{ jenny ryan }

cyberanthropologist, poet, commoner free culture advocate
My current mission is to work alongside existing and emerging organizations to build human and communications infrastructure, connecting grassroots communities and global initiatives rooted in the shared struggle to reclaim the commons, create public spheres through the cultivation of open spaces, and enable direct democracy through principles of federation and open source or Read/Write culture. I am currently preparing to begin a legal apprenticeship to better serve disadvantaged communities in navigating bureaucracy and fighting the injustice system.

First smitten with the field of anthropology upon learning about bonobos (a breed of chimpanzee that literally makes love not war), I have found myself drawn toward theories of neotribalism, liminality/communitas, and proxemics (the study of the distance people feel is necessary to put between themselves and others). My past research ranges from an extensive ethnography of online social networking (The Virtual Campfire), to digital literacy skills for the 21st century (with Howard Rheingold), to the legal and ethical dimensions of problematic online content (with danah boyd), to posthuman anthropological explorations of how the dead live on online.

Current projects focus around collectively stewarding shared space and resources in Oakland, California [Omni Commons], building a community-owned mesh network in the East Bay [The People’s Open Network/Sudo Mesh], helping to organize an emerging Oakland hackerspace (Sudo Room), designing a decentralized platform for coordinating objects, projects and people [Mycelia], and related efforts to map out and coordinate collaborative spaces and cooperative economies. I love meeting new people, and encourage curious folks to schedule time to chat with me.

In my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry, dancing, coffee-fueled conversation, creating ambiance and cozy spaces, wandering the earth, and acting as a connector of aligned humans, groups and projects.


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust