Language and stories are integral to our understanding of the world around us. However, the ways we share stories have expanded significantly over time. Fewer and fewer dedicated readers regularly turn to print copies of books, instead opting for a more convenient option, such as online audiobook and podcast services.
These new possibilities are not only limited to traditional fiction and non-fiction books. With the emergence of new streaming platforms for music, movies, live video, algorithms now offer the same convenience and wide array of options. Platforms such as these make household chores infinitely more interesting and engaging. Moreover, listeners need not feel overwhelmed by the substantial database of choices because increasingly effective algorithms offer personalized recommendations.
I’ve become particularly interested in this subject, and have discovered a whole host of podcast episodes discussing this very issue. For your convenience, I’ve compiled a list of seven items including one podcast each day, for a week of technology and culture oriented listening. If you are similarly interested in algorithms, I hope you will consider listening to some or all of these titles.
Monday: Music in the Algorithm Age (Innovation Uncovered)
This episode of Innovation Uncovered explores the potential of A.I. for creative endeavours, such as song-writing, as well as apps that create personally curated playlists that are based on physical movement.
Tuesday: 161. SWEET STREAMS AREN’T MADE OF THIS: what about the musicians? (Reasons to be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd)
In this episode, the hosts hear from several different musicians to better understand the experience of artists with streaming platforms such as Spotify. They also delve into the recent history of music streaming by discussing online services such as Napster.
Wednesday: How Has Netflix Changed Entertainment? (Crazy/Genius)
With this clearcut title, the intentions of this episode are clear: a deep-dive into the streaming platform, Netflix. Hosts compare the pros and cons of the immediate gratification that new social and regular media, and online shopping platforms provide.
Thursday: Did the algorithm make you watch Tiger King? (Land of the Giants)
This episode also discusses Netflix, the pros and cons, and the overarching effect this platform has on society. However, this episode also specifically analyzes the algorithm of Netflix: the ways in which thumbnails are manipulated, and how content is chosen for individual users.
Friday: #484: Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify — Habits, Systems and Mental Models for Top Performance (The Tim Ferriss Show)
While this episode doesn’t focus much attention on the Spotify algorithm, the interviewee delves further into Swedish culture, entrepreneurship, and the origins of the Spotify company. More generally, this podcast episode gives an excellent background for the business side of algorithm-based streaming services.
Saturday and Sunday: Two: Looking Down & Three: Mirror Image (Rabbit Hole)
You may have already binged this first season of Rabbit Hole, a documentary series run by the New York Times. However, if you haven’t, I would highly recommend listening to at least these two episodes. These episodes feature a deep dive into the algorithm of Youtube, based on the viewing behaviours of one individual.
Listen here (1)
Listen here (2)
Charlotte Taylor is a writer hoping to gain extra writing practice. She has written a number of short stories, one of which, Calm Before the Storm, won first prize in the 2019 Islands Short Fiction Contest. Her story, Tomorrow, was accepted for publication in the Ariadne Literary Journal run by the Independent Schools Association of BC. She has also written two plays, her first, Contrapasso, was performed at the North Island Regional Drama Festival and won an Award of Excellence for Playwriting and Directing. If you would like, you can read more of her work at: charlottetaylor.work.