This Is Not A Drill (False Alarm! part i)
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 meets the Emperor with no clothes! Read our Medium page for details on the entire episode Illustration by Jordan Crane and new series logo by Val Dorito.
3 Apr 2018
Guided By Voices (r)
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.
12 Nov 2019
Stages on Life’s Way
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 this week’s installment**********
13 Jun 2014
Red, White, Blue & Orange
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********
14 May 2013
Most Popular Podcasts
Man Without a Country (2 of 3)
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.
8 Aug 2014
Man Without a Country (3 of 3)
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.
8 Aug 2014
1984 (the year not the book)
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**********
4 Apr 2014
When You’re Lonely, Life is Very Long
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 also the title of a photo-book by Danish photographer Tina Enghoff. She tells us about the pictures she took of the apartments after the dead were removed. Some of these bodies went undiscovered for months. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
3 Mar 2014
Fake Nudes (False Alarm! part ii)
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!
17 Apr 2018
The things we do for money
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
31 Oct 2015
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.
25 Oct 2016
New York After Rent (I of III)
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 jaunt through Hell Square, and legendary performance artist Penny Arcade shows us around “the big cupcake”. *********Click on the image for the whole story about this week’s installment**********
8 Apr 2015
The Clouds (part 3 of 3)
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********
6 May 2013
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.
12 Dec 2016
Making it Happen
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.
4 Nov 2014
Backspace to the Future (the dislike club part I)
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 twitter and he accidentally a brand new webpage community. This is the true origin story of his tilde.club. Yours truly also started a new thing it is called dislike.club. We also check in with Librarian and community manager Jessamyn West for advice on how to start an online community that doesn’t suck. The Dislike Club is a story-in-progress, it will play out on the podcast over the next few weeks and then culminate December 21 on Radiotonic, from ABC RN’s Creative Audio Unit.
14 Nov 2014
Enchanting By Numbers (2015 version)
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, the woman who wrote the first computer program (or as James puts it – Algorithm) in 1843.
9 Oct 2015
Enchanting By Numbers
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 keep us from walking through neighborhoods perceived to have loud people hanging around outside. Christian Sandvig studies algorithms which is hard to do, most companies like Facebook and Google don’t make their algorithms public. In a recent study he 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. When they learned the truth, it was like a moment out of the Matrix. But none of the participants remained angry for long. Six months later they mostly reported satisfaction with the algorithms that determine what the can and can’t see. Sandvig finds this problematic, because our needs and desires often don’t match with the needs and desires of the companies who build the algorithms. “Ada’s Algorithm” is the title of James Essinger’s new book. It tells the remarkable story about Ada Lovelace the woman who wrote the first computer program (or as James puts it – Algorithm) in 1843. He believes Ada’s insights came from her “poetical” scientific brain. Suw Charman-Anderson, the founder of Ada Lovelace day, tells us more about this remarkable woman.
6 Oct 2014
Influencers (part II of II)
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.
28 Jun 2017