I find stuff to feature here in many places – from friends’ recommendations to material I happen across. But there are certain websites and podcasts I come back to time and again. I’ve included some of these below, although there are many others. Please let me know of your recommendations.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard. Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what.
Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything
Here’s how Radiotopia (of which ToE is a member) describes the show: “Theory of Everything plunges listeners into a whirl of journalism, fiction, art, interviews, and the occasional exploding pipe dream. Host Benjamen Walker connects the dots in a hyper-connected world, featuring conversations with philosophers, friends, and the occasional too-good-to-be-real guest.”
Blank On Blank
Blank on Blank is a production of Quoted Studios and features lost interviews by notable people, accompanied on their website by animations.
Freakonomics began when journalist and author Stephen Dubner went to Chicago to write about award-winning economist Steven D. Levitt for The New York Times Magazine. Their podcast mostly focuses on behavioural economics and is a consistent delight.
The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are Peabody Award winning independent producers. Their non-profit production company is dedicated to creating public media and educational programs that work to build community through storytelling.
I love this show. “Maybe you’ve laid awake imagining how it could have been, how it might yet be, but the moment to act was never right. Well, the moment is here and the podcast making it happen is Heavyweight.”
Home of the Brave
There’s nothing quite like Home of the Brave, and that’s probably because there’s no one quite like its Peabody Award winning producer Scott Carrier. Described as “new stories from the archives, the road, and the end of the world.”
Invisibilia explores “the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by NPR’s Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, who helped create Radiolab and This American Life.” And it’s great.
The Life Scientific
Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them and asking what their discoveries might do for us all.
I knew I wanted in on this show as soon I learnt the awesome Starlee Kine was behind it. It’s a podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries. “The only rule is that the answer to your mystery can’t be found by just Googling.” Update: the series is currently on hiatus after Starlee and Gimlet Media parted ways, Follow Starlee on Twitter for her next move.
On The Media
It’s a weekly, one-hour NPR radio show devoted to media criticism and analysis. One of the best shows around for seeing right through power and bias.
Open Source with Christopher Lydon
They say: “We like to call Radio Open Source ‘an American conversation with global attitude.’ It’s the first podcast and now a weekly show on WBUR. Drawing on our roots here in Boston, we’ll remind you why the city has been the capital of ideas in America since the heyday of Emerson and Thoreau in the 1840s.”
“Imagine you could call up a friend and say, “Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.” Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.”
Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, is a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries. If I could take only one podcast to a desert island it would be Radiolab. I love this show.
They say: “Radio Diaries tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Since 1996, we’ve been giving people tape recorders and working with them to report on their own lives and histories. We’ve collaborated with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, bra saleswomen and lighthouse keepers….and along the way we’ve helped pioneer a new form of citizen journalism.”
It’s a show about the internet! Which sounds terrible, but it’s good because it’s hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, formerly of TLDR. It features stories about how people shape the internet, and the internet shapes people.
“The mission of The Center for Investigative Reporting is to engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling in order to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy.”
Hosted by Malcolm Gladwell, “Revisionist History goes back and reinterprets something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.
One of the few radio shows that just let’s the interviewees speak. I love it. “On Rumble Strip you’ll hear from artists and criminals, taxidermists and soccer moms, lawyers and waitresses. Erica Heilman invites herself into Vermonters’ homes to find out what they know, what they hate, who they love, what they’re afraid of, and what makes them more like you than you’d realized. It’s surprising conversation that sounds like Vermont, and takes its time.”
It became a podcasting phenomenon. You don’t need me to tell you what this is. Hosted by Sarah Koenig.
A curated list of BBC Radio 4’s “quirky, curious and seriously interesting documentaries.” By definition this is a slightly random selection, but I’ve found some gems here.
A great podcast about startups, started by Alex Blumberg.
This is a great project. “Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with over 100,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.” Check out founder Dave Isay’s TED Talk.
This American Life
The incomparable This American Life is “a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 2.1 million listeners. It is produced by Chicago Public Media, distributed by Public Radio International, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards.”
WireTap with Jonathan Goldstein
Sadly this podcast has now ended, however the archive is still available to explore, and explore it you should. “WireTap invites you to eavesdrop on a mix of funny, thoughtful and unpredictable stories and conversations. Whether it’s a tale about what it’s like to date Lois Lane after she’s broken up with Superman, or an interview with a man who works as a ketchup sommelier, you never quite know where WireTap will take you.” Jonathan now does Heavyweight, which is even better.
The 6th Floor
The 6th Floor is where “editors, designers, writers, photo editors and researchers at the New York Times Magazine share ideas, arguments, curiosities and links.” They produce some good stuff.
Aeon is a digital magazine of “ideas and culture, publishing an original essay every weekday.”
Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, who has also written for a host of other places too like Wired UK, The New York Times, Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, and The Atlantic, among others. Maria goes deep on subjects fast.
A blog about advertising by Martin Weigel. Always good.
Edited by my good friend Hicham Yezza, Ceasefire is “an independent political and cultural quarterly publication founded in 2002, concerned with producing high-quality journalism, reviews and analysis. We cover a wide range of topics – from Arthouse to Žižek.”
Co.Create say they “explore creativity in the converging worlds of branding, entertainment, and tech.”
Jeff Atwood writes about computers. He says,”computers are fascinating machines, but they’re mostly a reflection of the people using them. In the art of software development, studying code isn’t enough; you have to study the people behind the software, too.” I agree.
“I do research in behavioral economics and try to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.”
Daring Fireball is the web site of John Gruber, an Apple enthusiast and writer. Daring Fireball hosts Gruber’s opinions in the form of a blog. It’s a good blog, too.
A great source of information about design and architecture projects from around the world.
Digiday is about digital media, marketing and advertising, and aims to cover the industry I work in with an expertise, depth and tone you won’t find anywhere else. They mostly succeed.
Fuel/Friends Music Blog
A music blog by Heather Browne of Colorado, originally by way of California. Heather has excellent taste in music.
Galley Beggar Press
A independent publisher dedicated to releasing top quality fiction. One of their first books, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, won a whole bunch of awards, including the Goldsmith Prize. I grew up with one of the founders, Sam Jordison. He also writes for the Guardian.
It’s the Review section of the Guardian newspaper. When I find the time to read it I enjoy it.
Hello Thor Records
Hello Thor is independent record label based in the UK with a passion for vinyl and DIY gigs, exhibitions and happenings. My good buddy Nick Lawford is a founder.
The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive, a non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. This project deserves your support.
kottke.org is, apparently, one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web. It’s primarily written by Jason Kottke but has also been helmed by a number of guest editors. I like it – they consistently post interesting stuff, like, every day.
London Review of Books
Since 1979, the London Review of Books say they have “stood up for the tradition of the literary and intellectual essay in English.” That’s a good thing to stand up for.
Longform.org posts great new and classic non-fiction articles, curated from across the web. A great place to lose a few hours.
Longreads, founded in 2009, is dedicated to helping people find and share the best storytelling on the web, across both nonfiction and fiction. Another great place to lose a few hours.
Marginal Revolution is a blog focused on economics run by economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, both of whom teach at George Mason University. I love how they reveal the numbers behind the stories, and show whether or not they add up.
Founding developer of WordPress, the Open Source software used by over 18% of the web, including this site. Good on him.
A blog by John Naughton. Academic, author, Observer columnist.
MIT Technology Review
The mission of MIT Technology Review is to “identify important new technologies—deciphering their practical impact and revealing how they will change our lives.” They also publish some interesting stuff.
Media and tech analysis by Frédéric Filloux and Jean-Louis Gassée.
More Intelligent Life
More Intelligent Life is a lifestyle and culture magazine from The Economist. I prefer this to the actual Economist.
New York Magazine
New York Magazine say they “cover, analyze, comment on, and define the news, culture, entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, and personalities that drive New York City.” They also publish some pretty good articles.
The New York Review of Books
The New York Review say they “began during the New York publishing strike of 1963, when its founding editors, Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein, and their friends, decided to create a new kind of magazine—one in which the most interesting and qualified minds of our time would discuss current books and issues in depth.” Lovely stuff.
The New Yorker
It’s the “online version of the weekly magazine, with current articles, cartoons, blogs, audio, video, slide shows, an archive of articles and abstracts back to 1925.” It’s the go-to place for great journalism.
Everything written, drawn, and coded by Matthew Inman. It’s insightful and, more importantly, hilarious.
America’s Finest News Source™.
The Oxford American is a national magazine dedicated to “featuring the best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South.”
Pacific Standard “provides a unique perspective and insight into the political and economic forces defining the world today.”
The Paris Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers. Makes you feel good that you read it.
Passive Aggressive Notes
Amusing photographs of real life vaguely threatening signs, notes and messages.
An often infuriating guide to independent music.
ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Which is a good thing.
Retronaut is “a photographic time machine. It is a digital collection of tens of thousands of pictures from across the past, all with one thing in common – each one has the power to warp your sense of time.” You can get lost here.
This blog is written by Simon Veksner, the ‘Head of Ideas’ at Naked Communications in Sydney.
Signal vs. Noise
A blog about usability and good design, with a technology focus, by 37signals.
Ben Thompson writes about technology from a strategic and historical perspective. He’s very good.
The life and thoughts of Khoi Vin, a graphic designer in New York City.
“Historical treasures, oddities, and delights from the Slate team” about sums it up.
When Google Reader died, this took its place.
A brilliant iOS app for podcasts. Unlike Apple’s own app, this one allows podcast producers to include a link to the relevant webpage on their own site to learn more about each episode. There are other nice features, but this one is the most useful to me.
Perfect for saving articles and other online content for later, and much better than emailing links to yourself.
Who needs YouTube when there’s Vimeo.