Cheers! to the Internet!
What happens when The Queen of Podcasts in New Orleans (not exactly) meets The Guy Running for President of the Internet (kinda) ?
I was invited sort of last-minute by a friend to jump on the road and meet up with Reddit Co-founder and net-neutrality advocate Alexis Ohanian, as well as Lexington’s own Drew Curtis (founder of Fark), along with a host of tech and digital media reporters, start-ups, and all-around geek enthusiasts and Internet groupies. We were there to catch a stop of the Internet 2012 bus tour, timed to coincide with the VP debates in Kentucky.
Fark and Reddit were hosting a joint panel on The Future of Local Communities (and the role of the Internet, naturally.) While there, I was honored to be invited to join the discussion and offer some thoughts on my experience in New Orleans.
While recounting what exactly I did on this trip to Lexington, my writer friend Bradley commented that it sounded like an adaptation of the movie Almost Famous, but with tech and media geeks instead of rock stars. “You would almost expect a young Cameron Crowe to be on the bus somewhere writing an article for Rolling Stone, ” he suggested.
With so much young, bright (and let’s be honest, hip) talent involved in or tagging along with the group, the Internet 2012 Bus did have something of a rock and roll vibe. I was reminded of my time covering music festivals, in a way. The reporters, however, were from outlets like AdWeek and The Verge. The shenanigans were silly, not risky. The conversations taking place, even well into the night and long after the press conferences and panels were over, revolved around how digital media shaped our own careers, our communities, and what it meant to keep Democracy on the Internet alive.
Early in the evening at West 6th Brewing, as we prepared for the panel, I stopped Alexis and asked if I could interview him at some point that night.
"Is it for the Internet?" he asked.
"When I do an interview, it’s always for the Internet, " I answered with a grin.
Ohanian warned me that if I waited until too late in the evening, his answers might not be as coherent after a few drinks.
"I’m used to interviewing rock musicians. I think if I can get good conversations out of them, we can get a good interview in tonight, " I reassured him.
"I have something to aspire to!" he joked as he gave me a high five.
So did I manage to have a good chat with Ohanian before the night was over? You’ll just have to wait for the podcast to find out.
As for my friend’s Almost Famous comparison, I regret not being clever enough to have thought of that while I was there. I would love to have tried to get everyone on the bus to sing “Tiny Dancer.” Then again, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t. All jokes aside, there were politics, news, and culture to discuss as well as important stories to share.
After all, we’re here because of the Internet.