Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof.com, interviewed Rob Kall, OpEdNews.com founder and host of the “Bottom-Up” talk radio show.
Kall launched OpEdNews in the 1990s and enlisted a group of volunteer editors to help publish submissions to the website. It was at the forefront of a shift in news that challenged the massive top-down centralization of the media.
As he describes, Kall grew interested in how this transformation manifesting itself in culture, politics, and technology was affecting and altering people’s way of thinking and why some generations were more open to changes than others. He went on a journey that developed into a project, which led to his book, “The Bottom-Up Revolution: Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity.”
“People born after 1980 have different brains. Their brains work differently. I’ve checked this out with many neuroscientists, and they all agree,” Kall contends. “They are open to a different world of interacting, and they expect things to be done in a different way.
For those born before 1980, Kall adds, “It’s a challenge for people born before 1980. They have to learn to adapt to it.” They have these top-down minds, and the vast majority “want to be told what to do.”
“I really think that a bottom-up mind is a kind of intelligence. It’s a way of being able to connect with other people,” according to Kall.
He drew a lot of inspiration from the cultures of indigenous people. “We have so much to learn from them.” They have such a “different way of relating to each other in the world.”
“Indigenous people have a much clearer understanding of how to deal with sharing and cooperation and interdependence and the relationship to nature.”
Much of Kall’s book features insights collected from guests or individuals he encountered as he explored the rise of bottom-up thinking in the past 25 years.
“What was a big surprise for me was what bottom-up was and the realization that most people think of bottom-up as grassroots and wisdom of the crowd, crowd-funding, and maybe the commons” on any number of digital platforms. But it really goes beyond these basic examples.
Gosztola owes much of his start in journalism to Kall and OpEdNews.com, who provided a space for him while he was in college to publish his writing and garner a following. It was a platform he utilized while he was an intern at The Nation working on coverage of WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, and documents that were disclosed and published. He was even a volunteer editor for a very short period.
Thanks to the site’s founder, who recognized the power of building a bottom-up news and opinion website, doors have been opened for several individuals who produce work that goes against the grain of establishment or corporate media organizations.
Kall recalls, “One of the reasons I started OpEdNews was I had been doing freelance writing and I had written for national magazines and sold my work there. But it was using snail mail, and it could take a month or two months for the magazines to get back to me. But they did. Then I wrote an article for a progressive website and they published it within two hours, and it blew my mind.”
“That was really cool compared to the old snail mail. Then I said, okay, I’ll write another one, and I sent it in and I didn’t hear from them.”
So, Kall chose to launch a website, where anyone who submitted would receive a response. If OpEdNews does not use an article, writers receive a notice telling them why. He also built a content management system for the site that he still uses today.
Much of what Kall has learned, and what he wants people to recognize and understand in this book, gives him hope. He believes there are many ways this shift empowers people. But his idealism is not mired in any illusions about what has been accomplished.
“You’ve got people who are top-down powers, billionaires, heads of corporations, and they’re benefiting from the top-down culture that we primarily have,” Kall states.
“I believe we’re shifting to a more bottom-up, but it’s still predominantly top-down. And they’re going to fight really hard to keep the power that they have, to keep the wealth that they have, to keep the system and the structure that they have, and we need to change that,” Kall concludes. “And we can change that and we are changing that, and I believe that my book offers a vision of many different ways that bottom-up makes a different world.”