make the connections from this temporary microworld that we built, to the rest of the world and the challenges people face everyday. If you enjoy hearing from dedicated, kind hearted, and fum people, listen to this podcast.
Projects and People Included in this recording:
- Everyone talks about OHM 2013
- Anna Waldman-Brown on Ghana
- Vinay Gupta and Hexayurt
- Grace works at Saathipads
- Smári McCarthy wears hats
- MailPile Launched
- Bilal is working on Gemsi, Middle East and Beyond
- Xavi is busy with RhizoMatica Oaxaca
- Raja and Sara are proud of Lamba Labs Beirut
- Everyone else who was there, feel free to comment!