Podcast Roundup

I have a podcast problem… Too much audio and not enough time. This usually results in me listening to podcasts whenever I can, just to keep up with my growing feed. This summer I added to the problem by listening to the whole (and brilliant) History of Rome which led me to fall even further behind on my listening.


Then yesterday – the horror – my app crashed. This led to a frantic scrambling for the last backup – which naturally was way too old to be interesting. Thankfully, and with the wonderful twitter support my issue with RSSRadio Podcast Downloader was fixed by the developer himself and my listening could continue. So today, after the fact, its time to do a backup. And since I am doing that I may as well list the podcasts that right now have my ears. Here are the names and their rss feeds. 


The History Hour – – – Analysis – – – Great Lives – – – Drama of the Week – – – The Moth – – – From Our Own Correspondent Podcast – – – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 – – – Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review – – – Spanarna i P1 – – – Comedy of the Week – – – This American Life – – – The Infinite Monkey Cage – – – Revolutions – – – 99% Invisible – – – BackStory with the American History Guys – – – TED Radio Hour – – – Serial – – – The Why Factor – – – Thinking Allowed – – – A Point of View – – – In Our Time – – – Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything – – – Radio Diaries – – – The Truth – – – Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters – – – the memory palace – – – The Allusionist – – – Reply All – – – TLDR – – – Four Thought – – – Death, Sex & Money – – – Gastropod – – – Lore – – – No Such Thing As A Fish – – – Us & Them – – – Criminal – – – Life of the Law – – – Vox’s The Weeds – – – Intersection – – – Imaginary Worlds – – – KCRW’s UnFictional – – – The New Yorker Radio Hour – – – Radiolab – – – Invisibilia – – – Planet Money – – – Hidden Histories of the Information Age – – – Results May Vary Podcast Podcast: Design Thinking for Living – – – Popaganda – – – KCRW’s Here Be Monsters – – – The Philosopher’s Arms – – – Note to Self – – – Strangers – – – Esquire Classic Podcast – – – The Documentary – – – Moral Maze – – – The Heart – – – Radio Motherboard – – – 2 Dope Queens – – – Codebreaker – – – Longform – – – Call Your Girlfriend – – – For Colored Nerds – – – Imagine Otherwise – – – There Goes the Neighborhood – – – Monocle 24: The Urbanist – – – Audio long reads – – – Code Switch – – – The History of Rome – – – Bildningspodden – – – Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – – – Reasonably Sound – – – Flash Forward – – – The Nerdist – – – The History of English Podcast – – – The New York Public Library Podcast – – – You Must Remember This – – – Philosophize This! – – – PhDivas – – – Revisionist History – – – LIFE101.audio – – – ReLearning Podcast

Some of these I have been following for a long time, others I have gone back to listen to their whole back catalog (some may not longer be coming out with new episodes and I really need to delete them). Then there is some new stuff for me like PhDivas, of which I have only listened to one episode so far. And some I have just been released – like Life101 which is Mike Wesch’s new podcast project.                                                                                                file5                                               file4file6







The post crash and end of summer is a good time to go through my feed and begin prepping for the start of term – even when it comes to podcasts.



You can hear dead people

I have just listened to Einstein explaining his most famous theory. It’s still rather complicated and I really should read more about it – but listening to his voice is… thrilling.

Recently I listened to a 1938 recording of Sigmund Freud.

Sure, these recordings existed before the Internet – but the ease of access is what makes it all work.

For every time I despair about what the internet has done wrong, things like this make it all better.


BBC to adopt open standards

The director of BBC Future Media and Technology Erik Huggers has announced that they will move away from proprietary software into open standards.

The advantage for the audience will be a noticeable improvement in audio and video quality. Furthermore, it should become easier for the media to simply work across a broader range of devices. While it’s not a magic bullet, it certainly is a significant step in the right direction. The first service to make content available using these open standards based codecs will be iPlayer. Anthony Rose will have more details of introducing H.264 to the iPlayer later today. It is our intention for other AV services across bbc.co.uk to follow quickly.

Computer intelligence

This week’s tech podcast from the Guardian contains some really good stuff. Igor Aleksandr and Ray Tallis discuss whether computers can be intelligent as humans?

The funny part with computer intelligence is that teaching computers really difficult stuff (for example advanced chess) is relatively easy. Trying to teach computers the stuff we take for granted as infants is really difficult. The variations (cultural, local, temporal) in making and eating breakfast (even defining breakfast is a complex affair) are infinite compared to chess

Listen, or try one the podcast feed URL.

Digital Culture book

The book Structures of Participation in Digital Culture is now available for download for free. Here is a part of the blurb:

Structures of Participation in Digital Culture, …explores digital technologies that are engines of cultural innovation, from the virtualization of group networks and social identities to the digital convergence of textural and audio-visual media. User-centered content production, from Wikipedia to YouTube to Open Source, has become the emblem of this transformation, but the changes run deeper and wider than these novel organizational forms…

The contents include some familiar and some unfamiliar names and a lot of chapters that seem worth reading, take a look at this:

  • The Past and the Internet (Geoffrey Bowker),
  • History, Memory, Place, and Technology: Plato’s Phaedrus Online (Gregory Crane),
  • Other Networks: Media Urbanism and the Culture of the Copy in South Asia (Ravi Sundaram),
  • Pirate Infrastructures (Brian Larkin),
  • Technologies of the Childhood Imagination: Yu-Gi-Oh!, Media Mixes, and Everyday Cultural Production (Mizuko Ito),
  • Pushing the Borders: Player Participation and Game Culture (T. L. Taylor),
  • None of This Is Real: Identity and Participation in Friendster (danah boyd),
  • Notes on Contagious Media (Jonah Peretti),
  • Picturing the Public (Warren Sack),
  • Toward Participatory Expertise (Shay David),
  • Game Engines as Open Networks (Robert F. Nideffer),
  • The Diablo Program (Doug Thomas),
  • Disciplining Markets in the Digital Age (Joe Karaganis),
  • Price Discrimination and the Shape of the Digital Commodity (Tarleton Gillespie),
  • The Ecology of Control: Filters, Digital Rights Management, and Trusted Computing (Joe Karaganis).

Download the Entire Book

Revisting the Hoax

Back in 1996 Alan Sokal published an article called “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” in the journal Social Text. The article was praised as a breakthrough, written by Sokal the physics professor, it was filled with complex terms and post-modernist arguments. It was laced with references to mathematics and physics (it was a sociology text but this was the trend of the time).

Arguing that quantum gravity has progressive political implications, the paper claims the New Age concept of the “morphogenetic field” (not to be confused with the developmental biology use of the same term) could be a cutting-edge theory of quantum gravity. It concludes that, since “physical ‘reality’ … is at bottom a social and linguistic construct”, a “liberatory science” and “emancipatory mathematics” must be developed that spurn “the elite caste[‘s] canon of ‘high science'” for a “postmodern science [that] provide[s] powerful intellectual support for the progressive political project”. (The Sokal Affair – Wikipedia)

The problem was that the article was not truthful but was written to see if the journal could be fooled to, in Sokal’s words, “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.” Obviously when the scandal broke out lots of people were very annoyed (The Sokal Affair – Wikipedia).

Via Ting och Tankar I learned that Alan Sokal has now written a book on the affair “Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture” you can also listen to a podcast interview from the Guardian science weekly. Here is the blurb from the Oxford University Press

Now, in Beyond the Hoax , Sokal revisits this remarkable chapter in our intellectual history to illuminate issues that are with us even more pressingly today than they were a decade ago. Sokal’s main argument, then and now, is for the centrality of evidence in all matters of public debate. The original article, (included in the book, with new explanatory footnotes), exposed the faulty thinking and outright nonsense of the postmodernist critique of science, which asserts that facts, truth, evidence, even reality itself are all merely social constructs. Today, right wing politicians and industry executives are happily manipulating these basic tenents of postmodernism to obscure the scientific consensus on global warming, biological evolution, second-hand smoke, and a host of other issues. Indeed, Sokal shows that academic leftists have unwittingly abetted right wing ideologies by wrapping themselves in a relativistic fog where any belief is as valid as any other because all claims to truth must be regarded as equally suspect. Sokal’s goal, throughout the book, is to expose the dangers in such thinking and to defend a scientific worldview based on respect for evidence, logic, and reasoned argument over wishful thinking, superstition, and demagoguery of any kind.

Small Arm of Sea

Right now I am listening to Small Arm of Sea which is Tone’s cool debut album. This Danish artist has really got things right and not only musically. She has released her album under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd) license. So it’s free to download and enjoy from her website.

If you prefer to read about your music first then here is a short description from the blurb off her web:

With her abstract break beats, delicate voice and mesmerizing lyrics, female singer, performer and producer Tone is known for her powerful experimental electronica sounds ranging from energetic uplifting moods to bleak shades of melancholy. Musically, she creates a remarkable, audiovisual realm, in which her light and spellbinding voice adds to a bedrock of crunchy break beats, abstract compositional structures and catchy melodies.


Talk like a pirate day

Today is the official (is there an unofficial one?) Talk Like a Pirate Day. For those among us who are not familiar with the correct vocabulary and pronunciation there are some basic and advanced guidelines here. Naturally no education would be complete without the audio-visual aids so naturally there is a helpful video on the topic on YouTube.

For the more curious among you there is naturally more information about how the Talk Like a Pirate Day was started way back in 1995. The official website also includes a top ten of pirate pick-up lines including the classic (but widely unsuccessful): How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

ISP Liability in Sweden

Yesterday, the Cecilia Renfors presented the results of her investigation on copyright issues in relation to the Internet (press release in Swedish). The investigation entitled Music and Film on the Internet – threat or possibility? (Musik och film på Internet – hot eller möjlighet?). The purpose of this investigation was to understand and to create a way in which illegal file-sharing would decrease and users would be encouraged to pay for the downloading of video and audio.

The main suggestion in this investigation is to hold the ISP’s liable for users’ treatment of copyrighted material. In reality this would entail that the ISP would move from being an anonymous carrier of information to being actively involved in the content their customers desire. Cecilia Renfors suggests that the ISP’s should be forced to, for example, close accounts for users involved in illegal file sharing.

These suggestions have not been accepted quietly. Naturally the ISP’s are protesting – they don’t want to chase their own customers. But there is a wider issue at stake here.

Suppose that an Internet account is terminated because it has been used for illegal file sharing. This punishment does not fit the crime. Considering the drive towards e-government and the amount of services which are moving wholly online the loss of one’s Internet connection is too high a punishment. Another question is who actually carried out the downloading? Was it the underage child? Or is it a neighbor abusing an open network?

Most users do not know enough about their technology to control their own Internet accounts. In addition they do not know enough about the complexities of copyright law in relation to the Internet. A study (pdf here – in Swedish) user’s rights (paid for by an ISP), also presented yesterday, shows that most people do not know which actions in relation to the copying of copyrighted material are legal or not. This latter study shows that 83% of Swedish teenagers download music from the Internet. Half of them believe that when they make a copy of music for a friend or family member that this act is also illegal.

An example of scenarios presented in the examination:

My friend has bought a song on the internet. She plays it for me on her mp3 player and I would like to copy the song to my mp3 player. Is this act legal?

Teenagers answer
* No: 51%
* Yes: 29 %
* Don’t know: 21%

Teenagers parents answer:
* No: 55%
* Yes: 21 %
* Don’t know: 24%

The correct answer is that this act is legal. Sharing a legally purchased song with friends and family is permissible. It is not permissible to share it to the general public nor is it legal to circumvent technical protection measures to copy the song.

The lack of legal and technical information makes this a sensitive issue. Naturally everyone within a society is expected to know the laws which applies to them. Ignorance of the law can never be a defence. However, the fact is that few people really know whats what in copyright and online environments.

If we create an environment where we begin closing access to Internet we are taking a step back in the information society. Access to Internet today is arguably more important than being connected to a telephone system. Not that I would like to give up either.