10 podcasts to explore the internet
Ten podcasts to give you a tour of the internet.
As a digital sociologist and podcast addict, I’ve been meaning to force my recommendations on you for a while. I’ve included a mix of long-form investigations and lighter shows that come out regularly.
An insider’s story of working in big tech and Silicon Valley. Full of explicit sociological theory and terms, the podcast is presented by Sudhir Venkatesh, from Columbia University. It looks at how the Big Tech firms operate, why they seem unable to reckon with the social issues their tech has enabled and the theory that underpins it all.
A fascinating study into how algorithms, especially on YouTube, corrupt and radicalise viewers into extremist beliefs and conspiracy theories. This speaks to developers, psychologists and those who were indoctrinated to look at how algorithms are pouring petrol on the flames of radicalisation via the internet.
Reply All has been a favourite of mine for a while. It is a lighter show, mixing long-form investigative stories with shorter problem-solving pieces. It’s going through a turbulent period right now, following the controversy around a 4-part series they were working on about Bon Appetit and systematic racism. This mini-series sparked a discussion about Gimlet’s own history of systematic racism around the formation of the studio’s union. They’re reworking the format – and as a big fan of their newest presenter Emmanuel Dzotsi, I’m excited to see what happens next.
A humorous and irreverent podcast with teeth – the presenters have been investigating Qanon for years before they burst into the public consciousness (and the Capitol building). From the origin of pizzagate to the fragmentation of Qanon post-January 6, this podcast is a comprehensive guide to the umbrella conspiracy that millions adhere to.
Crypto-currency or pyramid scheme? This search for a missing cryptocurrency founder, Dr Ruja Ignativa, traces a story of greed and corruption.
See also: Exit Scam
Did Canada’s biggest Bitcoin exchange owner fake his own death? What happened to the $215 million dollars locked in the exchange after his death? Was it all a scam? Get involved.
See also: A Death in Cryptoland
This is literally THE SAME CASE as Exit Scam, but honestly it’s such a gripping story I listened to both.
This is a deep dive into one of the biggest attempted bank heists of all time – and how it’s linked to the state-sponsored hackers of North Korea. This looks at the new generation of technological crime and infrastructure and how it’s used by oppressive regimes.
Content warning: paedophilia.
This is an exceptionally dark podcast – but equally gripping. This is an international investigation – from Canadian broadcaster CBC and Norwegian newspaper VG to Australian internet servers and police. It traces the investigation that brought down one of the biggest paedophile forums on the dark web, and even interviews the man who created it. Be mindful of your mental health when listening to this one.
From one of my favourite podcasters, Dan Taberski (who also created Missing Richard Simmons and The Line), this is a fascinating oral history of the disaster that never happened: the Millenium Bug/Y2K. Was it a conspiracy theory? How did it affect infrastructure? How did people react to the impending doom? Gripping stuff.
What if you could program an algorithm to detect potential serial killers? Way back in 2010, a reporter decided to do just that and found that something was amiss in Gary, Indiana…
Series two focuses on a serial cyber stalker and the lengths he went to harass the dozens of women he was fixated on and the difficulty his victims had in escaping him or finding justice.
Am I missing any cool internet focused podcasts? Chuck them in the comments below.