In a recent segment of his Revisionist History podcast, Malcom Gladwell takes on the Lord of the Rankings. Also known as the US News & World Report annual list of the “best” colleges and universities in the United States.1
The ranking was first published in 1983 as a tool to raise their profile (and sell magazines) in the pre-internet era when they were a distant third to Time and Newsweek in the category of weekly news magazines.
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:
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
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.
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?