Three Podcast Recommendations

I've been walking around more this past week, and have added some new listening material into my podcast quiver. So if you're interested in something outside your usual information diet, give these three a try:

  • Slate's Stranger Than Fiction. Conversations with science-fiction authors about the intersection of their writing with technology and the contemporary world. This podcast is no longer produced and there are only 6 episodes (dating back to 2013).
  • Pod Save the World. Conversations with people who were involved in American foreign policy decisions. This is part of a series of new podcasts put out by some former Obama-government staff members (aka Crooked Media). The foreign policy discussions are often interesting and they offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of how certain deals were made. So far we've heard about the Cuba and Iran deals made under Obama.
  • Arms Control Wonk. A discussion podcast about nuclear weapons. It's a fairly opinionated glance at some pretty down-in-the-weeds topics relating to nuclear security, particularly from the US perspective, but given that North Korean nuclear weapons are likely to be a big deal in 2017 this is a useful one to follow.

Music, Sound & Technology

Steven Johnson, the author of the fantastic book Where Good Ideas Come From, has been releasing podcasts episodes in advance of the publication of a new book. Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World seems to cover the relationship between innovation and 'play', ideas he has worked to explore in previous books. The podcast series offers a preview of these ideas, engagingly produced and narrated through a series of vignettes and smaller stories.

Episode 3 ("Strange Loops and Circuit Benders (Or, How New Music Comes from Broken Machines)") was an exploration of sound, how our sound universe has been changing alongside technological developments and cultural evolution. Johnson talks to Alex Ross (of The Rest is Noise fame) about how new sounds started to enter into the sonic vocabulary of musicians and creators. The other episodes are interesting, too. If you're interested in music and/or technology, you might want to check this one out.