Road trip podcasts

I’m fresh off a much needed vacation. I road tripped down Highway 1 and I binged some seriously good podcasts.

My two favs:

Heaven’s Gate: A deep look into the lives and leaders of Heaven’s Gate, the cult that made international headlines in the late 90s when 39 members killed themselves to board a UFO in the heavens. This isn’t a salacious look – it’s an examination of the members, families affected, reasons for joining, lives of the leaders, and the cultural context surrounding the cult. What I really loved is the examination of how we other people. It’s easy to say, holy shit all those people were crazy, but like anything in life, it’s a lot more complicated than that. On top of that, the host, Glen Washington, shares his experience growing up in a doomsday religion.

At 10 episodes, it’s an ideal road trip podcast.

Bubble: I don’t normally listen to fiction podcasts but made an exception for this one after reading about it on the Atlantic’s Top 50 Podcasts of 2018. They had me with the show description:

“The rules of the show are this: You either live a protected life somewhere like Fairhaven—a so-called deliberate community reminiscent of Portland, Oregon, that is encased in a literal bubble—or in the monster-infested brush beyond. The story follows mismatched roommates living in a dodgy part of town. Morgan kills monsters; Annie then sells the creatures’ blood on the black market to get people high.”

Click to download, please. It didn’t disappoint. The show is so damn funny, ridiculous, and spot on with it’s cultural critique that I’m recommending it to everyone. With 8 episodes, it’ll transport you to familiar-yet-not-quite world, keeping you distracted from traffic or any of the bored bits on a road trip.

Learning how to learn

The shelf life of your college degree is getting shorter and shorter.


David Blake, founder of Degreed on the podcast episode, Speaking the language of skills

Spend any time in future of work or higher education circles, and you’ll notice how often people throw around the term lifelong learning. It’s incredibly in fashion to tell people how they’ll need to become lifelong learners. Beyond that though aren’t a lot of resources on how people should make this shift.

Degreed is out to change that. This interview with the founder of Degreed is an inside look at the challenges and opportunities of cultivating life long learning among employees.

I really appreciated this podcast episode, especially where they talk about learning to learn and creating a learning environment in the workplace. Plus I learned about an entire new category of YouTube videos: bad corporate training.

If you spend any time in future of work circles or higher education, you’ll like this perspective.

All Americans should listen to this one.

I’m burning through a new series, Perception Gaps, a podcast that “explores different topics in which people’s perception, or what they think is true, doesn’t actually line up with reality.”

It’s absolutely fascinating. But the one that I wish everyone could listen to is The Other Side, a dive into the political divide in our country.

In the episode, I learned that what studies show we overestimate the amount of people who believe things on the other side and that we treat politics like a sporting event in the US (which ok, I knew that but cool to hear it validated). I also listened to a really good story about how two freshmen roommates found friendship, despite having their very different political beliefs.

It’s such a good episode. I hope it stops and make you think about your own assumptions and the stereotypes we give into.

Go share it with everyone you know, but especially everyone who thinks like you do.

This podcast about Magic the Gathering gave me all the feels

Never thought I’d write something like that. But this 99% Invisible episode on the storytelling and design that goes into making this epic card game (and fanbase) is absolutely fascinating. Magic the Gathering folks get a lot of shit for their fandom and obsession with fantasy worlds. This podcast takes you deeper into the game, covering strategy and the people whose day jobs involve building these worlds. It’s really well done.

Most people might skip this topic. But that’d be a mistake.

Give it a listen.

 

(def not how to play Magic)

Poetry and AI

 

Just outstanding. Joy Buolamwini, the founder of notflawless.ai, delivers a spoken word poem on the reality of bias in AI. This organization is a must follow resource for anyone working with AI with topics on the dangers of facial recognition technology and police use of facial recognition tech. Also includes links to books and talks on the subject.

Imagine if every emerging AI engineer read this resources on this site.

What makes you trust a chatbot?

Or better yet, should we trust chatbots?

Should we build relationships with AI bots?

Should our children?

Two recent podcasts explored issues of trust and relationships with chatbots and robots.

There’s.so.much.to.say.on.this. I’m writing up a storm elsewhere this week so I’m just parking them here for the curious. You should listen and then get your friends together for a podcast dinner to discuss it. Because it’s a wild topic sure to make for engaging conversation.

Science Friday – A Bot You Can Trust

Radiolab – More or Less Human

Now I really don’t want to go live on Mars

Justin Bieber Surprise GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

To be fair I’ve never wanted to travel to Mars. I’m perfectly happy with the options here on Earth. And after listening to the brilliant podcast mini-series, The Habitat, I really really really don’t want to go Mars. I’d never survive the trip.

I know this for sure now after listening to all six episodes of the The Habitat, a podcast that followed 6 NASA volunteers as they lived together in a Mars-like simulation. For one year this group lived on a volcanic surface in Hawaii, an environment picked to simulate the harsh terrain on Mars. They group isn’t allowed to go outside without suits. They live together in a small, confined environment with little private space. There are toilet issues. Personalities clash and nerves fray. Their spacesuits, the only way they can go outside on missions, are noisy and gross. The food is monotonous. There’s limited contact with the outside world. And it’s all done in the name of research.

The Habitat series is captivating storytelling. It will take you on a wild ride inside these peoples’ lives as they try to complete a full year inside the dome. Alongside their stories the Habitat also shares fascinating space history tidbits. It also raises plenty of questions about team work. It might leave you wondering how the eff anyone’s going to survive the trip to Mars with their sanity in tact.

Listen to it and then send it to your friend who insists they’d totally be down with a trip to Mars.

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