STS Podcasts Playlist

STS Podcasts Playlist

 

STS Podcasts Playlist

Blogpost and artwork by Viktoriya Feshak

Today, many STS scholars challenge current methods of storytelling practices and knowledge dissemination in general for being limited in describing things that are complex, messy, diffuse, vague or emotional… Yet, the challenge is not only to represent complex phenomena, but to include voices that should be heard, to appeal to the broader community, to deliver knowledge that could raise reflexivity towards decisions we make.

Seeking for the new ways of storytelling, academics are engaging now with theatre, visual vignettes, art, documentaries, podcasts, just to name a few. And the latter now is attracting a particular interest among academia and the general public. On one hand, it is comparably easy to create a podcast, since one does not have to be affiliated, peer-reviewed, approved, funded: for the beginning it is sufficient to have some inspiration, expertise (or interest!) and a recording device together with an editing program. On the other hand, it is accessible and appealing to a broad audience; its design is engaging, its format incorporates well into the everyday, its story is easy and interesting to follow.

Podcasts blur boundaries between lay people and science, since everybody now can integrate her story to the episode and everybody can hear it, no matter where she is situated. You just need an access and… well, you need some recommendations*! So, let me take charge and introduce some STS podcasts to you that appealed to me and deserve more attention. Some of the creators do not even realize that they could be related to this field of science, they simply recorded an incredible story that we (STS-related people) can call a contribution to Science and Technology Studies.

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Pockets


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

Let’s start with one of my favorites – the podcast that brought to light an invisible part of our clothes, or to be more explicit – a very invisible part of women’s clothes – pockets. Have you ever noticed that there are less pockets or less “working” pockets in  garments made for females compared to those made for males? Does it have a reason and further implication on the way women are expected to function in a society? Wait, does this piece of textile have politics? As the author points out: “when we talk about pockets, we are talking about who has access to the tools they need. Who can walk through the world comfortably and securely?“

Containers


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

This 8-part documentary renders visible a hidden and complex world of global trade and the artifact that to some extend made globalization happen – a container. Containers are those boxes that most of our goods are shipping in throughout the world. Some call them an “embodiment of global capitalism”, attribute them to the changes in economic geography, or associate them with the exploitation of cheap labor across the globe. The narrator, by immersing a listener into this world of sailors, ships, ports, warehouses, and containers, introduces a very unique perspective on supply chain and logistics: he makes this world very personal to listener, he makes this industry and economy more human and understandable.

How to Think About Science, Pt 1


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

This series of podcasts could be considered a personal meeting with 31 prominent academics, reflecting on their work and science. Science becomes a subject of scrutiny, concepts and theories are challenged one more time, certainty is undermined. This collection could be valuable for both: an audience who is only discovering some of the great minds of STS, anthropology, philosophy and related fields, and for the scientific community, willing to hear not only an elaboration on already known concepts, but personal opinions and ambiguity about them.

Snap Judgement


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

Here you can listen to weekly released episodes on topics that are sometimes so controversial, heavy, emotional or insightful that they live long with you. These tales are called “snap judgement”, but there would be strings attached, believe me. One of those is “I sing the Body Electric”. It is a story about a man who tries to “cheat death” with biohacking experiments, believing that advanced technologies could give him a hope that others gain from religion (eternity?). However, by being successful with experiments, he is going to lose perhaps the most important entities in his life.

Note to Self


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

“Note to Self” – or a “tech show about being human”, in their words. This is a great source of very creative STS podcasts on how technology is changing our daily life. Here, you can find topics ranging from ‘selfies as metadata’, ‘kids and screens’ to the ‘me too’ movement in China, and how Silicon Valley will control your eyeballs.

Racoon Resistence


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

This is an incredible story of Toronto city and their special relationship with racoons. The narrative evolves around the need to design a green bin, so that racoons cannot spread waste all over the city – so-called “racoon resistant” container. Designers involve urban racoon specialist that knows racoon behavior very well: “they are very persistent and can work for hours and hours”, she says. How will it affect the racoon-proof bin’s success? And… are these containers actually killing the animals? This invention opens up both: the discussion on responsible co-existence with these critters and discussion on some of the abilities, they have, that nobody expected them to have. This audio is supplemented with videos that you will likely find it revealing and funny, so be prepared to spend more time on this podcast than you expect. (I was glued to these videos for an hour!). https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/raccoon-resistance/

Farms Race


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

You might’ve heard already about “Freakonomics Radio Archive”, where they tell you “things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do)”.  By now, they have collected about 400 episodes on these ‘things’! One of them is “How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War”. It sounds both promising and captivating. Perhaps, many of us have heard (and some know very well) about the discrepancy between the Soviet and U.S. image of (super)market. The idea of the mighty American store is not only about affordability and quality, but freedom of choice, which was lacking and very desired in Soviet republics. Can we then consider it a weapon, which played a role in America’s (and the West’s) Cold War victory? But more importantly, what was really behind the very invention of supermarket? Why is the supermarket’s success still so controversial? http://freakonomics.com/podcast/farms-race/

Digital Sociology


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

In this series of podcasts sociologist Christopher Till is interviewing various researchers talking about the impact of digital technologies on society and culture.  In one of the episodes, they reflect on Facebook etiquette and how nostalgia structures perceptions of the future. In another, the story revolves around the current music industry, with its “crowdsourced virtual popstar”, iPods changing the way in which we experience public space and many other. It’s an extensive collection of podcasts and it is tricky to pick the best one – so my suggestion is to play any, because they all are insightful!

Burden of Proof


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

Sometimes I wish this episode was heard by everyone, at least those dealing with controversy and uncertainty in their research or activism. This is a very personal, emotional and tragic story, yet it unfolds a broader picture of evidence and its role in our society. “What level of proof about harmfulness of some activity do we need before we act?”, asks the narrator, and you won’t guess which activity, that many of us truly enjoy, he addresses. After exploring limitations of proof through a very dramatic story he summarizes: “Sometimes proof is just another word for letting people suffer.”

Telling Responsible Stories – Telling Stories Responsibly


(Artwork by Viktoriya Feshak, 2019)

Finally, last semester, together with Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller at Munich Centre for Technology in Society, my group released their self-created podcasts as a result of a seminar “Telling Responsible Stories – Telling Stories Responsibly”. Since my interest in podcast stems from this very seminar, I am personally very eager to introduce which topics we found important to speak about and what we did in the end. Here you can find out more about homeopathic treatments in Germany, where it was established; why we study something we can never know the answer to; or how our olive branch is connected to singing birds dying, etc.

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Similarly, the creation of this blogpost would not be possible without people that have already discovered and recommended them in different ways. Some podcasts I got acquainted with in the seminar “Telling Responsible Stories – Telling Stories Responsibly. STS, Technoscience and Narrative Culture”, designed by Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller in Munich Centre for Technology in Society at TUM; I want to give thanks to the blogpost “Telling stories differently: A selection of STS (related) podcasts” by the STS department at the University of Vienna; other recommendation came from my former groupmate, podcast-enthusiast Ivana Pauli Kurečić. All in all, thanks to the many people who helped gather these podcasts and made them visible, I am designing this STS playlist that so that you can save it to your bookmarks! ;)

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Viktoriya Feshak is an ETHOS Lab intern from October 1 – December 31 2019. She is an M.A. student in Responsibility in Science, Engineering and Technology (RESET), offered by Munich Centre for Technology in Society (MCTS) at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. MCTS is an Integrative Research Center that is dedicated to understanding and reflexively shaping the multiple interactions between science, technology and society. Being part of MCTS, the master program RESET proposes a transdisciplinary, practice-oriented education that addresses technical and social aspects of responsibility in today’s highly technologized societies. Viktoriya is on her third term of the master program, where students are required to complete an internship, either in company or an STS-related institution, in order to reflect on their experience from an STS perspective, particularly with regard to questions of responsibility.