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Society & Culture
Technology
Documentary

Soonish

Updated 2 days ago

Society & Culture
Technology
Documentary
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The future is shaped by technology—but technology is shaped by us. Every month, Soonish brings you stories showing how the choices we make together forge the technological world of tomorrow. From MIT-trained technology journalist Wade Roush. Learn more at soonishpodcast.org. We're a proud member of the Hub & Spoke audio collective! See hubspokeaudio.org.

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The future is shaped by technology—but technology is shaped by us. Every month, Soonish brings you stories showing how the choices we make together forge the technological world of tomorrow. From MIT-trained technology journalist Wade Roush. Learn more at soonishpodcast.org. We're a proud member of the Hub & Spoke audio collective! See hubspokeaudio.org.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
67
2
0
1
1

Thought provoking and easy to listen to

By KGListens - Jun 18 2019
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I love the topics In Soonish. Science in a format that makes it accessible to everyone.

Insightful and well-done

By Tyrrell McAllister - Oct 12 2018
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Every episode of this thought-provoking podcast has been very much worth my time.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
67
2
0
1
1

Thought provoking and easy to listen to

By KGListens - Jun 18 2019
Read more
I love the topics In Soonish. Science in a format that makes it accessible to everyone.

Insightful and well-done

By Tyrrell McAllister - Oct 12 2018
Read more
Every episode of this thought-provoking podcast has been very much worth my time.
Cover image of Soonish

Soonish

Latest release on Nov 14, 2019

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 2 days ago

Rank #1: Hacking Time

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Episode 1.08: Why do "productivity" tools like email, to-do lists, and calendars make so many of us feel miserable and overburdened? Why hasn't anyone come up with a better way for us to manage our diverse commitments and our chronic information overload? This episode of Soonish looks at our personal futures and the tools we use to manage them. We talk with folks who are pursuing new technologies for keeping our lives organized. We look at the kludge-y but often brilliant productivity solutions people have hacked together for themselves. And we ask whether, in some way, we’re all missing the real point. Maybe in the rush to be productive, we’ve forgotten how to prioritize the things that truly make us happy. Music in this episode is by Graham Gordon Ramsay and Lee Rosevere. For more information about all the people and ideas in this episode, go to https://www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes/2017/5/11/108-hacking-time To become a supporter of Soonish, please visit http://www.patreon.com/soonish

May 11 2017

33mins

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Rank #2: The Future Is Clear

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Episode 2.07: What's ubiquitous but invisible, versatile yet temperamental, goopy when it's hot yet brittle when it's cold, as old as civilization yet as new as the screen of your smartphone? The answer is glass. This week on Soonish, we ask what glass really is, where it comes from, who's using it in interesting ways today, and how it will fit into our world in the future. We visit the world capital of glass—Corning, New York, home to both Corning, Inc., and the remarkable Corning Museum of Glass—and we spend time with master glassblower Josh Simpson and the directors of the glass labs at MIT and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In their stories, glass emerges as an adaptable and promising material that still isn't fully understood, but continues to present artists and engineers with new surprises.

The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. All additional music in this episode by Titlecard Music of Boston. For more information see https://www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes/2018/2/17/205-the-future-is-clear

Feb 17 2018

35mins

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Rank #3: A Future Without Facebook

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Every technology has its growing pains, but Facebook, at age 15, has matured into a never-ending disaster. Here at Soonish, I'm fed up, and I'm closing my accounts. In this episode, you’ll hear how I reached this point, and how other Facebook users are coming to grips with the chronic problems at the social network. You might just come away with some ideas about what to do to limit Facebook’s power over your own life!

The first signs that something was seriously wrong at Facebook surfaced in—well, when?

  • Was it 2014, when the company acknowledged it had experimented on users by altering the content of the news feed to see how it would affect their moods?
  • Was it 2015, when misinformation about alleged Muslim attacks on Buddhists in Myanmar spread on Facebook, leading to anti-Muslim riots?
  • Was it 2017, when evidence began to emerge that Russian hackers had influenced the US presidential election by promoting divisive content designed to mobilize Trump voters and demotivate Clinton voters in swing states?
  • Was it 2018, when the world learned that Facebook had allowed the British political data firm Cambridge Analytica to acquire Facebook data on 87 million users in the U.S.?
  • Was it last week, when a white-nationalist gunman in New Zealand live-streamed his terror attack on Facebook, and hundreds of thousands of copies of the video ricocheted around the network for hours?

No matter when you start the clock, we’ve now had plenty of time to perceive Facebook’s failures in all their depth and breadth. And we’ve been able to pinpoint some of the root causes—including a fundamental disregard for user privacy and a fixation on a business model that surveils users and manipulates the content of the news feed to foment outrage and maximize opportunities for targeted advertising.

Some Facebook users, like me, have decided that enough is enough. Many others are staying, but unhappily. Should you keep using Facebook, but more advisedly? Cut way back? Walk away? All of these are valid strategies that will send a message to Facebook and make your own life happier. Doing nothing probably won’t. This episode is designed to help listeners make a more conscious choice.

Thanks to all of of this episode's featured guests: Tova Perlmutter, Rudi Seitz, Kip Clark, Tamar Avishai, Peter Fairley, Nick Andersen, Mark Hurst, Ashira Morris, Victor McElheny, and Deborah in Minneapolis.

For more background and resources, including a full episode transcript, check out the episode page at the Soonish website.

CHAPTER GUIDE

0:07 Cold open (audio montage)
1:27 Soonish theme and introduction
1:51 An unwise choice at Ford
4:06 The Ford Pinto of the Internet
7:53 Meet our special advisory panel
9:44 Facebook does have its uses
13:48 A community designed to encourage dependency
15:14 Constant surveillance
20:00 Waiting for more data
23:55 Leaving is painful
26:14 Ex-Facebookers who never looked back
29:53 Exit strategies
32:03 Conscious unfriending
33:52 The reducetarian approach
35:40 We don't have to wait for Facebook to fix itself
36:47 Sensing intrusion
39:35 The opposite of Facebook
40:12 End credits and announcements

The Soonish opening theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. All additional music is by Titlecard Music and Sound.

Soonish is a proud founding member of Hub & Spoke, a Boston-based collective of smart, idea-driven nonfiction podcasts. Learn more at hubspokeaudio.org.

If you like the show, please rate and review Soonish on Apple Podcasts / iTunes! The more ratings we get, the more people will find the show. See https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/soonish/id1185234753?mt=2

You can also support the show with a per-episode donation at patreon.com/soonish. Listener support makes all the difference!

We need your ideas to make the show better! Please take a few minutes to fill out our listener survey at soonishpodcast.org/survey.

Give us a shout on Twitter and sign up for our email newsletter, Signals from Soonish.

Special thanks to Kip Clark, Joseph Fridman, and Mark Pelofsky for reviewing drafts of this episode.

Mar 22 2019

44mins

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Rank #4: The Art that Launched a Thousand Rockets

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The adjective “visionary” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s literally true of Chesley Bonestell and Arthur Radebaugh, the two illustrators featured in this week’s episode. Both men used their fertile visual imaginations and their artistic skills to create engaging, influential depictions of human space exploration and our high-tech future. Their work was seen by millions of magazine and newspaper readers throughout the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s—boosting public support for space exploration and industrial R&D at a critical time for the U.S. economy. Now, both men are the subjects of documentary films.

Chesley Bonestell was born in San Francisco in 1888, survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, and went on to become an accomplished and high-paid architect, artist, Hollywood matte painter, and illustrator of book and magazine articles. From the mid-1940s onward, he specialized in painting stunning views of space vehicles and views other otherworldly locations like the Moon, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. He lived to see humans set foot on the Moon in the 1960s and visit the gas giants via robotic probes in the 1980s, finally passing away in 1986.

Arthur Radebaugh lived from 1906 to 1974 and built on his early career as an illustrator for Detroit-based advertising agencies to become a “funny-pages futurist,” producing the syndicated Sunday comic strip Closer Than We Think for the Chicago Tribune—New York News Syndicate from 1958 to 1963.

In this episode we meet Douglas M. Stewart Jr. and the other producers of Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With the Future, a 2019 documentary about Bonestell, as well as Brett Ryan Bonowicz, maker of Closer Than We Think, a 2018 documentary about Radebaugh. And we hear from veteran science journalist Victor McElheny, who lived through (and documented) the era when Bonestell and Radebaugh were creating their visions of space and the future.

The episode argues that futurist art, done well, can become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. It can teach consumer and citizens what to want and expect—whether that’s moon bases or self-driving cars or talking refrigerators—and it can inspire at least few people to become the scientists and engineers who actually go out and build those things.

For more background and resources, including images by Chesley Bonestell and Arthur Radebaugh and a full transcript of the episode, check out the full show notes at soonishpodcast.org.

Chapter Guide

0:21 Under the Golden Gate Bridge
1:18 A Glimpse Into the Future
3:56 How Come I Never Heard of Chesley Bonestell?
4:37 Meet Arthur Radebaugh
6:45 Round Table Interview with Douglas Stewart, Christopher Darryn, and Kristina Hays
9:43 Mars as Seen from Deimos
11:50 Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future Trailer
13:30 Destination Moon
15:13 Working with Wernher von Braun
17:03 Commercial Instinct
18:03 Romantic Rockets
20:20 Midroll Announcement: Support Soonish on Patreon
22:09 Brett Ryan Bonowicz
25:12 Influencing the Jetsons
26:21 Extremely Fast and Incredibly Closer Than We Think
29:54 Imagining Catastrophe
31:21 Conclusion: Competing Styles of Visual Futurism
32:45 End Credits and Announcements

The Soonish opening theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. All additional music is by Titlecard Music and Sound.

Soonish is a proud founding member of Hub & Spoke, a Boston-based collective of smart, idea-driven nonfiction podcasts. Learn more at hubspokeaudio.org.

If you like the show, please rate and review Soonish on Apple Podcasts / iTunes! The more ratings we get, the more people will find the show. See https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/soonish/id1185234753?mt=2

You can also support the show with a per-episode donation at Patreon. For a limited time, contributors who sign up at the $5-per-episode level or above get a Soonish coffee mug! But act now, because after June 8, 2019, the coffee mug will only be available at the $10-per-episode level or above. Listener contributions are the rocket fuel that makes this ship go, so get on board now!

We need your ideas to make the show better. Please take a few minutes to fill out our listener survey at soonishpodcast.org/survey.

Give us a shout on Twitter at @soonishpodcast and sign up for our email newsletter, Signals from Soonish.

May 14 2019

34mins

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Rank #5: A Tale Of Two Bridges

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Episode 1.09: When Boston’s elegant Longfellow Bridge opened in 1907, it was innovative example of classical European bridge architecture adapted for a busy American city. But over the next century, officials allowed the bridge to rust to the point of near-collapse. And recently, a futuristic new cable-stay bridge, the Zakim Bridge, was built across the Charles River just a mile downstream, displacing the Longfellow as an icon of the city and proving that Bostonians still have a taste for modernity. Now the Longfellow Bridge is being painstakingly restored and recreated, down to the last rivet. But for the price of fixing it, the state could have built at least two Zakim-scale bridges in its place. This week Soonish asks: Why go to all that trouble? When should we preserve the parts of our urban environments that connect us to the past? When should we boldly remodel our cities to support growth and innovation in the future? And how can we balance the two impulses? The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music by Tim Beek, timbeek.com. More information about this episode at www.soonishpodcast.org. To support Soonish, please go to patreon.com/soonish.

Jun 08 2017

36mins

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Rank #6: Monorails: Trains Of Tomorrow?

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Episode 1.02: Monorails first captured the public imagination as the "trains of the future" here in the U.S., thanks to projects like the Disneyland monorail (1959) and the Seattle World's Fair monorail (1962). But today, it seems that new monorail systems are being built everywhere except America. Monorails have key advantages over competing forms of mass transit, such as buses, subways, and light rail—so what happened to the prospects for the technology in the U.S.? For the answer, Soonish went straight to the president of the Monorail Society, a 7,000-strong group with members around the world. And we traveled to Seattle to talk to the people who built—and who still run—the Seattle Center Monorail, and who tried to get a much larger monorail project off the ground in the early 2000s. The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Grant Fikes.

Jan 25 2017

29mins

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Rank #7: Sci-Fi That Takes Science Seriously

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The golden era of “hard” science fiction that respects the rules of actual science lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s. In the 1970s, demand for hard sci-fi fell off a cliff, with a big push from the first Star Wars movie in 1977. But for the last year and a half, Soonish host Wade Roush has been part of a project to revive this underappreciated genre. This week’s episode is all about Twelve Tomorrows, the new short-story anthology Wade edited for MIT Technology Review and the MIT Press. The episode outlines the book’s mission and origin story. And four of the eleven authors who contributed stories to the book weight in on the differences between hard science fiction, fantasy, and other sci-fi sub-genres.

Soonish listeners can get 30% off the book's list price by calling 1-800-405-1619 or writing to orders@triliteral.org and using the discount code SOONISH30. And now through July 31, listeners who become new Soonish patrons at Patreon at the $5 per episode level or above will get a free autographed copy of the book! To sign up go to patreon.com/soonish.

The full video of the Twelve Tomorrows launch event, including readings by Elizabeth Bear, Lisa Huang, and Ken Liu is at https://www.soonishpodcast.org/extras/2018/6/21/video-meet-three-of-the-twelve-tomorrows-authors

Music in this episode by Graham Gordon Ramsay and Titlecard Music. Full episode details: https://www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes/2018/6/18/208-sci-fi-that-takes-science-seriously

Jun 18 2018

39mins

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Rank #8: Mapping the Future with Tim O'Reilly

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Episode 2.03: For a sane, humane, and skeptical perspective on what’s happening to Silicon Valley and why our high-tech economy seems to be failing us, there’s no better source than Tim O’Reilly, master trend spotter and founder of computer book publisher O’Reilly Media. Soonish’s in-depth conversation with the admired entrepreneur, investor, and author focuses on his new book “WTF: What’s The Future and Why It’s Up to Us,” published October 10. In the interview—and in the book—O’Reilly shares the mental maps he uses to make sense of emerging technologies and their impact. And he argues that if we want to avoid the worst side effects of AI and automation and learn the lessons of networked platforms like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, and Lyft, we’ll have to rewrite the hidden algorithms behind government, business, and the financial system. The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music by Javier Suarez, aka Jahzzar, www.betterwithmusic.com For more information about this episode, go to www.soonishpodcast.org. To support the show, please sign up as a regular donor at www.patreon.com/soonish.

Oct 24 2017

47mins

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Rank #9: Astropreneurs

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Episode 1.07: More than 500 people have flown in space since Yuri Gagarin’s historic ride in 1961—and virtually every one of them has been a military officer or government employee. But now that’s changing. Jeff Bezos’s rocket company Blue Origin aims to begin commercial passenger flights to space in 2018, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX has announced plans to send two private citizens around the moon, also in 2018. Meanwhile, here on Earth, there’s a boom in space-related innovation and investment, not just at big aerospace companies but at dozens of smaller startups. This week on Soonish, we look at the new era of space entrepreneurship (#newspace for short) and ask who’s founding space startups, what progress these companies are making in areas like microsatellites and propulsion, and how new technology is giving enthusiasts around the world more ways to get involved in space exploration. The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music this week by Podington Bear. For more information on this episode, visit https://www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes/2017/4/20/107-astropreneurs

Apr 20 2017

32mins

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Rank #10: Origin Story

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Episode 1.06: After in-depth episodes about movies, monorails, museums, manufacturing, and meat, the show goes meta and I talk about Soonish itself. Hear how Carl Sagan and extraterrestrials helped to kickstart my science journalism career, how the Challenger disaster woke me up to technology’s double-edged nature, and how the New York World’s Fair of 1939 got me thinking about the world of the future. Also, I explain how you can now support Soonish directly through Patreon. The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music in this episode by Podington Bear. For more details on this episode visit www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes/2017/3/29/106-origin-story.

Mar 29 2017

19mins

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