I’m always surprised when I ask people whether they’ve heard such-and-such an episode of This American Life only to find out that they’ve never even heard of what was, until fairly recently, the most popular podcast in the US and many other countries.
This American Life is amazing, informative, and compelling and, in particular I would recommend episode 536, The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra, (“An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions … [the] NY Federal Reserve …”) and Act One, “The Hounds of Blairsville” in episode 522, Tarred and Feathered, which concerns the social networking service Topix.
I must digress and point out that as great as This American Life is, its iOS app is very disappointing. It’s buggy and has a less than obvious interface but as it financially supports one of the best radio shows ever created we can (sort of) overlook the app’s weaknesses.
Anyway, Gimlet Media’s Reply All is a lot likeThis American Life but focussed on the online world (I think they should have called it “This Internet Life”) and the first episode, “An App Sends A Stranger To Say ‘I Love You’” concerns an app called Somebody.
Created by an artist named Amanda July, Somebody allows you to send a message to anyone via a third party. This messenger volunteers to physically deliver the message with what amounts to stage directions as to how to do so. The end result could be thought of as performance art rather than simple messaging and the podcast digs not into the technology behind the app (which sounds flaky to say the least) but rather the more human aspects of intention.
Here’s the podcast (NSFW due to language use):
The second podcast (only two have been released so far) is “The Secret, Gruesome Internet For Doctors” which concerns an app that’s a lot like Instagram except doctors post pictures of … well, let’s just say that the squeamish might not want to know. Here ’tis:
You can also subscribe to Reply All via iTunes.
Finally, especially given the huge interest we all have in startups, you have to check out Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast which chronicles in intimate detail how Gimlet got started; it’s rare to hear such a well-told inside story.
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