Do you love the internet and technology? Do you love podcasts? Well, this is the recommendation list for you.
I wrote about three of my favorite podcasts that try to understand all the weird things that happen because of technology. Plus one bonus recommendation for a beloved but departed show, that I’ll miss forever. Ears at the ready!
I kind of feel like if you love podcasts, there’s a good chance you already listen to Reply All. It is a very popular and amazing podcast. But if you haven’t already heard it, it would be incredibly rude of me to leave it off this list.
Reply All is hosted by delightful double act PJ and Alex. The show offers beautifully reported stories that somehow relate to the internet. They also do investigations into personal internet mysteries (in their regular segment Super Tech Support), and another regular segment (or reg seg, as they shall henceforth be known) called Yes, Yes, No - in which the team’s less internet-savvy CEO attempts to understand tweets so packed full of topical references and memes, only a true internet nerd could fully decipher them.
I’m just gonna say it - THIS IS MY FAVORITE PODCAST.
I was first recommended this show by Three Whiskey’s own Matt Tamkin. The show is made by The Verge and it’s hosted by journalists Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany. They describe it as “...a podcast about the choices technology forces us to make … [it] asks the hard, weird, occasionally dumb questions about how your tiny tech decisions impact your social life.”
Some of the topics they’ve covered on WYPTB include why you type the way you do in texts (e.g. caps or no caps??), whether it’s ever ok to record a stranger with your phone, when and why you share your location, etc.
The show is great because it makes you realise just how many small (but cumulatively significant) decisions we all have to make now - often without even thinking about it consciously. It forces you to reflect on the ways technology affects our lives. But also, it’s very funny and entertaining. Winner!
This podcast came to me via another friend recommendation a few years ago (as most good podcast recommendations do). Note To Self is a tech podcast hosted by Manoush Zomorodi - extremely likable and knowledgeable journalist, author and general human being. Manuosh has also written a book called ‘Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self’. If you love spacing out, you’ll love this book.
On Note To Self specifically, it’s another great podcast that helps you think about how you relate to the technology you use - what’s making your life better, what might be hindering your quality of life, and ambitious stories about things like how the dark web could be fuelling big social problems like the US opioid crisis.
The podcast went on hiatus for a while, but it’s just returned on the paid podcast subscription service Luminary, and I feel that your listening life will be all the better for checking it out if you are a Luminary subscriber. And if you’re not about to pay money for a podcast subscription, you can still find all the pre-Luminary episodes on your usual podcast app.
Internet Explorer was a Buzzfeed podcast that sadly stopped releasing episodes a couple of years ago. But in its prime, it was a really funny, often very silly, but also incredibly prescient podcast about the online world - made by two Buzzfeed reporters (Katie and Ryan) who are intimately familiar with the best and worst the internet has to offer.
Sure, they did annual episodes where they ranked the 50 worst things on the internet that year. But they were also among the first people to report on things like the role social media plays in recruitment to extremist organizations. Internet Explorer was an amazing place where all the humor and horror of the internet could live together in all its weird, complicated messiness.
There are lots of episodes in the IE feed that are totally timeless, so I would recommend diving into the back catalogue and seeing what weird and wonderful stuff you can find.