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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Feb 19, 2018

The Internet has morphed from a tool providing efficiencies for consumers and businesses to an elemental force that is profoundly reshaping our societies and our world. Former Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen was among the earliest to write about the potential dangers that the Internet poses to our culture and society. Now he took our stage with his new book How to Fix the Future, looking to the past to learn how we might change our future. Keen discussed how societies tamed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution, which—like its digital counterpart—demolished long-standing models of living, ruined harmonious environments, and altered the business world beyond recognition. Keen was joined onstage by Alex Stonehill, Head of Creative Strategy at University of Washington’s Communication and Leadership Program.

Together Keen and Stonehill identify five key tools: regulation, competitive innovation, social responsibility, worker and consumer choice, and education. They share how these tools have become global solutions for responsible digital practice: from digital-oriented Estonia, where every citizen can freely access any data the government possesses about them in an online database; to Singapore, where a large portion of the higher education sector consists in professional courses on coding and website design. Keen and Stonehill bring us together for an urgent conversation about individual and societal steps for preserving human values in an increasingly digital world.

Andrew Keen is an Internet entrepreneur who founded Audiocafe.com in 1995 and built it into a popular first generation Internet company. He is currently the executive director of the Silicon Valley salon FutureCast, a Senior Fellow at CALinnovates, the host of the Keen On Techonomy chat show, and a columnist for CNN. He is the author of Cult of the Amateur: How The Internet Is Killing Our Culture (2007), Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorienting Us (2012) and Internet Is Not the Answer (2015).

Alex Stonehill is the co-founder of The Seattle Globalist, a hybrid media/education organization that trains and provides a platform for populations underrepresented in journalism and media production. He also co-founded The Common Language Project, an international journalism nonprofit that has taken Stonehill to Ethiopia cover communities impacted by climate change, Russia to report on consolidation of Putin’s power, and Syria and Iraq to interview conflict refugees. He recently joined the University of Washington Communication Leadership graduate program as Head of Creative Strategy, with an eye toward building community connections and elevating student opportunities beyond the classroom.

Recorded live at University Lutheran Church by Town Hall Seattle on Thursday, February 8, 2018.