One of my favorite new podcasts is WNYC’s 10 Things That Scare Me, a “tiny podcast about our biggest fears.” The premise is simple: someone (the guests, sometimes famous, often anonymous, are unidentified until the end of the show) shares—directly into the mic—ten things that scare them, each with little bit of narrative.
Sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, mostly brutally honest…there’s just something beautiful in the simplicity of this direct sharing of fears. To get a taste, here’s a random sample of fears from recent episodes:
- climate change
- the marionette in my mom’s bedroom
- my Google search history being made public
- becoming irrelevant
- breathing tubes
- being shot by law enforcement.
Also, the relatively lo-fi (but very much intentionally so) format and editing fit the idea perfectly.
Best listened to without looking at the title of the show which, unfortunately, gives away the guest’s identity.
Every year there are millions of podcasts published by tens of thousands of people in hundreds of languages, yet there are really just three podcast directories where people are able to go and look for new shows to enjoy. The vast majority of podcast players will read a directory listing from iTunes in order to provide the most comprehensive search, but none seem particularly good at recommending shows. Given how just about every other service we use online has some sort of algorithm in place to show us music, movies, TV shows, advertisements, and social accounts we might be interested in, why is podcast discovery still such a complicated endeavour?
There are obviously a lot of problems with the podcast ecosystem, and primary among them is podcast discovery and curation. I really wish there were more people working on this problem. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an indieweb solution?
It also makes me wonder what happened to audio platforms like Seesmic, Audioboo.fm, and Cinchcast which made uploading audio pretty simple, though I suppose that there wasn’t much of an audience for that type of audio, in part because the production value and actual content often wasn’t very good. Perhaps things like Soundcloud or streaming video/audio services like UStream have replaced them, but for any kind of bandwith, the cost of hosting goes up, but this also has the economic value of making the quality go up because it requires a bigger investment in production too.
Bill Gates shares his list of best books he read in 2016. The list includes “String Theory” by David Foster Wallace, “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown, and “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke.
I’ve heard there was a lot of dubious science discussed in Mukherjee’s book when it came out, but Gates doesn’t mention any of the controversy in his review. The last two books I listed above are lesser known, and I hadn’t heard about them previously. I’ll have to take a look at them over the coming holidays.