Wishful Thinking (the dislike club part IV)

In 2007 writer, programmer, and horse trainer Kathy Sierra quit the internet because of misogynist hate trolling. She stayed off the social web for 7 years but last year she came back to see what Twitter was like. She tells us why she only lasted a few weeks and her theory about why so many women are targets online. Plus Danielle Keats Citron explains how we could use the law to drain the cesspool.


If you dislike like, then you will… (the dislike club part III)

This week Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman tells us about the internet’s original Dislike Club, Anonymous. Biella has spent the last eight years hanging out with Anons both on IRC and in IRL. Her new book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the many faces of Anonymous”  is the definitive book on the topic, nothing else comes close.  Biella also gets me to watch V for Vendetta, something I have refused to do out of my fanboy respect for writer Alan Moore (who refused to watch it or put his name on the movie). I wish I could un-see it already.  Also: Commodify your dislike!


Paying For It (the dislike club part II)

Our mini-series about the internet continues. This week we take a close look at the fundamental business model of the web – advertising. In 1993  your host was a founding member of an international monkey wrench gang that fought billboards in outer space. He recently ran into one of his old comrades in Midtown-South (Manhattan’s tech district) and discovered that his side actually lost the war. Ethan Zuckerman, the man who invented the pop up ad, admits that we must rethink the fundamentals of the web, and activist, writer, and filmmaker Astra Taylor questions whether the internet actually benefits independent creators.


The Dislike Club is  a story-in-progress, it will play out on the podcast over the next few weeks and then culminate December 21 on Radiotonic, from ABC RN’s Creative Audio Unit.

Backspace to the Future (the dislike club part I)

Paul Ford is a technologist and a writer, sometimes these two things blur. For example, he’s currently working on a book about webpages, but he’s also building a content management system for webpages –  because you know it could help with the writing.  (yeah his book is late) Its not like he’s trying to procrastinate, this is just what life is like when you are Paul Ford.  A couple of Monday night’s ago he was sitting on his couch drinking some rye whisky and chatting with his friends on twitter  and he accidentally a brand new webpage community.  This is the true origin story of his tilde.club. Yours truly also started a new thing it is called dislike.club. We also check in with Librarian and community manager Jessamyn West for advice on how to start an online community that doesn’t suck.

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The Dislike Club is  a story-in-progress, it will play out on the podcast over the next few weeks and then culminate December 21 on Radiotonic, from ABC RN’s Creative Audio Unit.


Making it Happen

For this special installment of the Theory of Everything we explore Maker Culture. Makerbot co-founder Bre Pettis gives us a tour of his new venture: Bold Machines. Plus we go to China to learn what the next generation of Chinese makers have planned for the future.  ** Plus there are less than 10 days left in our Kickstarter campaign. We need 20,000 of you to show up in order for our radio revolution to succeed – we can’t do it without you!


Radiotopia LIVE (preview of the dislike.club)

The theory of everything is a founding member of Radiotopia, the world’s best podcast network. And we are midway through our Kickstarter. We made our 250,000 goal in one week! But our work is not done. We want to change radio forever. We want to create more shows and a viable ecosystem so that we can all thrive. We need to make a ton of noise, so we can make headlines. To do this we need you: we need 20,000 of you to back Radiotopia. If you have already done this THANK YOU really it means so much. If you can get a family member or a friend to do the same (1 dollar is more than enough) now that would be amazing. Like I said we are not going to get to 20,000 without your help. And Hover.com, the same folks who got me dislike.club, and the same folks who have been sponsoring the podcast over the past few weeks – they have thrown down a 25k challenge. So if we get to 20,000 we get even more money. I have been dreaming of Radiotopia for ten years – I want more than anything for this to work. At our party I performed a preview of my upcoming series – the dislike.club – it will begin in a few weeks. You will enjoy it and it will be weekly! Yes, WEEKLY!


Help Kickstart the future of Radiotopia (plus a visit from ToE’s Chris)

ToE is a founding member of Radiotopia, the world’s best podcast network, and we just launched our first Kickstarter campaign. We want to raise as much money as possible so we can create a future for amazing audio (they used to call it radio, now we call it podcasting)

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long long LONG time. Over the past 15 years I’ve worked at a bunch of big Public Radio Institutions and while there are some great people at these places, I learned that the future just isn’t going to be created there. Perhaps it is just too hard to change an institution. That is why we are creating a new one: RADIOTOPIA. In this episode I talk about why Radiotopia is so important to me and I get our ringleader Roman Mars to clear up a few things as well. Plus we get a surprise visit from ToE’s special corespondent Chris.

Help us build out our vision.

Enchanting By Numbers

When I was in Beijing last summer I dropped by the Microsoft research campus to talk with  Dr. Yu Zheng. He studies the air pollution in his city, and the noise pollution in mine. Using algorithms he is able to predict what kinds of noises New Yorkers are most likely to hear in their neighborhoods, take a look at his Citynoise map. His algorithms could one day help city planners curb air pollution and noise or as Christian Sandvig notes they could be used by the GPS apps on our mobile devices to keep us from walking through neighborhoods perceived to have loud people hanging around outside.

Christian Sandvig studies algorithms which is hard to do, most companies like Facebook and Google don’t make their algorithms public. In a recent study he asked Facebook users to explain how they imagine the Edgerank algorithm works (this is the algorithm that powers Facebook’s news feed). Sandvig discovered that most of his subjects had no idea there even was an algorithm at work. When they learned the truth, it was like a moment out of the Matrix. But none of the participants remained angry for long. Six months later they mostly reported satisfaction with the algorithms that determine what the can and can’t see. Sandvig finds this problematic, because our needs and desires often don’t match with the needs and desires of the companies who build the algorithms.

“Ada’s Algorithm” is the title of James Essinger’s new book. It tells the remarkable story about Ada Lovelace the woman who wrote the first computer program (or as James puts it – Algorithm)  in 1843. He believes Ada’s insights came from her “poetical” scientific brain. Suw Charman-Anderson, the founder of Ada Lovelace day, tells us more about this remarkable woman.


It will always be hard

When the photographer Garry Winogrand died in 1984 he left behind hundreds of thousands of unpublished negatives and undeveloped rolls of film and a few out of print books that are still treasured by connoisseurs and photo book collectors today. It’s always bothered Leo Rubinfien that his friend Garry’s legacy is bound up with these hard to find books, for leo a much better way to appreciate the genius of Garry Winogrand is through his slideshows. Recently Leo Rubinfien got an opportunity to show the world the Garry Winogrand he knew and loved, SFMOMA invited him to guest curate a Winogrand show. The exhibit  took years to put together, and at the outset SFMOMA’s assistant curator of photography Erin O’toole was nervous, but she tells us why she is now in the cult of Winogrand too.  While your host was in Australia this summer he met up with one of his new favorite artists, the cartoonist Simon Hanselmann. Simon is one of the most compelling voices of his generation, but while his characters are all sex, drugs, and rock and roll Simon just works. Also we reminisce about the early days of the web with ToE regular Peter Choyce who believes he had one of the first ten blogs. Three reminders that being an artist will always be hard.




Man Without a Country (3 of 3)

What happens when you curse your own country? In this version of the classic Americana tale your host is sentenced to live out the rest of his days in a hot air balloon.  Our story concludes(?) when your host attempts to turn bread into wine. Plus learn about the origins of the tale of the Man without a Country and the various versions that have been produced over the last hundred years.