Art De Vivre (I of II)

May 26, 2015

The voice of the ToE episode announcer revealed! (her name is Mathilde) and she joins our host for this two part series about the intersection between France and China and wine. The story of the red obsession of Wealthy Chinese has been told many times, but what is going to happen when China’s elusive emerging middle class gets wine fever? Can wine transmit cultural values? Can it transcend consumerism? In this installment Benjamen and Mathilde traverse France to discover this vino nouvelle vague.

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The Dislike Club (finale/ABC version)

May 12, 2015

In this program (which originally aired on the ABC last December) your host makes his final attempt to build the ultimate anti-social-media-social-platform. Things continue to decline: the phone in the hand becomes the phone on a stick in the hand. And we meet a controversial blogger who overnight becomes one of the internet’s most disliked people. Plus, of course the real dislike club. Thanks to our sponsor

New York After Rent (part 3 of 3)

April 30, 2015

Our series concludes with an attempt to examine the suburbanized commodified inner cityscape of New York. Author and activist Sarah Schulman tells us about the Gentrified Mind, plus we hear from one of the first Airbnbers of New York. PLUS a sneak preview of a new rock musical everyone will soon be talking about.

New York After Rent (part 2 of 3)

April 22, 2015

From Avenue B to Bushwick: Kathy Kirkpatrick tells us about the final days of her Life Cafe in the East Village and essayist Tim Kreider tells us about his exile in Bushwick. Plus your host tries to make sense of the first time he got a glimpse of the new New York at a party in late September 2008.

New York After Rent (part 1 of 3)

April 8, 2015

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”.

Dark Karma

March 17, 2015

“G.S.” was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Bozeman, Montana many years ago. The story he told me about how bad karma brought him from Devon, England to the C.U.T. bomb shelters in Gardiner, Montana still haunts me. A few years ago we reconnected and he recounted the whole story for me. Also Astronomer Chris Impey explains how Dark Energy will end it all.

Radio WIFM

March 2, 2015

Decades before the first shot was fired in the American revolution, a band of runaway slaves known as the Maroons, living in the mountains in Colonial Jamaica took on the British Empire and won. I’ve long been obsessed with the Maroons. So last summer I jumped at the opportunity to visit their compound in Charlestown for the annual celebration of their 1739 victory. I learned that the Maroons hope to play a leading role as Jamaica moves down the path of Marijuana decriminalization and legalization – but some of the folks I met claim the Maroons are still listening to Radio What’s Innit Fo Me?

An Illumination

January 26, 2015

Cédric Villani won the prestigious Fields Medal for his work in 2010. He wrote a book about his experience called Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure. It is a book about where ideas come from. There is something spider like about Villani, and I say that not just because of the pins he is famous for always wearing. He knows how to catch ideas, and he wants to teach us how as well. We also talk with Maria Popova about another great Science book: The art of Scientific Investigation. I found this book thanks to the idea catching web that Maria Popova built:

Logical Fantasies (the dislike club V)

December 22, 2014

n the penultimate episode of our series, Kathy Sierra tells us how one tweak could fix everything and ToE’s Chris tells us the secret origin of Facebook. PLUS #marksbros (as in Zuckerberg) #marxhegel (as in Groucho)

***ALERT*** the DISLIKE CLUB Finale was commissioned by RADIOTONIC from the ABC’s Creative Audio Unit. Look for the Dec 21st episode called the Dislike Club – that is part VI (the finale).

Wishful Thinking (the dislike club part IV)

December 9, 2014

In 2007 writer, programmer, and horse trainer Kathy Sierra quit the internet because of misogynist hate trolling. She stayed off the social web for 7 years but last year she came back to see what Twitter was like. She tells us why she only lasted a few weeks and her theory about why so many women are targets online. Plus Danielle Keats Citron explains how we could use the law to drain the cesspool.

If you dislike like, then you will… (the dislike club part III)

December 3, 2014

Our mini-series about the internet continues. This week Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman tells us about the internet’s original Dislike Club. Anonymous. Biella has spent the last eight years hanging out with Anons both on the IRC and in IRL. Her new book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the many faces of Anonymous” is the definitive book on the topic, nothing else comes close. Biella also gets me to watch V for Vendetta, something I have refused to do out of my fanboy respect for writer Alan Moore (who refused to watch it or put his name on the movie). I wish I could un-see it already. Also: Commodify your dislike!

Paying For It (the dislike club part II)

November 25, 2014

Our mini-series about the internet continues. This week we take a close look at the fundamental business model of the web – advertising. In 1993 your host was a founding member of an international monkey wrench gang that fought billboards in outer space. He recently ran into one of his old comrades in Midtown-South (Manhattan’s tech district) and discovered that his side actually lost the war. Ethan Zuckerman, the man who invented the pop up ad, admits that we must rethink the fundamentals of the web, and activist, writer, and filmmaker Astra Taylor questions whether the internet actually benefits independent creators.

Backspace to the Future (the dislike club part I)

November 14, 2014

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 Yours truly also started a new thing it is called 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.

Making it Happen

November 4, 2014

We tour Bold Machines with Makerbot co-founder Bre Pettis to learn about the future of Maker culture. Plus we visit China to learn what the next generation of Chinese makers have planned for the future.

Radiotopia LIVE (preview of the

October 28, 2014

The theory of everything is a founding member of Radiotopia, the world’s best podcast network. And we are midway through our Kickstarter. We made our 250,000 goal in one week! But our work is not done. We want to change radio forever. We want to create more shows and a viable ecosystem so that we can all thrive. We need to make a ton of noise, so we can make headlines. To do this we need you: we need 20,000 of you to back Radiotopia. If you have already done this THANK YOU really it means so much. If you can get a family member or a friend to do the same (1 dollar is more than enough) now that would be amazing. Like I said we are not going to get to 20,000 without your help. And, the same folks who got me, and the same folks who have been sponsoring the podcast over the past few weeks – they have thrown down a 25k challenge. So if we get to 20,000 we get even more money. I have been dreaming of Radiotopia for ten years – I want more than anything for this to work. At our party I performed a preview of my upcoming series – the – it will begin in a few weeks. You will enjoy it and it will be weekly! Yes, WEEKLY!

Help Kickstart the future of Radiotopia (plus a visit from ToE’s Chris)

October 15, 2014

“[A] kind of Justice League for smart documentarians and sound artists.” –Bill McKibben

Enchanting by Numbers

October 6, 2014

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. 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 who was known as the Enchantress of numbers.

It will always be hard

September 16, 2014

Man Without a Country (2 of 3)

August 8, 2014

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.

Man Without a Country (3 of 3)

August 8, 2014

What happens when you curse your own country? In this version of the classic Americana tale your host is sentanced 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.

The American writer Edward Everett Hale first published his story The Man Without a Country in the pages of the Atlantic in December 1863. It is the story of an army lieutenant named Philip Nolan, who in his youth cursed America. The judge sentenced him to live out the rest of his life consigned to a US navy ship – never to set foot or eyes on his native land, and this sentence was carried out to the letter. In this version your host curses America and is sentenced to live out the rest of his days on a hot air balloon.

This is the definitive version of a story I have been working on for many years. It includes a historical examination of various versions of the tale that have been produced over the last hundred years as well as audio from a conversation I had with Howard Zinn in 2005, and the one and only Glynn Washington (host of the radio show Snap Judgement) shares his own story of growing up black in a Christian white-supremacist cult.