This week’s guest is writer Lydia Laurenson, editor of The New Modality, whose beat explores how people find and make meaningful lives in our era of change, anxiety, and new opportunity. For years Lydia also wrote a popular BDSM blog under the pseudonym Clarisse Thorn, an experience that has profoundly shaped the way she understands plural and mutable identity in the digital age — and the importance of protecting our right to act behind created identities in the web’s cultural commons. In this episode, we discuss the years of weird and wonderful adventures she’s had as a writer and a researcher of digital society, and how those experiences have shaped her vision for a new print magazine…

About The New Modality:

Kickstarter • Medium • Facebook • Twitter

Related Writings:

Lydia Laurenson:

“My Year in San Francisco’s $2 Million Secret Society Startup”

The Atlantic article about internet pseudonyms and anonymity 

O’Reilly article about culture’s impact on social media adoption 

Policy briefs on digital media governance and polarization

Clarisse Thorn’s Website

Michael Garfield:

The Future Acts Like You


The Latitude Society and postmodern startup esotericism.

Can we scale community? Can we continue to redefine ourselves in an increasingly regulated planet-scale society?

Pseudonymity and speaking freely on the Web…the importance of being able to explore new versions of yourself, to entertain a plural identity.

Reimagining the family. Coming to care about the conversation around alternative parenting approaches…having children without having a romantic relationship.

3+ parent families, platonic co-parenting, co-housing distributed childcare, and other forms of interdependence emerging in our pluralistic and atomized age.

Polarization, peacebuilding, and digital governance on social media.

The individual as institution, the long tail, Rule 34, and the future of evolutionary vascularization.

Can we design social media to help people respect each other more and foster better conversation? (And if so, why aren’t we doing it?)


Erik Davis • Doug Rushkoff • Vice Magazine • Whitney Houston • Blade Runner 2049 • Hypermodernity • Lazarus (Graphic Novels) • Altered Carbon • Adam Curtis – Century of the Self • Her (movie) • John Perry Barlowe • Papadosio • Tricia Wang • Oprah • SXSW • The Benedict Option • Mirta Galesic • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin • Andrés Mora (writer) • Toda Peace Institute

Cover Photo by Jane Hu