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Good evening I am Doug Sovern, news reporter at KCBS radio All News 740, in San Francisco. I also host a website and blog about Politics Called Sovereign Nation which is at kcbs.com. I welcome you to this meeting of in forum the division of the commonwealth club by and four young people who share an interest and passion for civic issues. Tonight I am joined by Josh Wolf, 25 year old video blogger and journalist, who have served 226 days in prison after refusing to testify before a federal grand jury and turnover his video outtakes of an Anti-G8 anarchists protest to a federal district court. Then last year, Josh was awarded the journalist of the year award by The Society of Professional Journalist. Tonight we are going to tackle the controversies in journalism between new media and old. And how his experience experiences have influenced his political perspectives. Please welcome Josh Wolf. So Josh, let's begin with with the big question that that people ask me about you, do you consider yourself a journalist? Absolutely, I think a journalist is anyone who goes out to document and discover the world around them and bring into an audience and that's exactly what I have done in the past and I will continue to do. Why do you think it is that some old media traditional journalists I have such a hard time with that and resist to seeing you that way. Because with this expanding world of citizen journalism, many journalist that who are currently working in the industry are watching, their new stations move towards user generated content and that's taking away many career opportunities for them and additionally is I am sure you are aware newspapers of kind of on the decline and so it's sort of survival of the fittest ideology right now and that probably explains why many journalists are hasn't and to consider anyone who doesn't receive the paycheck from a major corporation to you also be a journalist. So it's resent and they may feel threatened? I wouldn't say its resentment, but I definitely would say that they feel threatened. Should they feel threatened? While on change with the times, learn your tricks, evolve ? I mean I think anyone who know career path that's narrowing, and other way it's expanding and other is is going to feel threatened. That's absolutely natural, but to try to build a wall between so called citizen journalist and the professional or establishment media is not the right attitude to take it on because if these larger conglobed companies that are focusing on profits that are really jeopardizing the future professional journalism and if journalist can then begin together from both walks of life, then we can actually create a united front. It's much stronger than these petty squabbles between us. Do you see journalism, is it a career path for you or is it more a passion or calling, something you just have to do? I guess the simple answer would be yes. Though I work for a - you know, as a corporate in the old media corporation as you can get, I work for CBS we have been accused of being everything from the communist broadcasting system to the corporate broadcasting system depending on who is doing the talking. Before that I worked for the New York Times, so I am I am very familiar with the corporate media mentality and things are changing drastically and dramatically and you see newspaper reporters having to blog and and carry equipment they didn't have before and, radio people shooting video, everyone sort of becoming a hybrid, do you think eventually that traditional journalist will morph more into the new journalist that that you represent? I certainly think that if any one is pursuing journalism right now, it doesn't make sense to exclusively focus on writing, especially in the news format. Certainly magazines aren't going anywhere. But it's all about having different skills available to to find a place in the work force and to find a place to express yourself. And the more skills you have, the more marketable you will be and the more the more able - you will be able to actually make contact and make a connection with your audience. Do you think that the role that the new media plays differs a lot from the role of traditional media? Is every one trying to do the same thing? Or is it completely different? I think that there is diversity in both camps. Much of new media, especially on the blogger side is focused critiquing the existing media, the establishment media. They are sort of like the watch dogs or the watch dogs. And when there is a story that is particularly buyers, gets the facts wrong. The bloggers are going to be the first ones to pick it up but there are a lot of blogs doing original reporting, talking points, memo obviously being a good choice to bring up. And so there is plenty of diversity, there is a lot of people that are blogging about their neighbor at this ultra local journalism that traditional media doesn't see much of a market for and yet many of these bloggers are are thriving with 50 to 60 percent of their communities tuning in everyday to find out what's happening in their their block or in the neighborhood. Some people love blogs, I don't know how many you read, other ones, how often do you read them, which ones do you like? More I tune into Romanesco every day to - to get ideas for the blog that I do at CNET called Media Sphere I generally watch the videos at one good move because that's - that's my form of television, I don't actually own a television but if I go to one good move that organ crooks in layers that or I can get the best of stuff that actually worth watching each day and then can I just surf around from there I don't have too many blogs that I read religiously or kind of not filled with lot of time right now. Well that's sort of my attitude towards it. It takes a lot of time and you can sit down for hours at the computer, and I find that in our news room, a lot of the people have their own blogs but they are very personal, lets about here my dog that this today you know, when I went shopping I don't know if I called that journalism, but some they have hundreds of readers, so that sort of thing is popular. Why do you think it is that people is it a voyeuristic thing or need for connection in community, why is at that that people enjoy the reading other people's diaries essentially as so much? The same reason people like reading memos, people want to know what makes people think to get inside someone's head to understand what drives them and these sorts of ultra personal blogs are mean instead a sort of get that perspective, but then again I don't read those so I don't know necessarily what the motivation is for sure. Where do you see this going as far as as the way people get their news and the way people consume media, ten years from now will it be all YouTube and online video and then like in the traditional in the newspaper are not may be not dying but not doing too well in the traditional TV and print media will - will have lost their audience, or how do you see it going? There is a lot, that looks like we are moving towards in interactive approach to journalism in a way having the major news sites and corporate comments, actually reading those comments on the air, discussing the comments live so that there is actually a conversation developing. And all that stuff pretty much did originate there in talk radio were on the on the blogs are get depending on how you look at the perspective. And we shortly going to continue to see more of that in in terms of whether we are going to see this new media scope with multimedia happen. Its its certainly looking that way, but ten years from now is a long time we may hopefully get to the point that we see all journalism is sort of larger field that they were all connective make up giants media sphere as the type of my blog is where each each person serves a particular role and establishing a more informed populous. There has been an evolution as you say top radio - as a starting point suppose, but but as we move forward, do you think that the traditional media they are sort of scramble to respond or we have to have a blog, we have to have as you say email comments, are they too late and trying to catch up and scramble like that is a doom for them to do that or does it work with the moment when CBS has has blogs and video chat and all? I mean I think its make of it's of mixed success. Some blogs are quite successful, they have been launched by the corporate media, other ones are not so much, I know ABC news online how to remain a content to the start of video blog for their their news program online, and it seemed to be quite successful but unfortunate contract wasn't renewed so, apparently then that approach wasn't successful when they did the numbers and decide whether or not it was profitable but certainly they are going to apply catch up because they work in the sort of structured environment where as these internet startups come up with new ideas every other day together that came out while I was in incarcerated I have no idea about it in the next thing I know everyone's talking about, so you want to what are yet or you want to wonder and I don't think we would have seen CBS or somebody come up with an idea like to what ever in and utilize it and they only started to use it we have seen some corporations using it after the fact that it caught on at the grassroots level. Especially since for the corporations that ultimately thus tend to be about the bottom line, and if they not going to make money from something they may abandon it? And its not even simply about being a- the bottom line they want to increase their profits year after year when you increase the percentage of their profits, which is clearly not a sustainable approach because if you have six percent profit margin in this year and that's enough to to feed everyone and have some money left over. I am trying to get seven percent next year may not be successful, but if still have six percent I consider that a success and yet the corporations turn only call about a losing year. Let's talk about the incarceration, you chose to go to prison rather than than surrender your video out takes and to testify. Talk to us a little bit about explain what happened there and what the process was for you then, that let you go in to jail for almost a year. Well shortly after I filmed this protest on July 8th against the G8 summit, the FBI comes knocking on my door and its a strange thing to have the FBI knocking your door, and you just like a I know that my right are with the police, but you don't naturally know what your rights are when doing Federal Law Enforcement. And so I wasn't inclined to talk to them but then I actually accidentally locked myself out of my house with them there, and so you no longer that option of shutting the door on their face and being like have a nice day. So I proceeded to talk about how the police didn't follow their own procedures because that was the one thing that I felt pretty comfortable talking about and is an observer of the police sharing with fellow of police not no one is going to get in trouble their obviously. And then they sorted to asking me like what's on your video it's not published, I am like there is some shorts in my shoes, there is more chanting of the same people but really nothing and they are like who were investing this injured police officer, and we would like to see if there is any evidence on your tape, and my first that was like wow, I don't know how I feel about that but will you give a signed of the David said that they only use it for those purposes. And they said no we don't do that, we are the FBI. But we are not interested in petty Adventism or anything like that. And I might well, if you do not going to to give me it after a David then I have no reason in all to cooperate with you and I immediately called an attorney and had legal counsel from that point forward. And at that point I thought everything was done they left I was like okay that was a scary situation but it seems to to have vented. However six months later they shut up with this opinion for the Federal Grand Jury and they no longer just wanted my tape. Now they wanted my testimony about everything I saw or who knows when giving the grand jury this sort of secret government body, you can't have an attorney there. The press isn't allowed to be a witness and there is no judge, it's just the prosecutor, the jury and yourself. And its a very frightening situation, and you cant demonstrate what you did or didn't say. So that automatically double lot of flag,s and but beyond that they also wanted my camera, my computer, a copy of the software I used to edit, I think may be they also wanted to add a piracy investigation there or something to see if I actually own my editing software. Don't know of sure but it was just this laundry list of things, and so we decided and made the most sensitive resist this opinion, we fell that motion to squash which is saying that this opinion is unlawful, for a number of reasons. And we went through that procedure for a while unsuccessful, until I eventually did have to go before the Federal Grand Jury. And when I appeared in front of the jury I invoked my first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 14th constitutional amendments, as I remember correctly. And they kept asking questions I kept invoking the same environments and eventually they took me down to the judge, and the judge said "now son if you don't do it do with the nice man says you are going to be in a lot of trouble, you could even got to jail" and of course I was already on page two what he was going to say and then - okay I understand they brought me back up, there he asked one more question. I am kind of look at the US attorney for a second, I am like and I invoke my first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 14th constitutional amendments at which point, you see this exasperated look on US attorneys face and he is like - I moved to excuse the witness from from the grand jury in that might - that is that means this is over again and then he stops him so because I moved to excuse the witness for today. I don't know - okay I don't know what that means now. But I immediately go talked to the attorneys and we hurried back to my house because we think that they are coming back with the search warrant now. As it turns out the search warrant never appeared but they did bring charges of contempt against me, so then we had a couple of more hearings about that, and at the end of the second hearing they dragged me out from the from the witness stand and took me up to the and it was the 14th floor of the federal building with handcuffs in and did the whole processing number and eventually took me out to the Federal Detention Centre and that was in California. 14th floor with the president institute you could have visited some reporters all over there and taken up the collection and then at that point you get out, I mean you go to prison and then you get out on bail and then go back, right? Right the Nine Circuit Court appeal actually granted me bail and then pass the case after the next months panel, because each month there is like three judges they decide these things. So they didn't wanted to make a decision, they just wanted to pass it to the next month panel which was a far more conservative group of judges who spend about six days molding the case over before ruling against me, then the Us attorney made a motion to those judges that it just ruled against me to revoke my bail. They having just ruled against me of course they are like yes throw me back in jail. And within three weeks I was back in in custody and stayed there of another I don't know seven months or so. And how did they find you in the first place, was it because you footage appeared on television? It's a good question how they found me but its also not difficult to find me if you in Google my name and type in four and five you can find my phone number if you Google my name and happen to know the zip code I live in you will find my address I was quoted in the chronicle that morning after the protest because I received a call from a reporter that was that wasn't there and wanted to find out what happened. So I I made myself somewhat visible. And I had never done video you know, in a alias or anything like that so it didn't surprise me that they were able to find me. And might have been covering protests for several years, most of the cops know who I am. So I am an easy person to reach and the FBI has a lot of resources to find people. And the fact that you invoked the first amendment, I assume at that point you were identifying yourself as a working journalist at least to them you said, "Hey, I am a journalist". Oh yeah, they actually the FBI from the beginning said, "So you are a journalist". They started the conversation explaining how this agent had studied journalism in high school and you know, try the FBI is a little more adapted in interrogation than than your standard cops. So they were like so I study journalism in high school. What what did you like about journalism what are you trying to make friends with you and kind of ease the situation of you but I saw through that fairly, quickly. So 226 days in federal prison. What was it like? What's it like I am assuming no one here has ever been in federal prison. May be they have but what's it like to be in prison and for that long. Well, first half I was at a federal detention center, which is a unique environment unlike say, solid at present or something like that. There was there was only between 40 and 100 people there at any given time. And most of them were transfers. They were they were for a limited period of time be from moving on to another prison so I was basically living in a bus depot for seven and a half months. So I got to know a lot of people, but it was much more boring than brutal, the bureaucracy was ridiculous, I had a number of problems trying to get - press accessed the the media wanted to interview me face-to-face and were denied that opportunity and they decided that they couldn't guarantee the reporter's safety. And so the idea of me attacking a reporter who is interviewing me about reporters that didn't, didn't really make much sense to me. I asked the the jury administrator about and he is said, well, actually we just don't have the staff. And I am like so why are you not telling them that. He is like because we can't tell them that. This is our clause that we use to deny press access. So there was lots of stuff like that. they took my commissary away one point in time because I review a message that someone felt bad about hanging up on their fiancÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â©e and they retaliated in this way, simultaneously the person, did ask me to review the message, had his phone taken away for six months. so there was all these, - preferential treatment that you know, that I wasn't trying to get the treatment but they didn't want to create an uproar or they cut off a journalist's phone for six months, for reviewing a message because that could be bad press for them. But if it's So how did you spend your time? I mean it sounds like it was pretty boring. I read about 60 books while I was there. I had dozens of conversations, I learned how to play spades, played hearts, tried to learn Pinnacle. Pinnacle is actually a very popular game in the prison system. You think it's just the elderly player it but actually the inmates are all about the pinnacle. But it was too complicated for me to really pick up. I wrote in a journal, kept in a daily daily diary entry for for each day that I was there with my thoughts the experiences that I had and watched a fair amount of television, especially given the fact that I don't watch TV at home so that pretty much made up most of my time. Obviously I slept a little more than than we might normally and ate a lot that there are all three giant meals a day, starts at Was there a point in - during that seven months when you thought you know, may be I should relent, may be I should testify? Lets give them a video, or wasn't that never even into your mind. Well, my original plan going into this and my lawyers only started advising against it once we had gotten to the point that there was no real like after the decision could have been made was I was going to fight the the right to keep this video material because it's a fight that's worth having even though in this case, there was nothing on the on the tape at all. So I was going to keep that through all the appeals that I felt were reasonable. I mean it didn't make sense to appeal all the way to Supreme Court because, politically they just weren't go side with us and then once I had exhausted my appeals without making any deal, or I was planning under publishing it to me website. So suddenly the world saw that it's not about the video, it's all about this testimony. But obviously if you do that the US attorney's is going to get pissed off. And my attorney's advice against making the US attorney angry, making the judge angry and said, at this point, you are pretty much committed. There is no separating the video from the testimony. And we thought about it for a few minutes, the and we actually had one of my attorney's approached the US attorney and asked whether he would accept the tape in law of the testimony. And he said no, we need every thing. Of course that didn't come out at all. And I spent few more months just kind of sitting there, waiting until the resolution they did transpire were on valentines day of this year. The day after my story erred on democracy now, the judge ordered the case into mediation with the magistrate and we were able to work out this settlement where I would publish the entire video. They did obtain a copy once it was made publicly available to the world, so everyone saw that there was nothing on the tape but I didn't have to testify about the identities of the people that were there which is really what they were after and the spokesperson for the US attorney's office, I believe his name was Luke Macaulay, actually stated that they were seeking my testimony to identify potential witnesses. Not potential suspects even but potential witnesses. So I saw McCarthy switch on and hearing that really kind of confirmed it to me. Was it worth, all the time in prison did you feel like like you did the right thing in the end? I absolutely feel like I did the right thing, the question of was it worth it has a sort of bitter taste right now, that's some of you are probably aware that the US house representatives recently improved a Federal Shield Law, but some minute editions the measure changed it from defining a journalist is some one who gathers and disseminates information to the public, but someone who gathers and disseminates information to the public for substantial financial gain or substantial portion of their livelihood. As it turns out, I may have covered under that criteria and given that I was able to earn to about $2000 from the video that night just by chance actually. But in the long run, I wouldn't be covered and I certainly feel that all journalist whether they are students, bloggers or professional journalist that rely on this for their daily income should all be protected under the same law the government establishing two different classes of journalism to me goes against the spirit and the language of the first amendment. I was going to ask you about the Shield law, since let us talk about - the house has passed that version, senate has passed a slightly different version, they have got to reconcile that, from what I understand, but we don't even know the president who will sign it, if and when it passes? I believe the senate passed a version as well but it's much narrower version and they are working between them to to reconcile that conference and we don't know where it goes from there, I could be wrong. But, why do you think it is that the the house did derive the version that they did do you think that's corporate influence or specifically excluding the citizen journalist, the blogger, the amateur person with the camera on the street. Why do you think that happened? I am not entirely sure why that happened, I know that the chamber of commerce was pushing for a number of clauses to be changed, there the reason that we have the trade production clause in it that says the trade secrets are not protected. So I am not sure what the influence was I know it was cornier is that that added those final changes. I think the what was being from the White House coming out was that this would protect anyone and terrorist will just start making blogs. Of course if you are actually involved in a crime, the Shield law doesn't protect you because you still have conspiracy charges you could be they could be brought against you and so this notion is totally spurious, this argument but, they are still putting it forward, they are still saying that you know, we only to only protect those journalist who are the correct journalist, or the formal journalist, what ever you want to call it. And this was the language they used to define that. it doesn't protect students in addition to bloggers, and it the most interesting category of people that I I don't know what they are going to do with, yes, lets say you are unpaid intern at the washing post. And you are working on a story with a - with a professional journalist and you both get the byline. Can you say being the intern you are not a journalist? Okay, it's been interesting, leave that question, of course the party wouldn't give the entering the bylines? Do you feel that I mean California already has the shield law? Now this would be the federal one. Do you feel unappreciated by a traditional journalist who might benefit from a law that that you really may have help to instigate like grew out of your case but as you say, wouldn't even protect you? It certainly feels like a low blow when you are talking to a certain journalist that are like well, this is the exact law that we need right now. I was on a panel with Lance Williams who was also under the threat of being in prison at the same time then I was locked up at the Federal Detention Center. And he was very, very much in favor of this law and he didn't seem to be concerned about the change in the language and and I found that honestly, patently offensive for one thing, I am not sure that he would have been spared from going to that if they hadn't - already had one journalist in jail. And so I think that did help his situation. And the fact the matter is that the the time I spent there certainly kept the situation at the fore front of national politics, I mean it was a year after Judith Miller went to jail that I found myself incarcerated and if we had had less attacks on the press we might not have seen this long past today and to pass a lot that wouldn't protected me is a really better irony that it just kind of difficult to swallow. May be he didn't that the change in - he didn't resonate with him since he knew he will be protected? All right I mean there is there is a natural inclination to think of yourself before you think of you appears I think we should try to move beyond that but its kind to drive human existence for sometime until we get beyond it. I remember seeing an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle that heading something like and unlikely murder or something like do you remember that about your case? Something whether those were murder did you feel like a murder for the fourth of state? To some degree but when and his his name is coming for head right now but the journalist it was killed in Mexico Brad Noel. No - that's not right - Brad Will there we go when Brad Will was killed in Mexico coverings the resistance over in Oaxaca, suddenly there when people would say that I was the murderer for the press it it bothered me because I am not a murderer I am standing here today having this discussion with our view pretty much back to normal and he is past on he is the real murderer or press as I see in terms of that time period. You have talked before about transparency and how important that is in media and politics and everything do you think that the commercial media are not transparent enough in the way they gather news in the way they decimated what you thoughts on that? Well traditional meeting in norms especially in print televisions of another he talked to itself is that you have straight journalism in one portion in the paper and then you have the opinion page where you get to know how those columnist actually feel where how the editorial voice of the paper feels and but in the straight news category there is no ability to disclose how you actually feel instead you pretend the objective if if you are a Jewish person covering the Palestinian-Israel conflict it highly and like the you don't have personal influence about that, but you can disclose them in the article although they probably do subconsciously shape your copy and therefore I think that it makes they will have more sense to move towards transparent journalism, where we disclose the biases whether through the story or in an offside location, so that you understand where the author is coming from, and and separate that from this idea of objectivity, because objectivities of false ideal. No matter how hard you try you never going to be a objective. We like to say that you should get the other sides opinion or to balance the story but in the case of like a covering a protest there is 20-30,000 people protesting against the war and there is a couple of 100 people walking around with American flags or Israeli flags and to give them equal weight doesn't necessarily seem appropriate. It certainly make sense to mention the fact they were there to cover them in some way shape reform but to say that these - these two sides are equal in the story really misses the mark in my opinion. That's something we struggle with everyday I mean I have covered protest like that and when you say relief I have a sound bite of this protest from the sound bite of the counter protest which was one percent in the size and present them as one to one that's not an accurate reporting of the story so you strive to balance at this best you can you know, in portion but in a two minute story that's how to do. How would it work, what we have little side about saying Josh Wolf says this isn't that the other thing, just - just you know, an interest of their disclosure. How would it worked to have that transparency? There is there is a number of ways you could do it, you could do within the bony of the story. We see at in economic interests if a paper has its own some by company their reporting on they say in the interest of full disclosure General Motors owns such and such a percentage of this company. We could do it in the same way in the interest of all disclosure I believe that this is the case. And so you can realize where they are coming from and some track that. It all kind to come downs to media literacy though, people through out this country think that if they heard on TV or they see it on TV or they hear it on the radio that it has to be true, because the media is of voice of authority, when in reality the media makes the same mistakes that every human being is going to make in gathering stories now obviously there is they are going to be better than and certain people you run into but these mistake do happen, and everyone has perspective its driving what they are saying. And so I think that we really need to move towards teaching media literacy in either secondary or even our primary education system so that people will brought up to think about well where is this voice coming from who owns this company that saying these things about these other company because it it really does come down to why are you saying why are you saying why are you saying and usually there is some sort of motivation behind it even if it happens to be just that you disinterested in the subject and that's why you have such a passive tone about it. Exactly a lot of the bias may be not biased, but the lack of objectivity in media can be media can be the subject matter you chose the story you chose to cover, you may reported as objectively as you can, but why did you chose to cover that story, that appear to you there was something about that interest to you in the past to reflect your own biases and opinions, and this really bring to it. But we be better off the way the journalism was 200 years ago in this country where this is a democratic paper, this is a republican paper, may be a read paper, attorney paper or something but where you know about front that this is the opinion of this paper and even its copy you are not just its editorial page its going to reflect that? I would tend to think that we would be better off that way the the part of the reason that we went away from that was media consolidation when it started many man years its got much more accelerated at this point and the origins for this sort of objective reporting really comes from the Spanish American war which we - first kind of made happen if you will, and so he had taken over all these different papers and he became - his papers became the paper for the towns, you longer had the democratic paper and the republican paper, and now you had this bias paper that didn't have a counter balance to it, and so because you destroy that counter balance you had to start moving forward in this school of objectivity, the establishment of they are supposed to teach this objectivity in order to basically eliminate the need for the competition, but no matter how you trying to be objective. There is always multiple sciences to history and I think having competing papers with drastically different ideologies. As long as they disclose those ideology they disclose where they are coming from is a better place to be working from, then this fall centre on objectivity when every single paper has motivation behind it. But then how will the news consumer discern what is what about the truth if we know that this one has the left bias and this one has a right bias and there is nothing - Even reporting but you read them both and decide that the truth is somewhere in the middle? That I think that makes a lot more sense than than reading this story this story you have been told is objective, when anyone with any incline in media literally seen those is going to be missing a massive on the details. I find that lot of times people are whether they reading the paper listen to the radio if they agree with what's said, they think it's the truth, and if they don't they decide its bias, so I will hear form people that you know while I was in the KPFA for the truth, because I know you are biased but then a lot different opposite from other people. Do you think that's true that we tend to agree - I mean those who agree with us we tend to receive as more objective and honest? I certainly agree that we would tend to agree that people like hearing people that they agree with. It's the echo chamber effect and its its being part of our culture, its part of the fact that we hang out with people in our social lives who tend to agree with us. We like to feel that we are all on the same page, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't branch out and see what the other sign as this say in fact the more crucial now than ever to understand both perspectives. That's helping you to agree with me on that sounds good thank you. Now you decided to run from me in the edition - I mean you really got into politics in a in a real way. I am not just talking about it, writing about it but actually participating - as participating you can get. What made you decide to do that? Well, I had actually managed that supervisors candidacy a few years prior, and I was sitting there after I get out of the jail there was this mayors race coming up and I felt that the incoming hand on a particularly stellar job, it took a lot of credit for a work that the board supervisors had done, and I really wanted to get involved in driving that opposition. I really was passion about the area of making some media around it actually. However that candidate that I wanted to work on this campaign never materialized. There weren't any visible candidates come July and then on July 4th this whole levy computing thing happen where the president commuted the decadence and it just drop me up the war, and when I knew I had to do something to get involved and be a part of this in obviously didn't make sense to international office right now especially because I not sure that there is any saving that the State of US politics Okay, right so you were at the time you are really or you yield not enough for congress? Just barely well enough to run for congress, I was at that point but that that wasn't my intention at all and in San Francisco is my home much more than I feel that I am part of America you know, what I mean. And so I did what I could I threw my hand to the ring and said lets lets start to build something again to real democracy, because we have the system of representative government. But when you look around, I know I feel that our representatives are representing the people that are getting them re- elected not representing the people who got them elected in terms of the votes, the people that are their constitutions, the people that they turn their backs on if they don't do the checks coming in. Do you think that people and government loose side of why they are there in the first place or whether they should be there in the first place which is to lead and represent the people are supposed to to get rich and have power and consolidate their own position? Well, the day you get elected is the day you get fund raising for the next one. And so as long as you have that cycle work, private money is driving electoral politics and money really does drive electoral politics. You can't want to campaign with our money and I am learning that first and then, you are going to be trying to have peace the people that are going to line you pockets and ensure that you have success as a great politician. And I think we really need to get away from this whole idea of great politicians. When our country was founded, the idea was that you don't dedicate a few years to public service and then go back to whatever profession it was; be had farmer, merchant, whatever. Now we have people that are in politics from their earlier 20's sit there 80's, and they have never had a career other than being a politician, and I think that's one of the major problems. I think the other problem is that we don't have direct democracy. When our country was founded the only reason that we had, a system of representative government as could you imagine getting on your horse at least once a week driving to the down hall, to vote on all these measures and then you would have to people counting all these ballets everyday. I mean, that's the same reason we have an electoral congress. It wasn't possible to count every single ballet of every person who lived in the country. But now at the internet, it is possible, that direct democracy. We have to get everyone on on the same page in terms of being able to get online, to be may be sure that they they have the support and the access to do so. But once we get there, we can actually move towards real democracy where every piece of legalization you can weight in on. And I think that's a a much much more profound way to to run a government that of the people, by the people and for the people than electing these politicians who may or may not represent the interest of their constitutions. The recent election day is on a Tuesday, its because people needed time to a day to get to the counting seat of vote, they could never on Sunday, because that was a day or religion, they couldn't have it on a market day; the farmers needed the time, they only if they could come up with to give the farmers enough time to get tuned from the voting place was Tuesdays. So we could change at this point presumably since we have point places in every garage and firehouse. The opposite of the great politician you know sometimes is a very inexperienced person who is criticized for not having enough experience. What what are your feelings on that matter; I mean sometimes we get someone I mean, someone who doesn't have a lot of experience will be denigrated when they run for not being experienced enough. Well there shouldn't are going to be denigrated because it's an easy easy boys to attack them. But, if our government can't be run based on commonsense, then we need to figure out how to change our government to get away from these legally these sort of strange laws that look one-way and actually are the opposite. We need to move towards the system that everyone can understand, and if we can actually build that, then there is no reason to worry about experience because just through living our lives, we we gain the critical thinking goes in the experience that we need to solve problems and that's were they would being politics is is finding the solutions from the people and delivering numb in order to ensure that everyone is happy and taken care of. Do you think if we took the money out of it and we had true public financing of elections, is that would be enough to to make the difference and and to get politicians to focus on the needs of the constituency and not on and if they they didn't have to raise the money, what if fundamentally change the way they personal jobs, do you think? It would certainly fundamentally change it, but it wouldn't solve anything. The fact that the matter is that the shire idea of having someone represent all of these people who all have diverging interests who all have diverging opinions, and who all have different solution to these problems that are facing our society each day is is not the the ideal system. It was the only thing possible when our country was founded but it's now possible to move beyond that and then enlarge what we have been putting forward through out the the months that I have been campaigning. And how has the experience of of running familiar opened your eyes. Well, has it changed the way you look at things at all? Now, what have you learned from it? Yeah. I mean, this this idea of direct democracy has come out through that. I have been working on a website as self democracy net a net to make that happen. I have also really got an a better sense for for just how dirty politic is. How much back stabbing, building alliances only to to trump them, to to increase your standing. It's a dirty system and it needs to change. Tell us a little bit more about democracy.net, and what that is, and how are you invigilate in working? Ah. So the the basic idea behind sfdemocracy.net, and it's a part of a larger program that we are trying to do at the new democracy network is that every piece of legislation that goes before the board and every issue facing every San Franciscan should have the ability to be heard on it own page, so that you can login, participate in the this drop hole about how people feel on these issues, discuss the issue on a forum and look for a new solutions that are already on the table and so to build a peoples referendum whether its legally binding or just something that that the that those in city, all can refer to. Its, so shows the will of the people and its an opportunity to bring new solutions to the existing problems forward and really see what works, an what doesn't; what has rationed and what no one really cares about. Would that slow things down a bit there, I mean, if you if you are taking a referendum essentially on everything, you know, doesn't that slow the process or it would be good to slow the process? Well, right now that the voter supervisor introduces a piece of legislation unless every one agrees with it. It's at least one more week towards voted on generally two to three. The internet is pretty quite. We, that that three week time span, its enough for you to logon and and type up three sentences about how you feel. Would that discriminate against people who who don't have internet access or perhaps older people who are uncomfortable with it the disable? Well, I I said from the beginning that the only way that this works in and in actually binding way to actually become part of our system would be if we were to solve all those issue. And there is a lot of work we need to do not only in terms of access but in terms of making people feel comfortable on the internet. I know, I log on to a website and I I feel right at home. But I sit there and meet people everyday who are afraid of the internet and we need to break down those boundaries but that's that's certainly a doable thing. Do you think the internet are is it depersonalizing things too much and that people are sitting at home with a computer and and not having the face to face interaction. Or do you think it increases interaction meet more people, you you discuss issues with people you have never meet but are out on the street? It works both ways. I mean, it will be hard for me to have a conversation with someone that lives in Manila, but at the same time, the more time we spend online, we loose some of that face to face interaction, the sort of cafÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© and environment where you can discuss things one on one in small groups. Well, we are saying starting to see the decay of that but its it's a mixed bag. I think we need to focus on both; in encouraging people to have more face to face discourse and also engaging conversational online and I don't think that they are mutually exclusive, but there are certainly has ups and downs to both. So much of our society and our commerce and culture its being shifted online. I am thinking I am a musician and I know that the old fashion recording studio is is almost absolute. People have their own recording studios in their laptops and there is no need to go to one and you will loose some sense of community that people used to have. Do you do you think this is going to be or is there already a back-clash at all against the increasing netization that can make up a word of the society? I am I am sure there is a lot alike component to our society; and there is good reason for it. There are certain jobs that have been pushed out of the market place as a result of technology. Those that are working in those fields should stand up about that. But, in the long run technology, it gives us more opportunities than it takes away. Now you now you said that, "If you are elected Mayor, you would wear you would wear camera around your your neck." You know was that I think that's how you put it. You would have a camera on all the time to when you are doing City business to show everything you are doing to is opened to to the people. That's I mean, you would like to seem it? I mean, do you think that would work? Well, I mean I am not sure it would have been real acted if he had actually been wearing a camera during the whole office. But that's a whole another story. The the reality is that we don't know what our elected officials do during much of their time. There is bad measure about question time that the Mayor post is where should those in office have the opportunity to should our elected officials in the board of supervisors have the opportunity to discuss matters with the Mayor? The Mayor opposes this. He says, instead I have private meetings with the supervisors on a one and one basis. We don't know what's going there. This is the Public's time. He is a Public official, and we should be able to see what he is doing when he is on City business. And so, I certainly think that having the Mayor's streaming his his activities as Mayor would would open up by counter body and and be an advancement towards open government absolutely. Now we are talking with the video blogger and journalist Josh Wolf. We are going to take you r questions from the audience in just about five minutes. If you have something you would like to ask, please start ling up at the mike in the island and will call on you in starting about five minutes from now. Did you you know the Mayor turned down recently a request for a reality series that would be about him. They would follow him around City Hall and it was going to be called I think Mayor as if Mayor. And you can understand, may be why? Why you turned it down. But, would you invigilate this as sort of a web cam thing; is that the way you invison it? Well, the origin come form sitting on a panel about a month after I got out of jail with a guy name Justin Corn. Now, Justin Corn started a website, Justin.tv and he set out to strain his life 24/7 and he said he wouldn't turn off the camera until he died or until he gave up the experiment. He actually decided to turn off the camera closure with date for fairly obvious reasons. And so felt that's one against the the spirit of it; and so I was like this this is great, but its its totally frivolous. Why do I want to see you go to meetings and try to get money from into investors? Its just its it doesn't make any sense. But if our elected officials were to strain their life, and again I think they should have to strain their entire life because that creates the problem that Justin encountered. But certainly when they are doing the City's Business, that's the time that' that's Public time, that's your money going towards their activities and they should be held accountable. We should be able to tune in and see what they are what they are engaged in. And it makes that have a lot more sense than watching some guy trying to get more financing for his start up. So you think too much of the internet is motivated by the financial concerns someone wants to get rich quick. They want to strike the rich or has a lot of it motivated more by the the wanting to blog wanting to express in a way that people couldn't before? I think the internet in many ways the micro Cosmo member of our society. And I would tend to think that our society is too focused on on how to get rich, how to advance yourself above the people that live next to you; so called keeping up with the Jones I think that the competition in that and their drive to to make more money than the next guy or to come up with some get rich scheme, really a supporting societies as a whole and the same is shown in the internet. On on the privacy of the Public officials, you know, we get may be you get into we get e-mails from from the Governor from the Major; saying, "This is my schedule for the next day which is a fairly recent development. Actually Gray Davis didn't do that. But Arnold Schwarzenegger does, and now does. And they list any events they have and on days when they don't have any, they will say, the Governor or the Mayor will be holding private meetings inside wherever they wherever they work. Now I always wonder, what's actually going on that day? He just had an excuse that just smoke a cigar or who really know what's going on, but as a candidate, did you wear the camera or did you did you do this? Or well, this is something you just would have done if you are an elected Mayor? Well. I am working as full time job by have a blog on seeing it on the side of that and running for Mayor's is not the only project that I am involved in. So the morning time I actually spend campaigning, is is quite small and that time is not the Public's time. I have no bonds about wearing the camera while campaigning, but it just didn't make sense to to engage in the endeavor I think its more important when you are talking about the Public's money than when you are talking about what little money I have to campaign. Well, did you raise money for for your campaign or was it only your own as as whatever little money you did spend? I I have raised a significant amount of money. But I haven't really spent any money beyond the the filing theme, I am still touching upon the filing theme, made a decision not to get any further dead in this and endeavor than - than I had to observe. And have you thought about and obviously you are against career politicians about pursuing this further and and running for something else? My focus right now is pursuing this model for direct democracy. I think that's far more important than electoral politics. And I will continue to move forward with both as if democracy and at the national level the new democracy network, no matter what happens under local political levels. This may be getting into two bigger but should we reform our national system and have a parliamentary system as they do in England, as supposed to the the congress, the way it is setup now. We should have the citizen's referendum. The idea of a parliamentary system is is certainly better than this two party system. But again, we need direct democracy, that's the representative system, it doesn't cut it. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, what we have is the republic, if we can keep it I am sorry to say, but I think we have lost it a long time ago. And is there a support building for the for the idea that, direct democracy idea? There has been a lot to talk about it. And I know Laurence Lessig, Stanford Professor, author of "Free Culture", has dedicated the the rest of his career as he said towards figuring out systems to get rid of political corruption and then I imagined this would be one means to do so. Jimmy Wills has expressed some interest in in moving towards some sort of governmental Wikipedia oriented thing. So I think there is a lot of interest in and really open sourcing our Government. And we can also use it open source of voting system. We have this electronic voting thing that they are all closed systems that no one can access the source code and you really start to wonder whether your vote counts. So along with establishing necessities since referendum, we can actually move and create a model. It's an open source model to provide the means for voting that is accountable; that you can logon and make sure that your vote was registered for who you who you voted for provides all the all the receives that you need to to verify it and get sort of this ambiguity and uncertainly that we have seen with the recent electronic voting systems that have been developed.