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Public Books 101
2 minutes | 11 days ago
Introducing Season 2: The Novel Now
In the age of Twitter, TikTok, and streaming TV, why are people still turning to the novel, a centuries-old cultural technology? Season 2 of Public Books 101 is hosted by Nicholas Dames, a cultural critic, professor of English, and editor in chief of Public Books. Nick joins novelists, scholars, and medical doctors to explore what novels are still providing for readers—ethically, imaginatively, and politically—in the 21st century. What are some of the most notable novels published in the 21st century, and how do they reimagine what novels do? You can find the books we’ll be discussing at Harvard Book Store, an independent shop in Cambridge, MA, or at your local public library.
54 minutes | 7 months ago
Silicon Valley and Beyond (with Meredith Broussard & Margaret O’Mara)
How did Silicon Valley become such a historically and globally significant hub of technological innovation? What—and who—gets left out of the stories people tell about Silicon Valley? What are the limits of technology, and how can we create more equitable technologies for the future? Guests: Meredith Broussard is a data journalist, an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University, and author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World (MIT Press, 2018). Margaret O’Mara is the Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington, a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, and author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (Penguin Press, 2019), among other works. We have created a reading list and a set of discussion questions to accompany each episode of the podcast. You can view that resource here. Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and further reading on the topic.
55 minutes | 7 months ago
Cultures Online (with Lauren Michele Jackson & Richard Jean So)
What new cultural forms are developing in the vast universe of the internet? How can observers and scholars keep up with the accelerated pace of human creativity online? And how do racial aesthetics, money, and power play out in internet cultures? Guests: Lauren Michele Jackson teaches in the departments of English and African American studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation (Beacon, 2019) and has published widely on digital media and popular culture. Richard Jean So is an assistant professor of English and cultural analytics at McGill University. He is the author of Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (Columbia University Press, forthcoming) and Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network (Columbia University Press, 2016). Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and a list of further reading on the topic, curated by our guests.
46 minutes | 7 months ago
Societies Online: Privacy & Power (with Alice E. Marwick)
In this two-part inquiry into what the internet is doing to societies, two leading scholars who study online media take a critical look at both the affordances and dangers of large platforms like Facebook, Google, and Reddit. In this episode, Alice Marwick breaks down what actually happens when companies collect and sell the data that users feed them, why it often feels as though smartphones are listening to us (even though they probably aren’t), and what we need to know about how privacy violations impact marginalized communities. Guest: Alice E. Marwick is an associate professor of communication and the principle researcher at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life, which she cofounded, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale University Press, 2013). Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and a list of further reading on the topic, curated by our guests.
40 minutes | 7 months ago
Societies Online: Facebook & Democracy (with Siva Vaidhyanathan)
In this two-part inquiry into what the internet is doing to societies, two leading scholars who study online media take a critical look at both the affordances and dangers of large platforms like Facebook, Google, and Reddit. In this episode, Siva Vaidhyanathan breaks down the global power of Facebook: what it provides in a positive sense, but also how exactly it makes money off of us, and how its design and business model pose a serious threat to democracy. Siva shares some ideas about what would need to change for Facebook to serve its users—and societies—better. Guest: Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia and author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018) and The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry) (University of California Press, 2012). Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and a list of further reading on the topic, curated by our guests.
65 minutes | 7 months ago
Individuals Online (with Amanda Hess & Jenny Odell)
What exactly are we doing when we’re spending time online? Who profits from our presence there? And how has being on the internet changed the experience of being human? Two high-profile writers who cover internet culture meditate on the experience of being human in the internet age. Social media has presented new phenomena—such as “doom-scrolling” on Twitter or visiting pop-up Instagram “experiences”—for human minds and spirits to contend with. We examine how the attention economy monetizes our time spent online, and Amanda and Jenny consider ways of using the internet that offer spiritual sustenance rather than dread. Guests: Amanda Hess (critic-at-large, New York Times) and Jenny Odell (artist and author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy). Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and a list of further reading on the topic, curated by our guests.
61 minutes | 8 months ago
Origins of the Internet (with Charlton McIlwain and Fred Turner)
Where did the internet come from? Who gets left out of dominant stories about its origins? And what can history teach us about how to make the internet better? In our first episode, two leading scholars of internet history—Charlton McIlwain of NYU and Fred Turner of Stanford—delve into the stories you might not have heard about where the technology came from. Yes, DARPA and IBM played formative roles, but what about back-to-the-land hippies in the 1960s, or a sprawling network of African American engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts who helped develop and popularize the web? And how did major decisions about the early internet’s design and usage lead to some of its problems today? Visit www.publicbooks.org/podcast for more information about our guests, the texts and scholars mentioned in this episode, and a list of further reading on the topic, curated by our guests.
2 minutes | 8 months ago
Welcome to Public Books 101
We are thrilled to announce the release of Public Books’s new podcast, Public Books 101, which turns a scholarly eye to a world worth studying. In each miniseries, world-class scholars and writers join our host to examine a single topic from many angles, opening a window into the conversations that experts are having with one another about the urgent issues and problems facing us today. Season 1 takes on the internet: the vast digital environment that has changed the way we live, work, and form communities. The technology that allows us to conduct more of our lives online brings with it unprecedented data-mining, surveillance, and other concerns. Where did the internet come from? And how might we work to fix its flaws? In this five-part series, we’ll cover how the internet was built, whose interests it was built to serve, and what it is doing to individuals, societies, and cultures.
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