About week 1648: about fake news, John Green and the podcast wars

Folks, I’ve decided to mess with the format this week. Hopefully it makes for better reading than the bulleted list I used before. I guess bullets are mostly useful when you’re a person of fewer words (so not me).

Also, the iPad Pro is back and fixed! Yay. Which makes me happy, and is maybe probably also the reason that these week notes are published on Sunday night, like before. So, here we go.

Hidden Brain

Every once in a while, there’s a special podcast episode that I feel like writing about. In this case, an episode of Hidden¬†Brain about the spreading of theories and ideas – and misinformation. Starting with the fact that it’s impossible for us to check every fact ourselves, we rely on the social spreading of information. The double-edges sword of relying on social interaction to spread information is fascinating. It helps spread both credible information and lies. In The Vegetable¬†Lamb, philosopher Cailin O’Connor talks about how people used to believe stories from travelers about a vegetable with a lamb growing inside it, but also about statistical models on the spreading of information in scientific communities. Really worth a listen.

Turtles…

This week I finished reading John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down. I sort of expected a quirky teenage detective story from the short description I read, but of course I should have known better. The Fault In Our Stars wasn’t just a love story, it was also a story about living with a disease. And with John Green’s opening up about his battle with anxiety in publications such as The New York Times in recent years, it’s actually not that big of a surprise that this novel deals with mental illness rather than just be that quirky detective story. It kind of starts like that, but then all that stuff fades to the background as inner turmoil of the main character becomes more and more prominent. I’ve got to say I’ve never really read a book like this before. When I was younger we had young adult novels dealing with drugs and alcohol, or bullying. But none of them were like this. If you want to truly dive into the mind of someone with compulsive thoughts, this is your chance. I am very impressed with this book.

Spotify starts the podcast wars

So the rumours turned out to be true, this week Spotify bought podcasting company Gimlet Media. And to top it all off, they also bought Anchor, an app that lets you podcast to the world right from your phone (I tried the app once, but never actually got round to publishing an episode). And so, the Podcast Wars have begun. Apple is now a big player in the podcasting world, allowing anyone and their grandma to publish a podcast. And while companies like Audible, Stitcher and others have dabbled into premium exclusive podcasts, the podcasting world has been largely an open one. Which I like, because it gives you freedom over the way you consume your podcast. For one, I don’t use Spotify for anything other than music streaming. So no podcast streaming in Spotify for me, since the experience is simply not as good as having a dedicated podcast app.

But soon we’ll have no choice, while Gimlet has assured fans that their current roster of shows won’t go Spotify Exclusive (for now… I’d like to add), you can bet your grandma’s podcast on it that there’ll be more exclusive shows coming in the future (like the second season of Crimetown already is). I’m sure Gimlet will profit from the Spotify acquisition too, for one they can probably focus on actually creating the shows and it will probably be even easier to partner up with big brands to create branded podcasts. Good for them, I say.

For listeners, this probably won’t be a good thing. Now Spotify aggressively moves in the world of podcasting, there’ll be more and more companies wanting a piece of the pie. Soon, Apple will do exclusive podcasts and maybe Netflix will start doing tie-in exclusives too. And what about all the other streaming services… I was already slightly annoyed by the many video streaming services popping up but if I now need multiple subscriptions for audio content too, well, that’s just gonna suck, isn’t it?

At least the alternative / anarchist / activist podcasts will grow louder and prouder. And become the better for it. But that’ll probably the only good thing coming from this.

So to end on a happy note

One day, singer/songwriter Moddi was skiing outside Oslo, as one does, and saw big logging machines destroying some of his favourite trees. Not wanting to be Danny Downer, he realised that instead putting all of this in a depressing song, he could also just simply write something about the invisible forces trying to improve the world little by little everyday. It turned out to be pretty hard to write something positive about the times we live in, he writes on his website. But the result is pretty good, thankfully. And it can be listened to here.