Plastic & Wood: Finding Balance in a Digital World


While I love Internet technology and everything that it enables in my life, there is an emptiness inherent in both the plastic hardware devices and the ephemeral nature of content and communication in digital form. Over the years, as more and more of my life revolves around interfacing with plastic devices connected to digital content, I have felt a real need to also stay connected to something deeper and less temporary, with more historical perspective and physical richness.

For me that is acoustic musical instruments and American roots music. This brings entire dimensions to my life that would be missing if I were solely focused on just the here and now of the Internet. There is more depth and feeling in playing an E chord on a quality acoustic guitar than anything I experience online.

My talk will be about the importance of balance in today‚Äôs plastic, digital world—using acoustic music as an example, including my experience meeting and jamming with John Carter Cash, a Carter Family descendant and son of Johnny Cash.

Steve Gehlen


Steve Gehlen is an Internet strategy consultant, manages professional networks and produces events associated with those networks such as the “Internet Strategy Forum Summit” and “Inverge: the interactive convergence conference”. He is the founder of the Internet Strategy Forum and the Internet Partner Forum. Between 1994 and 2007 Steve spent time as the top Internet strategist at companies such as Nike, Digimarc, Hollywood Entertainment and Oregon Health & Science University.

A musician since age 15, Steve is the co-founder and Director of the American Roots Music Festival, an annual event that celebrates original American music genres. The event is part of “Keeping the Beat”, a nonprofit that Steve founded to raise money for school music programs in rural Oregon.