Your host has always wanted to talk to someone about 1984 the book and Dorian Lynskey totally delivers. He just published The ministry of Truth a biography of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Dorian tells us why and how this book has helped generations of readers to decode the world.
In 1984 your host was twelve years old and like George Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith, he kept a diary, for the citizens of the future. For this special installment of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything we travel back in time and give this diary a soundtrack. TV commercials, radio spots, movie clips – all sound from 1984 (the year, not the book). Find out what totalitarianism really sounds like. *********more details on this installment**********
A couple of years ago I wrote a story for the truth podcast, Radiotopia’s one-of-a-kind audio fiction show. Part One ran on the Truth and Part Two ran here. Now that there are actual camps I believe this story warrants another listen.
YouTube insists it is not liable for the hate speech in its platform. This is also what YouTube said about the copyrighted material back when it was a start up in 2006. We revisit YouTube’s history with Chris Stokel-Walker author of the new book Youtubers. Plus your host takes responsibility! Chapter eight in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
ToE's special correspondent Chris tells us the truth about Game of Thrones, Trump, the CIA, and the importance of stories. Chapter seven in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
Right wing populists have stormed the world wide web. They even have a beachhead in China. Chenchen Zhang tells us about the racism and misogyny she found on the knowledge sharing platform Zhihu. And Leta Hong Fincher explains why patriarchal authoritarianism is central to the success of the Chinese Communist Party. Chapter six in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
China’s next generation surveillance technology is being used to build out the world’s internet. But China is also exporting new philosophical and business models. Hao Wu explains how live streaming in China is powered by failures and James Griffiths explains why the free and open internet may soon be replaced by Cyber Sovereignty. Chapter five in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
John Herrman EXPOSES the truth about YouTube’s paranoid style. ToE’s Andrew Callaway DESTROYS Jordan Peterson. (Must listen!!!)
Failure Flashback! Failure has always been a key concept for your host so this week we pull two stories out of the Benjamen Walker podcast archive. First a musical number about the loser behind Blue Suede Shoes and second a morality tale about the artist Paul Gauguin’s spectacular Paris blowout.
Critic Anand Giridharadas demystifies the rise of the thought leader, artist Chris Vargas rememorializes the Stonewall riots and your host clears up where he stands on the YouTube platform. Chapter three in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
In the 1930's,Theodor Adorno fled Nazi Germany. In America, he studied the Authoritarian Personality. On YouTube, he’s the object of study in a massive conspiracy theory that many have tried (and failed) to debunk. Chapter two in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
Filmmaker Astra Taylor asks "What is Democracy?" and YouTube creates the most disliked video in the history of the platform. Chapter One in the new ToE Failure miniseries.
After Meghan Daum’s marriage falls apart she meets some new friends on YouTube. Also, reporter Paris Martineau tells us about a new game changing online harassment tool: the thotbot. Meghan wrote about her journey for Medium and Paris’s reporting is from Wired.
Earlier this summer at a listener meet up in Vancouver your host learned the difference between Listeners and Fans. Find out why this distinction matters. And if you are a fan or a listener donate now to the 2018 Radiotopia campaign! Also: Benjamen and Andrew talk about 2019 AND a bonus segment from ToE special corespondent Chris.
Mark Galeotti takes us into the Soviet Gulag to tell us the brutal history of the Bitch War, ToE's Andrew Callaway checks in on the war on smoking and P.W. Singer explains how #likewar works. Plus Sleeper Net?
The grand finale of False Alarm! This one has it all, the little boy who cried wolf, your host’s AI plant, the paintings of Hilma af Klint, the blockchain powered SingularityNet, and Nuclear Armageddon! Centuries in the making plus a message from the future!
The Night Wolves are a Russian biker gang. Their rallies and bike shows run on state TV and Putin gave members medals for their contributions to the annexation of Crimea. The Kremlin outsources violence, propaganda, and intelligence gathering to groups like the Night Wolves because it supports the intentioned ambiguity of Non-Linear Warfare. Trump is now openly calling for a biker gang of his own. Is this the real Russia connection or is it simply more theatrical ambiguity?
A handful of tech barons now own the news but only one can rule the fake news. A chat with the comedy team behind the CBC’s This is That satirical news show turns into breaking news about Elon Musk.
The Hoaxers took over the Conspiracy Theory Championship Title from the Truthers in December of 2012 in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Eight years later the hoaxers are everywhere, the pizzagaters, the climate deniers, the nationalists, the gaslighters - even the President is a hoaxer. Your host travels to the heart of Hoaxer Darkness: Florida
We’re taking a short break from False Alarm! because your host made a big big mistake. More on that when we return to False Alarm next episode… In the meantime, we raid Benjamen Walker’s audio vaults for a show about making mistakes and being wrong.
I set out on this False Alarm! journey with a quest to figure out how to better deal with this blurry line between fiction and reality. Phase Three of False Alarm! begins with a return to this question… can fiction help us see the truth? Jeffery Lewis, Nuclear expert tired of people ignoring his direct warnings, thinks it can– and he just wrote a novel – a fictional account of what led to North Korea bombing America. I also recently came across a non fiction book, a book that argues it is ...more
The Nazis believed the secret to turning a lie into a truth was repetition, for the Spiritualists it was denial, have computers come up with something new? Phase two of our mega-mini series concludes and we return from our tour of the 1930s and 1880s. ToE’s Special correspondent Chris wraps up his liar’s guide to American history and your host is forced to deal with the Backfire effect! 2018 is not the first time truth, fiction and lies have merged together. In the 1850s people turned to th...more
A postmodern prehistory of post-truth and an alternative history of the Civil War. Our exploration of the Nazi Supernatural concludes with Werewolves and Mass Suicide. Plus: another installment in our False Alarm! fairy tale, the little boy from part one (now designing clothes for the Emperor) gets a surprise visit from a little girl in a red coat! 2018 is not the first time truth, fiction and lies have merged together. In the 1850s people turned to the the dead for answers. In the 1930’s, Hi...more
As the border between border science and science dissolves we continue our examination of two other time periods when science tried to account for both the real and the unreal. In the 1800’s, so much new technology was revolutionizing the world… why not the ability to talk to the dead? And in the 1930s Hitler championed World Ice Theory as an alternative to the Jewish science of Albert Einstein. Plus ToE’s Chris on Operation Paperclip! 2018 is not the first time truth, fiction and lies have...more
Magic! That’s what alt-right face-punchee Richard Spencer claims brought Trump to the White House. Esoteric historian Gary Lachman investigates and discovers an unholy alliance of memes, chaos, and positive thinking. Michael Hughes, author of Magic for the Resistance offers us some counterspells. Also the Hitler’s Magician controversy, the magician at the heart of the CIA, and the Fox Sisters take their spirit knocking to Rochester. Plus your host takes a magical ride down the Trump Tower escal...more
Little girls who can talk to ghosts! The Nazi Supernatural! The legacy of artist Iris Häussler’s first fictional character Joseph Wagenbach. Plus America’s Greatest Lie! 2018 is not the first time truth, fiction and lies have merged together. In the 1850s people turned to the the dead for answers. In the 1930’s, Hitler and the Nazis tried to remake the world using magic and pseudoscience. In phase two of False Alarm! we’re going to bounce between the second half of the 19th century, the inte...more
Many of us are struggling with the real and the fake – but if you’re willing to pay enough, you don’t have to worry about it. Your host collaborates with 99% Invisible on a story about the Emeco Navy chair (the real one and the knockoffs). Artist Sam Stewart introduces us to a creature and his luxuriously useless furniture. Starlee Kine of Mystery Show explains that my real podcasting problem isn’t the real vs fake but ads… and it’s true, dear listeners, because without more ad money, this m...more
The power of the fake person, multiplied! Curator Karen Patterson puts a fake outsider artist in the museum and artist David Levine puts on a museum show about the fake crowd. We hear from a 1937 radio play that featured both Orson Welles and the first fake crowd ever broadcast on the radio. And backstage on our Radiotopia live tour, your host turns to fellow ‘topes Roman Mars and Helen Zaltzman for help deciphering an unexpected laugh. PLUS!!!! The long awaited return of ToE’s original extr...more
Our investigation of the real and the fake continues as your host hunts for a way to monetize it! We ask Alex Goldmark from Planet Money and Bitchcoin artist Sarah Meyohas for advice and author David Golumbia explains how bitcoin really works. Lyn Jeffrey takes us to China to learn about the multi level marketing craze of the mid 1990s and Jed Rothstein tells us about his new movie The China Hustle. Journalist Zeke Faux explains why scammers love Facebook and Toe’s Andrew Callaway visits Supreme...more
The future of face-swapping! The REAL deepfakes speaks! Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson tells us how technology has transformed the way she plays with fact and fiction. Dipayan Ghosh warns us about AI powered ad-targeting. Criminal’s Phoebe and Lauren drop knowledge on the untrue in true crime. Plus your host meets STORMY DANIELS!
Our New ToE series on the battle between the real and the fake begins with a text alert sent out to everyone in Hawaii on a balmy Saturday morning. We also hear from the man who has written the text alert that will go out to all New Yorkers in the event of a real emergency. Photographer Stan Douglas shows us how to reconstruct a future that makes sense, and your host turns to fellow podcaster Jody Avirgan for advice on how to own the “real-ish” podcast genre. Plus the little boy who cried wolf m...more
Our search for Utopia comes to an end at Christiania, an Anarchist haven in the heart of Copenhagen. In 2012 this Utopia went legit, the squatters become property owners. But now they must figure out how to preserve their alternative community, preserve the historical buildings they are now responsible for, and preserve their future. Plus your host loses his Utopian tinted glasses during a musical theater performance of one of his favorite dystopian novels (Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower)...more
Our search for Utopia takes Andrew far from Mundania to the magickal Den of Iniquity in a pagan community called The Valley of The Dragons. Plus, your host takes a tour of FDR’s New Deal Utopias in search of a future that is possible. ********* click on the image for more **************
Donald Trump says all his ‘nuclear knowledge’ comes from his favorite uncle John G Trump. According to ToE special correspondent Chris, Uncle Johnny also gave Donald a time machine ring. Learn all about how John Trump acquired this ring (from Nikola Tesla) and how Vladimir Putin stole it (from Robert Kraft) and what Donald Trump is prepared to do to get it back (nukes). ++++++++++++++ click on image for all the background reports +++++++++
Artist and Filmmaker Ruth Dusseault tells us about how the internet has changed the American Commune. Plus ToE’s Andrew Callaway lets us in on an internet joke about Socialist Dolphins. ***********Click on the image for details about this episode ********
Underneath a giant American Flag in a Midwest Airport Your host takes a knee in order to tie his shoe. Trouble. Big Trouble. Plus False Flag meets Dictionary.com
Our series continues with ToE’s Andrew Callaway reporting from an off the grid fully sustainable little piece of heaven called Earthaven. Plus Will Wilkinson on Libertopia and the limits of Ideal Theory. **********************Click on image for more links and information******************
A new ToE mini series on technology, society, work, art, love (the ToE basics) but this time your host dons a pair of Utopian tinted glasses, and sends Toe Producer Andrew Callaway on the road to visit Utopian communities. Plus Basic Income. ********** click on image for more information and links***********
A special Halloween week fall treat! We’re revisiting a segment from my old podcast Too Much Information. I’ve always wanted to share it here, but this thing I dreamed about in 2010 (Cthulucon, a gathering dedicated to the writings and memory of the writer HP Lovecraft) actually became a real con! I never wanted my dream to compete with that… but well dreams are strong and my friend Luc Sante’s essay on Lovecraft is still one of the best things ever written about the man. ************ Click ...more
When ToE’s special corespondent Chris told me about Russian Gay Bashing Drones onstage during my performance in London I was certain he was once again putting me on – or this was Satire. I forgot that in 2017 anything is possible – except Satire! A few days later I read this.
The ToE family Wisconsin road trip wraps up with a visit to the House on the Rock. Even though Alex Jordan’s tourist attraction is one of the most visionary unique places in the world you still won’t find it on any of the official Wisconsin art environment maps. This never bothered the guy who put it together Alex Jordan Jr, in fact the whole place was built on the idea of sticking it to the official arbiters of culture, plus it pulls in millions of dollars a year in admissions fees! Your host...more
Benjamen, Mathilde and Arthaud head off on a family trip to Wisconsin to see art environments built by immigrants out of concrete and to discover what’s going on in rural America today. Plus: making Pawn America great again! ******** CLICK on PHOTO for a detailed run down on the show *************
Rob Walker and Josh Glenn have a long history of getting writers to share stories about their objects, but when they told me the would be curating an audio collection of stories, and asked if I wanted to collaborate I said absolutely. So here we have it. A ToE/Project Object collaboration: storytellers sharing 100% true tales of objects that for one reason or another they might be reluctant to display in their living room – but that have a personal value or significance that makes them worth kee...more
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an internationally celebrated artist who works with sound and an internationally recognized expert forensic listener. He likes to call himself a Private Ear. Your host visits Lawrence in Beirut to hear more.
Frankie isn’t a real Media Influencer but the Government saw the 500k followers he bought for his Instagram profile back in the day and arrested him anyway. Now he’s in a Media internment camp. This is PART TWO of a special collaboration with the Truth podcast. Head over there to get part one. This is our contribution to Radiotopia’s new crossover series. We all investigate Doing Time to mark the arrival of the new Radiotopia Podcast Earhustle.
A special ToE emergency pod: Chris explains the Orb, Andrew dives into the mystery of Twin Peaks and your host tries attempts SpaCasting.
Direct action saved the gardens in your host’s neighborhood, activist and author L.A. Kauffman explains why it is once again time for more good old fashioned American Radicalism. Plus ToE’s Andrew Callaway maga-ups with the Alt-right on Mayday. Find L.A. Kauffman’s Direct Action book here
Can a Self-Droning drone start up save the Trump Presidency? Our special correspondent Chris fills us in on YouFired!
Empty buildings, run down neighborhoods and cheap rents. This is the bait you need to attract artists, speculators and urban revitalizers. But in order to attract pioneers you also need illusion and myth. We tour the art districts of New Orleans, Los Angeles and Detroit with writer Peter Moscowitz, activist Maga Miranda, and artist Maya Stovall.
Potemkin apps, Fake ads, and the return of little pepe the frog. Your host busts out all his best deep state moves for the grand conclusion of our Surveillance miniseries. Plus Finn Brunton pitches AdNauseum and Siva Vaidhyanathan gives us a tour of the Cryptopticon.
We take a tour of the sprawl with Metahaven to learn about the propaganda of propaganda and we travel beyond the Facebook wall to learn the real truth about targeted advertising. Plus Project Madison Valleywood!
Your host examines the targeted advertising and fake news that some say put Donald Trump in the White House. Plus: the colonial history of Biometric Surveillance. Thanks to Mira Waits, Ethan Zuckerman and Hannes Grassegger
A spy novel from the 80’s gives Donald Trump and his Russian friends some ideas. PLUS your host inspires the youth with cowardice.
The FBI builds more surveillance traps that don’t work, and your host shares a few of his earliest adventures in surveillance.
Our Surveillance miniseries continues with a special holiday episode. Your host visits both the glass room ( a fake pop up store) and the Google pop up store (a real pop up store).
Your host discovers you can’t beat the Russians at the fake game and ToE’s Chris reviews Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden. Plus: Vladislav Surkov and the Potemkin Panopticon.
Donald Trump promises women he will make Surveillance great again. Plus Digital Security Training!
Your host tries his hand at targeted advertising and he dooms his child to a life of exclusion with the simple gift of a stuffed frog. Plus the truth about Facial Recognition.
Your host decides to follow back a Joy Division T-shirt that is following him around the internet. Plus the surveillance that powers behaviorally targeted personalized advertising.
Our new miniseries on Surveillance begins with your host tripping over the corpse of Jeremy Bentham, the man who gave us the Panopticon.
Writer Dan Fox wants to reclaim the word pretentious. Take it back from those who use it like a stick to beat down the curious and the adventurous.
As the 2016 American presidential election heads into the final round – we are featuring a story your host stumbled upon during the last election in October of 2102. Radio producer Silvain Gire tells us about an impossible encounter between Mitt Romney and Guy Debord in Paris 1968. *** Benjamen Walker will join Silvain Gire to talk radio and podcasts at La Maison de Poésie September 11th 2016. details
Your host dreams the future of Self Driving Cars.
The secret history of ISIS from ToE’s special corespondent Chris. PLUS Donald Trump is ready for sacrifice.
Your host opens his file of near misses and close calls. Joe Mazur examines the math and myth behind the stories we call coincidences. Plus a grasp at the law of truly large numbers.
Your host wanders London just before and after Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union.
Part two of your host’s craft beer drinking adventure. As the battle over shelf space intensifies we meet a couple of brewers who are doing things differently?
Your host sets out to better understand America’s craft beer scene. The latest food trend? Or oppositional culture? And can it survive the attention from Megabrew? image: http://www.beercapmaps.com
Your host explores the transition from UFO to Drone on stage as part of Radiotopia Live! and pinpoints the date he crossed his own personal digital divide (Feb 21st 1997). Also filmmaker Alix Lambert tells us about a group of people who are still on Analog time. A version of the prison tape piece ran on 99% invisible. Thanks always to Roman Mars and Katie Mingle. Special thanks to Elyse Blennerhassett who not only introduced us to both Efren and Adolfo but she is also continuing to work with ...more
Yvette Gonzales tells us a first person story about what its like to be transgender in Prison. Gender theorist B. Preciado tells us about what happens when a person takes testosterone without the intention of transitioning from one gender to another. Plus, Jim Elledge tells us about his biography of Outsider Artist Henry Darger, and why he drew little girls with penises. thanks to Sponsor this week: Parachute
A look at the most revolutionary media format that has ever existed and a trip back to 1968 when video became real. Plus Virtual reality!
Your host has a chance encounter with the supposed inspiration for a cult TV show that predicted the future of tech and media. Plus the end of Moore’s law?
Is Donald Trump actually a CIA asset with implants in his small hands or are our brains just wired for paranoia – or both! Rob Brotherton, author of Suspicious Minds, explains how our cognitive biases push us to see Conspiracies everywhere. Plus a look back to when the CIA weaponized Abstract Expressionism (one of the greatest real Conspiracies of all time). image by Celeste Lai
Luc Sante takes us on a tour of “The Other Paris” Benoît Peeters shows us Paris of 22nd century and your host learns why there is so much Brooklyn in the 10th arrondissement image by Celeste Lai
ToE instaserf Andrew Callaway gets invited to do a TED ALPHA Talk on the sharing economy. Mary Gray (a real sharing economy expert) explains why we are anxious about the future of work and Ignacio Uriarte leaves his cubicle to make post-office art. image from the amazing Swedish TV show real humans
Artist Gary Panter packs up and sizes down, Alix Lambert explains the new computer trap. Plus your host on Gordon Comstock (the escaper protagonist of Orwell’s novel Keep the aspidistra flying).
The second half of our sly-fi story about redemption, forgiveness and torture. Margo hopes to leave Christian America with Ali Baba ( a terrorist clone she was given as recompense for the death of her husband). But can they escape before evil Freddie catches wind of their plans? Plus a meditation on the parable of the unforgiving servant.
As 2015 winds down we offer you a story about redemption, forgiveness and torture. When Margo’s husband is killed in a terrorist attack, she is given Ali Baba, a terrorist clone. This is how it works in Christian America in this piece of speculative fiction (although we like the term Sly-fi). Will Margo use her new Walmart deluxe torture kit? Or does she have a greater plan? Also your host declares war on God!
Now that Airbnb has proved it can beat regulation we return to the post-gentrified city. Two! new segments: we meet a landlord (named Benny) who built an illegal artists space in Bushwick, and we visit Astor Place, the embodiment of the New New York, with writer Ada Calhoun (Saint Marks is Dead).
Allen Ginsberg tries his hand at Market Research, Walter Benjamin goes on the radio and ToE’s Chris drops in on a new bar in DC called the Freedom Cock. Also visit radiotopia.fm and become a sustaining member today! image: Celeste Lai
It turns out there are (at least) three ways to tell the secret history of podcasting: it is a story about technology, it is a story about a business model for audio, and it is also a story about the birth of a new art form. What’s really cool is that the whole thing is sort of a Rashomon narrative – in this special edition to mark the radiotopiaforever campaign your host attempts to tell all three versions using the same people. Visit radiotopia.fm to join the radiotopiaforever campaign. ill...more
We take another look at algorithms. Tim Hwang explains how Uber’s algorithms generate phantom cars and marketplace mirages. And we revisit our conversation with Christian Sandvig who, last year 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. Plus James Essinger and Suw Charman-Anderson, tell us about Ada Lovelace, t...more
Your host attempts to write a description for the Podcast. He seeks assistance from an old book, and the plot whisperer.
Photographer Robert Burley takes pictures of the end of analog for his book The Disappearance Of Darkness. Christine Frohnert and Christiane Paul explain why it is difficult to care for digital artworks and Social Media theorist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to understand what is truly revolutionary about ephemeral photographs and platforms like Snapchat. Sponsors: Hellofresh.com (offer code: theory )and Souverain.com
“This is part of the sharing economy, I am sharing myself” Our instaserfs series comes to a crushing conclusion, Hear Instapoder Andrew attempt to manserve… Plus we meet two former Uber drivers! Also this Thursday July 9th 3pm EST a live online ToE post-listening party. Visit spoken.am for details. Your host will be there, along with Andrew and some of the guests featured in the show, plus Mary Gray a researcher who studies labor and the sharing economy. Special thanks to our new sponsor Zady....more
Instaserfs II: “Chipolte Strikes back” or “Seriously, in the sharing economy no one can hear you work” Either tagline works for our second installment in our future of work series. Andrew (our ToE instapoder) continues with his task of working for as many San Francisco sharing economy companies as he can stand this month. Plus Susie Cagle (cartoonist, journalist, and freelancer) explains why the tech community prefers not to talk about the worker. Also: In two weeks, after part three of Inst...more
In the sharing economy no one can hear you work. This is because companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates and others only employ “partners” or independent contractors. So your host decided to partner with Andrew Callaway, a 25 year old San Francisco native, to find out what its like to work in the sharing economy. As the official ToE instapoder Andrew will drive, shop, clean, deliver, and serve for a whole month, and he’s going to record his entire experience. Plus in this episode technology journ...more
Benjamen and Mathilde continue exploring the intersection between France and China over wine. In this installment they traverse China talking with winemakers, wine enthusiasts and drinkers to find out what the emerging middle class of China, one of the most powerful forces on Earth, wants from a bottle of wine. Plus Your host is forced to defend his working methods and his beliefs in the art of living well. ******Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment******* Th...more
The voice of the ToE episode announcer revealed! (her name is Mathilde) and she joins our host for this two part series about the intersection between France and China and wine. The story of the red obsession of Wealthy Chinese has been told many times, but what is going to happen when China’s elusive emerging middle class gets wine fever? Can wine transmit cultural values? Can it transcend consumerism? In this installment Benjamen and Mathilde traverse France to discover this vino nouvelle v...more
In this program (which originally aired on the ABC last December) your host makes his final attempt to build the ultimate anti-social-media-social-platform. Things continue to decline: the phone in the hand becomes the phone on a stick in the hand. And we meet a controversial blogger who overnight becomes one of the internet’s most disliked people. Plus, of course the real dislike club. Thanks to our sponsor http://www.parachutehome.com/theory **** the DISLIKE CLUB Finale was commissioned by ...more
Our series concludes with an attempt to examine the suburbanized commodified inner cityscape of New York. Author and activist Sarah Schulman tells us about the Gentrified Mind, plus we hear from one of the first Airbnbers of New York. PLUS a sneak preview of a new rock musical everyone will soon be talking about. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
Our series continues with a journey from Avenue B to Bushwick: Kathy Kirkpatrick tells us about the final days of her Life Cafe in the East Village and essayist Tim Kreider tells us about his exile in Bushwick. Plus your host tries to make sense of the first time he got a glimpse of the new New York at a party in late September 2008. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
The financial crisis of September 2008 overshadows one of the most important events in recent New York History: the arrival of Airbnb. And while your host wasn’t paying attention back then either, today he is fed up with the commodification of every square inch of the city. But what if the Airbnb economy is also changing the way New York City dreams and makes art? Can it be stopped? Housing Activist Murray Cox gives us a tour of his insideairbnb project, Sociologist Richard Ocejo takes us on a j...more
“G.S.” was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Bozeman, Montana many years ago. The story he told me about how bad karma brought him from Devon, England to the C.U.T. bomb shelters in Gardiner, Montana still haunts me. A few years ago we reconnected and he recounted the whole story for me. Also Astronomer Chris Impey explains how Dark Energy will end it all.
Decades before the first shot was fired in the American revolution a band of runaway slaves known as the Maroons living in the mountains in Colonial Jamaica took on the British Empire and won. I’ve long been obsessed with the Maroons and so last summer I jumped at the opportunity to visit their compound in Charlestown for the annual celebration of their 1739 victory. I learned the Maroons hope to play a leading role today as Jamaica moves down the path of Marijuana decriminalization and legaliz...more
Cédric Villani won the prestigious Fields Medal for his work in 2010. He wrote a book about his experience called Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure. It is a book about where ideas come from. There is something spider like about Villani, and I say that not just because of the pins he is famous for always wearing. He knows how to catch ideas, and he wants to teach us how as well. We also talk with Maria Popova about another great Science book: The art of Scientific Investigation. I fou...more
Yours truly is recuperating from 2014 in France but wishing you a happy holiday. Hope you enjoyed the programming this year. The dislike club series pretty much contains everything I have ever wanted to say about social media. Been thinking about all this stuff for quite some time now, but it all started to crystalize when I got invited to Russia three years ago. I made a show about that trip for my old radio program “too much information” (it used to run on WFMU). I updated it a bit and offe...more
In the penultimate episode of our series, Kathy Sierra tells us how one tweak could fix everything and ToE’s Chris tells us the secret origin of Facebook. PLUS #marksbros (as in Zuckerberg) #marxhegel (as in Groucho) ***ALERT*** the DISLIKE CLUB Finale was commissioned by RADIOTONIC from the ABC’s Creative Audio Unit. Download it here. Or subscribe to their podcast. Look for the Dec 21st episode called the Dislike Club – that is part VI (the finale).
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.
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 ...more
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 t...more
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 twitte...more
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.
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...more
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 sho...more
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.
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. In part two of the story your host has his first human interaction in ten years. Plus radio host Glynn Washington tells us what it was like to grow up black in a white-supremacist Christian cult.
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. In part one we hear the story of what happened when he fought the “three strikes you are out forever” law and lost. Plus Howard Zinn on the myth of American Exceptionalism.
We don’t have metrics to measure what happens when we read something that changes our life. So this episode is an attempt to deal with that. We begin with writer Rob Walker who tells us about his “New Old Thing,” a regular feature he produces for Yahoo Tech. Rob is one of the most thoughtful writers I know and if anyone can wean us from our addiction to the now it will be him. I also get to talk to one of my heros this week: Edwin Frank who is the editor in chief of the NYRB classics imprint. ...more
Philosopher Daniel Heller-Roazen tells us the story of Pythagoras and the fifth hammer and how Kant and Kepler both tried (and failed) to record the universal harmonies Pythagoras once heard. Your host sets out to make some money doing experimental medical testing, and gets the chance to record the voice in his head.
A few years ago your host took a pilgrimage to Copenhagen to walk the streets the great Dane Søren Kierkegaard once walked. He wanted to understand the meaning of Kierkegaard’s religious stage so he decided to ask the experts at the Kierkegaard research center. Also Photographer Dina Litovksy tells us about the history and some of the secrets of the modern bachelorette party. And Michael Holmes tells us about life’s final stage – death. *********Click on the image for the whole story about th...more
This week we examine the legacy of The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility by Walter Benjamin. Media Theorist and Benjamin scholar (and translator) Thomas Levin explains why this essay resonates today and what Benjamin has to tell us about the utopian power of new media. Also Russell Meyer tells us about the Wu-Tang clan’s plan to release a sole copy of their new album and why he has turned to Kickstarter so he can buy it and release it to the world. And your host shares an ...more
Andrew Rubin opens up his Archives of Authority to tell us the story of how George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 became global phenomenons. Melissa Gira Grant tells us about her new book Playing the Whore and the complicated relationship between sex workers, Feminists, Journalists, and the Police. And your host turns to ToE correspondent Peter Choyce for advice on how to fight his bike ticket in traffic court. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment*********...more
In 1984 your host was twelve years old and like George Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith, he kept a diary, for the citizens of the future. For this special installment of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything we travel back in time and give this diary a soundtrack. TV commercials, radio spots, movie clips – all sound from 1984 (the year, not the book). Find out what totalitarianism really sounds like. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this installment**********
Technology consultant Sarah Slocum loves social media and her Google Glass, she wears them everywhere. But when she walked into Molotov’s, a bar on Haight Street in San Francisco, she discovered that not everyone shares her love for wearable gadgets. Also, your host makes his annual pilgrimage to SXSWi and ends up designing wearables at a surreal Hack Day. We also hear from Shingy, AOL’s Digital Prophet. He says wearables will allow us to have it both ways: we can be both digital and human. **...more
After moving to New York alone, writer Olivia Laing discovered the truth about loneliness. She says it is a gift. Eric Klinenberg explains why more and more people are choosing to live alone and why cities like New York must invest in housing stock that singletons actually want to live in, the type of housing they have in Scandinavian countries. In Denmark when someone dies alone, and no-one claims the body, the authorities put an ad in the newspaper calling for Possible Relatives. This is als...more
To Bot or Not? That’s the big question for Data Scientist Gilad Lotan. His research suggests we may be damaging our online reputations if we choose not to play the fake follower game. Jason Q Ng, author of the book Blocked on Weibo, tells us why the Chinese government hates fake bots and why they targeted Black PR companies last summer. And your host imagines a future were humans are forced to shower their new Bot Overlords with unwavering attention. *********Click on the image for the whole sto...more
Social Media theorist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to understand what is truly revolutionary about ephemeral photographs and platforms like Snapchat, Fred Ritchin says we are going to get our minds blown “After Photography” and Finn Bruntun explains why we need to preserve our transition from Analog to Digital.
Photographer Robert Burley takes pictures of the end of analog for his book The Disappearance Of Darkness. Christine Frohnert explains how conservators must care for Art with a Plug. Curator Christiane Paul tells us how the Whitney Museum of American Art restored the digital artwork “the world’s first collaborative sentence” by Douglas Davis. And TOE’s Washington D.C. corespondent ‘Chris’ tells us the truth about Edward Snowden and Snapchat. *********Click on the image for the whole story abo...more
This week your host tries to break through to the other side using the art of John Singer Sargent as a… jumping off point. Also we get an update from our corespondent Peter Choyce. When we last heard from Peter (in “admissions of defeat”) he was heading to rehab, he is now free and living in the woods in North Carolina.
About a year ago I travelled across America for the BBC. I visited Airports, Amusement parks, Highways and Community Colleges in order to understand how the priority queue is changing the American experience of waiting in line. A version of this piece aired on the BBC World Service, part of their “Real America” series produced in conjunction with PRX. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
Programmer David Heinemeier Hansson tells us about his Out Of Office experience, David is a partner at 37signals and a co-author (with Jason Fried) of REMOTE: Office Not Required. We also meet Ignacio Uriarte, he left his cubicle for a career in Office Art. And Ravenna Koenig, TOE’s newest correspondent, explains the difference between Facebook-Work & Work-Work. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
We check in with a few of our TOE regulars: Peter Choyce has is one of my oldest friends and a listener favorite, but he has a secret we’ve never addressed until now. We also check in with our D.C. correspondent “Chris” who tells us about the NSA’s desire to install backdoors in Podcasts. Also, I tell you the story about what happens when I wander into @psychic for a late night reading. PLUS: a few extracts from ‘Brand New World’ *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’...more
Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman tells us about her book Coding Freedom and the time she spent among the Hackers, “Chris” makes his TOE debut with a story about the alleged hacking of the New York Times by the Chinese, and your host wonders if it might be possible to hire a hacker to break into George RR Martin’s computer so that he can read the rest of the Game of Thrones story without having to wait 10 years like everyone else. **********Click on the image for the whole story about this week...more
A torture expert records an imaginary criterion commentary track for the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty. We learn about Umarov Muhibullah, one of the first innocent men to be released from Guantanamo. And your host ponders why Guantanamo is still open. **********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment********
Our series concludes with some revelations. Metahaven uses the story of Wikileaks to show us the infrastructure of the cloud and its super-jurisdictional powers. The BBC’s Paul Mason takes us on a wild tour of China in his novel Rare Earth. And a pile of iPhones brings your host a moment of clarity. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment********
We continue our journey to the center of the cloud, by way of the earth: Rare Earth. China controls 95% of the market for the 17 Rare Earth elements that power our invisible technologies so your host decides to pay a visit to the Ganzhou region, to see the illegal mines in the with his own eyes. ********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment********
Twitter employee #7 tells us what happened when Justin Bieber joined twitter in 2009. An Amazon Data scientist, explains how the cloud is changing our relationship with technology, Obama’s CTO Harper Reed explains why the cloud is awesome + we tour Parse, a hot hot hot (BaaS). But can your host get inside the cloud? *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********