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The New Abnormal
59 minutes | 12 days ago
Ian Williams "Why democracies need to push-back against China's digital totalitarian state"
In this episode of 'The New Abnormal' I interview the renowned journalist and author Ian Williams, who was Foreign Correspondent for Channel 4 News, based in Russia and the Asia, before joining NBC News as Asia Correspondent, when he was based in Bangkok and Beijing. As well as reporting from China over the last 25 years, he has also covered conflicts in the Balkans, Middle East and Ukraine. (He won an Emmy and BAFTA awards for his discovery and reporting on the Serb detention camps during the war in Bosnia.) His latest book "Every breath you take - China's new tyranny" illustrates the world's first digital totalitarian state, where a system of hitherto unimaginable control threatens to make the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four a terrifying reality. In our discussion, he therefore illuminates the extraordinary rise of the Chinese surveillance state, the war against truth and liberal values, and the vital need to make artificial intelligence democratically accountable. Ian also describes the implications for the rest of the world regarding the urgent challenges facing the West, in what has become a technological Cold War...
63 minutes | 19 days ago
John Seabrook 'Why hit songs offer guilty pleasure - and how to build an authentic identity'
This episode of 'The New Abnormal' features Brooklyn-based John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory / Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing—The Marketing of Culture / Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace / Flash of Genius, and Other True Stories of Invention. A staff writer at The New Yorker since the 90's, he explores the intersection between creativity and commerce in the fields of technology, design, and music. In the interview we discusses his views on all of the above along with his other recent articles for the New Yorker. Therefore, his viewpoints take us on a fascinating path as we discuss issues including artificial intelligence & smart composition, counter-surveillance strategies & fashion innovation, a robopop perspective on the record label of the future, social hierarchies in a commercialised culture, social fragmentation in the post-digital / post-Covid age, and more...
46 minutes | a month ago
Elodie Marteau 'Connecting the dots - trend analysis in 2021'
In this episode of The New Abnormal, I interview Elodie Marteau, a Paris-based foresight strategist & cultural analyst, who helps businesses identify cultural opportunities to future-proof their brand strategy. Her viewpoints have been published by a wide range of organisations including the Fashion Network, LS:N Global, Trend Atelier, Canvas8 and the Global Scanning Review c/o the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, etc. In the interview, we discuss her thoughts on a wide range of issues relating to some of the dominant topics and emerging trends in 2021. These include the environmental crisis, the future city, personal identity, and brand ethics. She also outlines her route into, and experiences within, the world of trend research; having worked for some of the leading agencies and consultancies in the sector. Finally, she highlights her views on 'hope / community / resilience' and her plans for the road ahead.
52 minutes | 2 months ago
Andrew Copson "What's it all for and how can I be happy?" (A guide to Humanism).
In this episode of 'The New Abnormal' I interview Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, the national charity working towards a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail. He's also President of Humanists International, the global umbrella organisation for humanist and other non-religious organisations, building the international humanist network and representing humanism at the UN and other international institutions. Andrew has represented the humanist movement extensively on television including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky, as well as on programmes such a s Newsnight and The Daily Politics. He's also appeared on BBC radio programmes such as the Today programme, The World at One, The Last Word, and Beyond Belief. In this episode, Andrew defines and explains humanism re: issues such as the need to test beliefs / reason, evidence & scientific method / fulfillment, growth & creativity / the search for truth / ethics / justice & fairness / building a better world. I found it deeply interesting to hear his viewpoints, and hope you do too.
48 minutes | 3 months ago
Sara Wheeler 'The minute curiosity of the travel writer - tales from the Arctic to the Antarctic'
In this episode of 'The New Abnormal' I interview Sara Wheeler, a prize-winning non-fiction writer noted for her accounts of the polar regions. Her books include the international bestseller Terra Incognita, which tells the story of a seven-month journey in Antarctica. The Daily Telegraph reviewer wrote of it, ‘I do not think there will ever be a better book written about the Antarctic.’ In it, she mentioned sleeping in the captain's bunk in Scott's Hut. Whilst in Antarctica she read 'The Worst Journey in the World', an account of the Terra Nova Expedition, and she later wrote a biography of its author Apsley Cherry-Garrard. For years she travelled frequently to Russia, Alaska, Greenland, Canada, and North Norway to write her book The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle (winner of the Banff Adventure Travel Prize). She later wrote 'O My America!: Second Acts in a New World' which records the lives of women who travelled to America in the first half of the 19th Century, and the authors's travels in pursuit of them. Sara’s latest book, Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age, came out just prior to the pandemic.Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Contributing Editor of The Literary Review, a Trustee of The London Library and former chair of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She contributes to a wide range of publications in the UK and US and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio. She's the most extraordinary person and I really enjoyed hearing her fascinating stories and perspectives. I hope you enjoy listening to her as much as I did.
56 minutes | 3 months ago
Rob Hopkins 'From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Rob Hopkins, cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network, and author of numerous books including 'The Transition Handbook, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, and most recently, From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want'. He presents the podcast series 'From What If to What Next' which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how to make them a reality. He was voted one of the Independent's top 100 environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer's list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals. Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4, in the French film phenomenon 'Demain' and its sequel 'Apres Demain', and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three TEDx events. In 2020 he was a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Sustainable Behaviour Change. (And in his - presumably minimal - spare time, he sometimes makes lino prints.) So, in this dynamic interview, we discuss his views on all of the above, and along the way, issues such as Buddhism, punk, permaculture, the climate & ecological emergency, the decline of play vs the rise of screens, the great reskilling, citizen assemblies, positive change, speculative fiction, and The Fall...
49 minutes | 3 months ago
Sophy Roberts 'The Lost Pianos of Siberia'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Sophy Roberts, journalist and author of 'The Lost Pianos of Siberia'. She focuses on travel stories in remote parts of the world, with a special interest in literature, history, culture and conversation. The ex-Travel Editor of The Economist and a Special Correspondent for Conde Nast Traveller, she shoots articles as well as writing them, including cover features for the Financial Times. Her first non-fiction book, The Lost Pianos of Siberia was named a Times, Sunday Times and Independent ‘Book of the Year’, a ‘Best Travel Book of 2020’ by Smithsonian Magazine, The Spectator, and i paper, and recently shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of 2021. As she says of the book, which is currently being translated into seven languages, "Siberia's expansive history is traditionally one of exiles, bitter cold and suffering. Yet there is another tale to tell..." (The Wall St Journal commented "these pages sing like a symphony".) Sophy also contributes to radio, podcast and panel events, including the BBC, The Economist, Times Radio, Tortoise and The Royal Geographical Society. So, we discuss all of the above, along with issues inc the business of tourism vs the serendipity of travel, music as a conduit of hope, the solace of culture, travel as an act of empathy, and the need to 'keep looking outwards' in the age of Covid. And, somewhat obviously, I have to say that I found her stories about the people, landscape and history of Siberia to be absolutely fascinating. And, of course, I hope you do too.
52 minutes | 3 months ago
Lucy von Sturmer 'Challenging the status quo to create positive impact'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal podcast, I interview the dynamic Lucy von Sturmer, founder of thought leadership agency The Humblebrag and Co-Initiator of global network Creatives for Climate. The Humblebrag works with some of Europe’s best agencies, brands, artists and sustainable fashion initiatives to use the power of ideas, opinions and creativity to challenge the status quo and create impact. (Lucy's mission is to support leaders to take a stand on social, cultural and environmental issues and through her work, to help companies and brands build their reputation.) Creatives for Climate is a global network and grassroots initiative to coordinate a collective response from the creative industries to mobilise action on the climate emergency. Lucy cut her communications-teeth in the world of journalism, television and PR, before working for NGOs, which was followed by a move to advertising, before she founded the Humblebrag. She's also built a reputation as a public speaker and has been featured in titles inc The Huffington Post, AdWeek, The Drum, Sustainable Brands and Mumbrella. So, in this episode, we discuss all of the above, including her specific viewpoints on brand activism, disruption, regenerative solutions, intersectionality and social inclusion; along with her take on 'hope community and resilience' in 2021...
54 minutes | 3 months ago
Jennifer Mercieca 'Demagogue for President - the rhetorical genius of Trump'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview the author Dr Jennifer Mercieca, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University who is an historian of American political rhetoric. She writes about American political discourse, especially as it relates to citizenship, democracy, and the presidency, and has published three books: 'Founding Fictions', 'The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency', and 'Demagogue for President: the Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump'. Jennifer has written for The Conversation, USA Today, Washington Post, and other major media outlets. She's been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Vice, ABC Radio, Slate, and many other outlets throughout the US and Worldwide - and has been called “probably the leading authority on Trump’s rhetoric”. Her research combines history, political theory / philosophy / science. Jennifer's latest research is on how ubiquitous propaganda has ruined our public sphere and what we can do about it. So, as you can imagine, this interview features a fascinating discussion about her views, including the use of language as a weapon, how Trump took advantage of distrust, polarisation and frustration, and why the unifying campaign strategies he employed were anything but simple...
55 minutes | 4 months ago
Graham Black 'Collaboration as the creative driving force in 2021'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Graham Black, Owner/Creative Director at BureauxBlack Design, and a Lecturer at Falmouth University; whose particular areas of expertise are in the arts, culture, sport, literature and current affairs. His early agency career focused on the music industry, designing record sleeves and advertising campaigns for clients inc Virgin, EMI and Sony; and in the years that followed he's art directed editorial publications for some of the biggest and most respected brands in publishing, inc The FT, The Economist, and The Observer. His design approach is to employ powerful, sophisticated and striking typography, photography and illustration. After many years of commissioning he's built up a contact book that inc many of the finest reportage, portrait, fashion and travel photographers in the world, as well as the most innovative and well known illustrators. So...in this episode we discuss some of the amazing photographers and illustrators with whom he's worked (resulting in covers featuring everyone from Bowie to Mandela to Orwell), and his viewpoints on leading-edge culture, NextGen magazines and the creative process. And, of course, his take on why 'hope, community and resilience' are the way forward...
57 minutes | 4 months ago
Stephen Colegrave 'Radical Thinking, Independent Journalism & Catalytic Entertainment'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Stephen Colegrave, the Executive Editor & Co-Founded of the Byline Times, Byline TV and Byline Festival. He's also a film producer and author of three books. The Byline Times is a fearless independent newspaper, featuring a daily national news and investigation site that's all about "what the papers don't print". The Byline Festival is the world's only festival for independent journalism and free speech, where you can "dance, discuss, laugh and change the world". In this episode, we cover a lot of ground regarding 'Facts / Argument / Reportage / Culture'. So, please take a listen and hear all about topics inc the Climate Emergency, Democracy under Attack, Independent Journalism, Propaganda & Disinformation...and how to put on a festival where (pre-C19 and hopefully after it) you could go to a discussion about corporate surveillance, hear a leading-edge comic, get drunk with a feminist punk band, learn about creative activism, then dance to a legendary DJ. (All in amazing surroundings and not necessarily in that order).
50 minutes | 4 months ago
Steve Vranakis 'Leading-edge creativity and reinventing the agency model'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Steve Vranakis. He's an award winning creative who worked on the launch of the iPhone, with Amazon, NASA (Space Lab), The United Nations, UNICEF and headed up the Creative Lab at Google in EMEA for nearly a decade. Appointed as the first ever Chief Creative Officer for Greece, he developed a new country narrative as a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. Some of his past projects inc a machine learning musical instrument, an installation giving youth a voice at the UN, the launch of a physical coding platform that teaches kids to code, and bringing dinosaurs back to life in VR at the Natural History Museums in London and Berlin. In 2015 Steve went to the island of Lesvos to build a mobile information site to help Syrian refugees fleeing civil war keep safe. (This was scaled across dozens of NGO’s going on to help thousands of refugees.) His work has been recognised by the D&AD, Cannes Lions, ADC, One Show's, Campaign Big, Webbys, Lovies, FWA, BIMA and Clio's. Steve's has been featured in WIRED, The NY Times, Telegraph, WSJ, Creative Review, Huffington Post, FT, Design Week, Adage and he’s written for Adweek, Marketing, Campaign and conducted interviews with the BBC, CNN, CNBC, Lürzer's Archive and Shots. While president of D&AD, he made it his mission to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into the creative industries. So, as you can imagine, we cover a lot of ground in this interview as we discuss his extraordinary career, how he pictures the 'Agency of the Future' alongside his views on 'hope, community and resilience'...
56 minutes | 5 months ago
Charlie Waterhouse 'Change or Die: Rebel for Life'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Charlie Waterhouse, Creative Director of This Ain't Rock 'n' Roll (with an ethos based on identity + activism for culture + causes) whose clients include those such as Amnesty International, English Heritage, Médecins Sans Frontières, National Gallery, and UNICEF. He's also co-founder of the Art Group and Media & Messaging team at Extinction Rebellion ('the most successful start-up in history'), and is a Fellow of the RSA. His day job is split between This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll (who are currently working with the Unitarians and legal activists Foxglove) and community organisation The Brixton Project. After hours he’s also a director of the Brixton Pound, and is part of the team planning '81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance' a celebration of 1981’s Brixton Uprising. So we discuss all of the above, starting with XR's international rebellion against the criminal inaction on the climate and ecological crisis . Charlie also outlines his viewpoints on issues such as the future of cities, work he's doing with David Graeber’s widow, the modern crisis of spirituality, and how to build a utopian business model. Finally, we debate an activist manifesto based around a belief that 'when hope dies, action begins'.
44 minutes | 5 months ago
Richard Watson "Why the only certainty about the future is that it's uncertain"
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal I interview Richard Watson, Futurist-in-Residence at Judge Business School, Cambridge University. He helps organisations to think, especially about emerging opportunities and risks. Particular interests include emerging tech, AI, robotics, education, energy, and water. Richard has written extensively on societal trends and the impact of technology, and has given over 300 talks to various organisations throughout the world. He's worked extensively on scenario planning projects having been introduced to the discipline by one of the founders of GBN. The author of five books about various aspects of the future (inc the scenario process), he's blogged on innovation for Fast Company and written for Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies and McKinsey & Co. Finally, he's also a visiting lecturer at both Imperial College Business School and London Business School, co-founder of 'Thinking Allowed' and one of the people behind Sci-Fi nights at the Royal College Of Art. So, we discuss all of the above alongside issues such as a potential corona chronology, leadership, the merits of studying politics, philosophy & economics, and the entrepreneurial mind. Finally, Richard outlines a strategic approach based on 'scenario worlds or a preferred future'...
51 minutes | 5 months ago
Amy Daroukakis 'Using signals and experiences to develop innovative concepts'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview the cultural strategist Amy Daroukakis, who "inspires teams, keep brands culturally relevant and re-imagines products, communication and design". She's worked across a wide range of sectors, including Retail (Target), Luxury (LVMH), Social (Facebook), Automotive (Hertz), Insurtech (Coya), FMCG (Danone), Hospitality (Park Hyatt), Tourism (NYC GO), Food and Beverage (AB InBev), Entertainment (HBO), Electronics (Bang & Olufsen), and Financial (Amex). We discuss how she started by studying cultural anthropology c/o 'Semester at Sea' (visiting 10 countries in 100 days). She's now travelled to over sixty countries, lived in six and worked across six continents inc North America, the EMEA and APAC. Amy explains her approach to 'travelling differently' while on research projects, why signals are more important than pathways, her viewpoints on 'where next' regarding the impact of C19, building an innovative culture, and why getting out of your own filter-bubble is so important. Finally she talks about some of the dynamic projects she's working on re: 2021.
53 minutes | 6 months ago
Kathleen Higgins 'From Daoism to Nietzsche...and why deception has become a modern way of life'
In this episode of #TheNew Abnormal, I interview Kathleen Higgins, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, at Austin. Kathleen's main areas of research are continental philosophy, philosophy of the emotions, and aesthetics. She has published a number of books: Nietzsche's “Zarathustra” , The Music of Our Lives, A Short History of Philosophy, A Passion for Wisdom , What Nietzsche Really Said , and The Music between Us: Is Music a Universal Language? She has edited or co-edited several other books on such topics as German Idealism, aesthetics, ethics, erotic love, non-Western philosophy, and the philosophy of Robert C. Solomon. In this episode, we discuss her thinking on topics including post-truth, autonomy, the Noble Lie, filter-bubbles and echo chambers, public opinion and media narratives, heuristics vs critical thinking; alongside the lessons of today that we can learn from philosophers ranging from Rousseau to Kant to Schopenhaur to Derrida. And, of course, Nietzsche.
41 minutes | 6 months ago
Felix De Laet aka Lost Frequencies 'From DJing at student parties to worldwide success'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Felix De Laet aka Lost Frequencies, who would normally be found manning a DJ booth somewhere in Paris, Tokyo, Berlin or New York. The global pandemic put a stop to that - but he hasn't sat around watching TV all year. Instead, he's recently performed a spectacular show on the roof of the Royal Palace in Brussels, and has remixed music for the likes of Major Lazor, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding , and LSD Labyrinth / Diplo / Sia. His first smash hit went to No1 in 18 countries, while he's played a huge amount of gigs at festivals across the world; including Coachella, Tomorrowland, and Lollapalooza, closing down EDC Vegas in spectacular solo style. He also did a massive arena run with fellow chart-dominators The Chainsmokers. So...in this episode, we discuss how Felix got into the music industry, key events along the way, his artistic inspirations, current producer activity (along with an overview of his label 'Found Frequencies') and future tour plans, which hopefully include an epic New Year's Eve gig in Hong Kong. Oh, and why he's just launched his own gin brand. Finally, I have to point out that, in 2020, he's now amassed over 3.5 billion streams. (Yes, billion.) As you do.
50 minutes | 6 months ago
Cailin O'Connor 'The war against truth and the social dynamics of alternative facts'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Cailin O'Connor, who is an associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California. She's also the co-author of 'The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread' (published by Yale University Press). In our interview, we discuss Cailin's most recent writings on the subject of 'why we trust lies' re: the most effective misinformation starting with seeds of truth. In doing so, she explains the crucial importance of transparency and accountability, alongside her viewpoints on issues such as confirmation bias i.e. why what you believe depends on who you know; and how demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread - despite negative consequences for the people holding them. In an era where arguments rage about issues ranging from climate change (as the polar ice caps melt and forest fires burn) to the wearing of face masks (as over a million people die of Covid-19), Cailin illuminates the social forces that explain the manipulation of 'false belief' and propaganda, and why we must understand both how that process works and trust the evidence, in order to fight back against misinformation.
54 minutes | 6 months ago
Mark Vernon 'Everything in philosophy is a footnote to Plato'. (And quite a lot is a footnote to Kant).
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal podcast, I interview Mark Vernon, a psychodynamic psychotherapist, writer and broadcaster, who has a keen interest in spirituality and the inner life. He has a PhD in ancient philosophy, as well as degrees in physics and theology. His books (which have appeared in translation around the world) cover subjects from friendship and belief, to wellbeing and love, and his latest one is 'A Secret History of Christianity'. Mark contributes to and has presented a number of radio programmes such as 'The Moral Maze' and 'In Our Time'. He teaches at The Idler Academy and also leads workshops and gives talks re: 'Ancient Greek Philosophy and How to See Spiritually'. So, as you can no doubt imagine, I found it fascinating to talk with Mark about his thinking on subjects ranging from Plato to Freud to Blake to Augustine; and on issues ranging from friendship to religion to generational angst to Pandora's Box. Along the way, we discuss the Socratic Question, his viewpoints on the Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics and Cynics, all things ego-related, why it's hard for science to question itself and how C19 has shown the limits of statistics, along with the parables of Jesus and Buddha. And, of course, I couldn't possibly miss the chance of asking Mark what the ancient Greeks might have thought about a certain Donald Trump...
53 minutes | 6 months ago
Alex Durussel-Baker 'Design-thinking, design-sprints, and community innovation'
In this episode of #TheNewAbnormal, I interview Alex Durussel-Baker. The founder of CreativeMornings/Edinburgh, she's also a certified Design Sprint coach, an award-winning UX designer, produces awareness campaign @diabetesbydesign and is a coach at Tribe Women. With a background in startups and agency design, she founded Korero Studio - a design collective that brings together “plug-and-play” talent to deliver Design Sprints, an innovation methodology to help solve tricky business problems and bring ideas to life in just five days. (Alex specialises in delivering design thinking and strategic workshops for businesses and individuals in the early phases of their product or service.) Therefore, in this episode we discuss the dynamic CreativeMornings (a movement begun in NYC 'believing in the power of communities' that, every month, sees people gather in over 200 cities across nearly 70 countries), along with her viewpoints on how to run truly catalytic workshops. Alex also discusses the dynamic @diabetesbydesign which raises awareness and dispels misconceptions surrounding T1D - informing, inspiring and igniting new conversations around this often misunderstood disease.
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