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Put This In Your Ears

Podcast

I have a relatively long list of podcasts that I listen to. Some I play every episode, some I just dip into when the topic and the people involved seem interesting.

Here are a few in my queue that you may not have found before:

A thought from… Stephen Fry

While almost everyone is keen on being right and exposing what is wrong with others, almost no one out there suggests there can be anything wrong with themselves.

— Stephen Fry, in the introduction to his podcast, The 7 Deadly Sins

Listen To This

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Three podcast episodes I heard this past weekend that you might like…

Related to my recent rant concerning creativity as a skill, a segment of Freakonomics asked Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (61:34) The host spoke with a scientist, a graphic designer, a museum curator, James Dyson (of vacuum cleaner fame), and others about their creative process.

This is the third part in their series titled How To Be Creative and part two is also good, asking Why Do Schools Kill It Off?

Another podcast segment was also part three of a series, this one from Planet Money and dealing with the issue of antitrust (23:56). Specifically this segment discusses whether the size and reach of huge companies like Amazon “is a threat to competition, and ultimately to consumers”.

As with every segment of Planet Money, they do an excellent job of making a complex issue both interesting and even entertaining.

Finally is the first episode of a new podcast from the news site Quartz called Should This Exist? (33:36). Each segment looks at the promise of a new technology, along with the possible negative impact on both the user and society.

The first invention certainly fits the criteria: Halo is a headset that is supposed to stimulate the brain and help the wearer learn “as fast as a kid”. As they say, what could possibly go wrong?

My only criticism of the segment is that I don’t think the host challenged the inventor enough, especially on the potential ethical issues. But the premise of the podcast sounds like it will be worth at least a few more listens.

Nothing To Concern You

If you want a glimpse of one potential future use for social media, listen to this episode of the Marketplace Tech podcast (5:10). The host and her guest discuss a plan in China that assigns a “social credit score”, based on a variety of factors including financial responsibility and “social responsibility”, to every one of their citizens.

However, the really depressing part of this story comes at the very end.

The Chinese government hopes to have a national social credit framework in place by 2020. The scheme has raised alarm bells among human rights activists, but Pak says, everyday citizens don’t seem overly concerned.

Everyday citizens not being overly concerned with a government plan to track them is exactly how people lose their rights. The same is true for companies that are track those same citizens.

And, despite all the high-profile stories about the crappy way Facebook and other companies mishandle user data, too many US citizens still don’t seem “overly concerned”.

At what point will that change?

Listen To This

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Do you ever pay close attention to the sounds that are around you? Telling the “stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds” is the theme of a new-to-me podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz. I’ve only listened to a few episodes so far, but if this topic sounds interesting (pun intended), I recommend starting with these two segments.

First is Muzak, which anyone of a particular age (re: older) will recognize as the company that became synonymous with the concept “elevator music”. Today, music and other sounds are carefully and scientifically designed to help stores, restaurants, and other businesses improve productivity and profits.

The other is Disney Parks in which sound designers (Imagineers) for the entertainment company explain how they program music and other sounds to enhance the amusement park experience. Even in It’s a Small World, which all sounds the same to me.

Both segments, which run about 20 minutes each, might be good programs to play for middle or high school students studying science, social studies (this work involves a lot of psychology), or music.


The image is from Pixabay and is used under a Creative Commons license.

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