Listening Chronicles #10
A series documenting podcasts I've been listening to, and those I would recommend.
It feels like I’ve unlocked a new level now that I’ve reached double digits with the Listening Chronicles!
This is the first time, I am sharing this edition of Listening Chronicles via the newsletter. If you are new/haven’t heard about it here’s what you need to know -
I find a lot of joy in listening to podcasts. I tend to listen to a variety of them on a daily basis and I keep recommending podcasts regularly to my friends. I thought it would also be great if I make note of the podcasts I am listening to, and share the recommendations publicly. Basically want others to enjoy podcasts as much as I do.
You can find the older editions of the newsletter on the Curiousect website.
I am completely open to any suggestions you have for this series.
Podcasts This Week
I used to be an avid gamer. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing games on different platforms. While I don’t play them as much anymore (I hope to), I still enjoy keeping track of the gaming industry. When I heard about Gameplay, I knew I had to listen.
In some of my earlier editions, I've spoken about 99% Invisble - a podcast that explores the hidden design in everyday life. It's brilliantly made and the stories make you view your surroundings in a different light. Gameplay's host James Parkinson - said this podcast is like the 99% Invisble for gaming. He's right.
3 episodes have come out till now. These episodes all deal with a fascinating story or trend in gaming. The first episode itself should be good enough to reel you in. It's about the gaming controllers. Controllers are integral to how you experience games. They’re an extension of yourself, while playing. Have you ever wondered how the Up, Down, Right and Left buttons became the norm in gaming? I sure as hell didn't. That’s what their first episode delves into.
It's a story of luck, effort and a lot of simple innovation. You get a sense of what the podcast is going to be like after listening to this episode.
The 2nd episode takes it in a different direction. You learn about how members of the trans community found solace in video games. RPGs, Open World games etc. allowed members of this community to experience the gender they weren't assigned at birth, without all the burdens one would have in real life. I honestly never considered video games that way. It is immersive, but didn’t think of them as a life altering experience.
There's still a lot of work to be done in the gaming industry when it comes to representation, but I think this episode speaks to the kind of developments that we might see in characters, stories and different virtual worlds.
The 3rd episode is about something many of us are actually annoyed by while we play games on our mobile phones - microtransactions.
One of the biggest things that the launch of iPhone did, was overhaul the gaming industry's standard business metrics. We saw different models of games being developed - Freemium and Premium games.
This episode is great to understand how we got to this stage of constant reliance on micro transactions? Is a Freemium model the future of gaming ? Where does the controversy around the Apple App store fit into this?
All of these questions are answered in the 3rd episode.
Honestly, you should give this a shot and follow the series. I am sure you’ll learn something new.
2. How I Built This | Jimmy Wales and ReCaptcha's Luis von Ahn
Wikipedia has been one of my all time favorite websites. As a kid it helped me in my school projects and even now, I continue to use it to understand the world better. Wikipedia also made popular other niche wikis become popular (think popular TV Shows, anime, manga etc.)
One of the questions I began to think about was why the founder didn't make money out of it. How were thousands of collaborators working together to maintain this amazing source of human knowledge? Why was Wikipedia designed the way it was?
Guy Raz's interview with Jimmy Wales answers all of these questions.
While listening, do consider reading this longform WIRED article as well.
Luis von Ahn
Almost everyday, you would’ve come across ReCaptcha. That was developed by a mathematician. Automated bots creating spam email accounts was considered a huge problem during the dot com era. Luis von Ahn solved this by building CAPTCHA - Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It not only changed the way we authenticate, but also helped scan and digitise millions of books.
Luis Von Ahn's story doesn't just end here, using the process behind the working of ReCaptcha he and his team also built Duo Lingo - one of the world's biggest language learning platforms. Getting people to learn a language is hard, and DuoLingo was one of the first websites/applications to help people do it on their own. There are still some issues with DuoLingo, but their goal is to help people
This episode was brilliant too. It makes me view that boring process at the beginning of logging into every website with new light. And now, I am hoping Duo Lingo does incredibly well in the future so that I can start learning some Japanese.
You can find these episodes here.
3. The Khooni Podcast | Marichjhapi Massacre
This episode of the Khooni Podcast is about an event (or series of events), that we don't learn about in history classes. I swear, I hadn't heard about this massacre till they released the episode. It is another example of blatant violence by the state apparatus.
The episode is incredibly well researched. Sneha and Aditi cover the socio-political history prior to this massacre i.e. the period around partition of India, the events leading upto the Marichjhapi massacre and what the aftermath was. The history is sad and horrifying. However, there are still some parts of the story where you’ll be surprised and inspired by the resilience of the Dalit community in Marichjhapi.
I would urge you to listen to this episode. It'll leave you thinking for hours by the end of it.
Cast From the Past
The Ways of Hearing | Showcase by Radiotopia
It's appropriate that on the 10th edition, I suggest a podcast series that quite literally deals with listening.
Showcase is a podcast by the Radiotopia network, wherein they promise to host different Mini-Series by other creators.
The Ways of Hearing is a 6 episode series where Damon Krukowski explores the different changes in in our human experience of listening as we've shifted from the analog age to the digital age. He tackles 6 different themes related to the way we experience sound - Time, Space, Love, Money, Power and Noise.
For example, in the episode about Space - we are learning more about how the proliferation of headphones has created mini private spaces in a public sphere or in Money, Damon offers a deep dive into how streaming has upended the lives of many artists around the world.
Like I said, this series is about listening. It's changed the way I think about audio or any sound as a matter of fact. I sometimes also wonder, if I am eliminating silences from my life by constantly listening to music with headphones on or if by constantly texting and not making calls, I am forgetting the sounds of my friends. It's an incredible series. If there is a podcast you should listen in this list, it's this one. I assure you, you'll view the world around you differently.
That's it for this edition !
I do hope you liked these recommendations. Share them with your friends and do write to me about the podcasts you've been listening to and what you think about them.
P.S. I know I've promised a diverse range of content beyond podcasting but please bear with me while I get used to the concept of sending a newsletter.