Recent Discoveries from the Queen of Podcasts

Hello all out there,

It’s been a little while. Sorry for letting you hanging there, I went back to work, as you can tell. Shame really, because I could have made this blogging business a full-time gig the way I was going at it! So I am back with a vengeance: I have discovered new treasures in the podcast world. And who else to share it with than the rest of the world via my little blog?

The first new discovery is ‘99% invisible‘ a podcast by Roman Mars. I discovered it whilst listening to Radiolab, one of my old favourites and Jad Abumrad featured a few episodes of Roman’s podcast on his own show. To be honest, it’s a pretty bold and cool thing to do: Use your airtime and your audience to promote someone else’s superb work. I appreciate that about public radio, it makes things so much better, for everyone…. So I took the opportunity of getting a new iPhone (don’t ask what happened to the old one, not a happy memory) and downloaded some episodes of 99% invisible. The concept is that 99% of design is invisible, it precedes the development of objects and built form. The idea of focusing on how design does not only relate to actual result but is also an upstream process has a lot of appeal to me. To be honest, it’s what I make a living out of, so hearing someone engage with that idea in such a public forum was really music to my ears (no pun intended). I haven’t listened to the whole season, but the episodes I have gotten through so far have been spot on: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, The Biography of 100,000 sq feet, the Feltron Annual Report and the Design of Airport are investigations into the unacknowledged labour and invisible decision-making culture which underpin the objects we interact with and the cities we live in. Seriously awesome work.

The second discovery is another BBC Radio 4 treasure called ‘The Secret History of Social Networking‘. It’s about time someone made a proper show on what has effectively revolutionised our expectations of communication and information! Rory Cellan-Jones investigates the origins and the current developments in social networking. Facebook, Twitter and other usual suspects predictably make the bill, but the more fascinating explorations are those of networking platforms that have been around for a while like The Well and other electronic community dashboards that started making an appearance as early as the 1970s. Again, there’s much more to discover there, but I will be interested in following the evolution of the podcast, as social media-type functionalities become the benchmark for most information interfaces in the future.

That’s it for now!

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