VIDEO: Why "Office Space" Still Speaks To Us Today

Do you like science? Do you like movies? Then what could be better than a night at the movies with Science On Screen, the series created by the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA, that pairs current, classic, cult, and documentary films with talks by notable figures from the world of science, technology, and medicine.

I'm not sure I count as "notable," but at the Coolidge's invitation I gave a Science On Screen talk last week keyed to the classic 1999 comedy OFFICE SPACE from writer/director Mike Judge. The video of the talk was just posted online. Check it out:

My basic point was that like Peter Gibbons and the other characters in the movie, each of has the ability to take control of the systems and technologies we use to organize our work. I drew the ideas and the audio clips in the talk from Soonish Episode 1.08, Hacking Time. So, if you're interested, go listen to that too!

Announcing Hub & Spoke, a New Collective of Independent, Idea-Driven Podcasts

Huge news! Yesterday I joined up with my fellow podcasters Tamar Avishai of The Lonely Palette and Zachary Davis and Nick Andersen of Ministry of Ideas to unveil Hub & Spoke, a new audio collective designed to help each show grow through mutual support and cross-promotion. Here's the official press release!

Boston, Mass. — October 5, 2017 — To bolster the Boston-area podcasting ecosystem and ensure that great independent shows made here reach a wider audience, local audio producers joined today to launch Hub & Spoke (hubspokeaudio.org), a Boston-centric collective of podcasts produced outside the traditional public media system.

Taking inspiration from existing podcast collectives such as Radiotopia and The Heard, Hub & Spoke provides a community where producers share mutual support and advice. Member producers also work to grow the listening audience for all of the Hub & Spoke shows through “on-air” mentions and other forms of cross-promotion.

Join Me on November 6 for a "Science On Screen" Presentation of Mike Judge's "Office Space"

In Episode 1.08, Hacking Time, I argued that we’re not well served by the technology tools that promise to keep us productive and efficient at work. I’ve been searching for a long time, and I’ve never found the idea e-mail manager, the ideal calendar, or the ideal to-do list app. (Or the ideal robot-who-will-just-do-my-job-for-me.)

All I really want is a tool that can help me manage all the information coming at me and meet my commitments in a stress-free way. But it turns out that technology can abet the problem rather than aiding with it.  So I’ve hacked together a combination of digital and analog methods as best I can. And I think lot of people still struggle to survive in workplaces where the constant stream of tasks and meetings and memos can be deadening.

The up side to this truth is that it's the fuel for a lot of great office-comedy movies and TV shows—and Mike Judge’s Office Space (1999) is the granddaddy of them all.

At 7:00 pm on November 6, 2017, the historic Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Massachusetts, will present Office Space as part of its longstanding Science On Screen series. I’ll be giving a short talk before the movie about the paradox of productivity: how, sometimes, it feels like the more technology we bring into our lives, the less we actually get done.

WHYY's 'The Pulse' Features a Space Segment Adapted from Soonish

The Pulse, the weekly WHYY health and science show hosted by Maiken Scott, published a space-themed episode on July 21 called "Leap of Space."

The second segment of the show, '2001' Came and Went, But the Movie's Ideas Still Resonate, might sound familiar to Soonish listeners. It's a condensed version of Episode 1.01, How '2001' Got the Future So Wrong.

Staffers at The Pulse approached me about adapting the episode after they decided to do a space show and heard the Soonish episodes about 2001 and Astropreneurs. I said yes right away, of course. And working with them was a blast.

ScoutSomerville Digs Soonish and the Sonic Soirée

It was fun to learn this week that Soonish was mentioned alongside other Cambridge- and Somerville-based podcasts and radio productions in a magazine feature about the Sonic Soirée, the monthly potluck and critique session for Boston-area audio makers. The piece is in the July-August issue of ScoutSomerville, the free bi-monthly.

I've been going to Sonic Soirées for a couple of years now, and I was at the May gathering when Scout freelancer Adrianne Mathiowetz showed up to do research for her story.

The real star of the story was my friend and colleague Tamar Avishai, maker of the awesome art history podcast The Lonely Palette (and one guest in Soonish Ep. 1.03, Can Technology Save Museums?).

Talking Robots and Jobs with Google's Hal Varian, Wharton's Lynn Wu, and WPI's Mike Gennert

From 2014 to 2016 I volunteered for the MIT Alumni Association as the founding host of a program called Faculty Forum Online — Alumni Edition. It was a series of live video conversations meant to illustrate the diverse jobs and challenges that MIT alumni are tackling around the world. The forums were multicast on Google Hangouts, and my guests responded to chat questions coming in from audience members watching remotely.

This Monday, May 22, I reprised the moderator role for a special "FFO/AE" conducted with a live audience at Newbury Court, a beautiful retirement community in Concord, MA. The topic was "Robots & Your Job," an area I touched on in Soonish Ep. 1.04, Future Factories, With Workers Built In.

The Full Stever Robbins Interview

As a special bonus for all the productivity geeks out there, here's the full recording of my interview with Stever Robbins.

I spoke with Stever back on April 25, 2017, and I used a bunch of tape from this interview in Episode 1.08 of Soonish, Hacking Time.

I first met Stever probably eight or nine years ago after seeing him give a talk at a conference, and I've always been a big fan of his podcast, The Get It Done Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More.

In addition to being a podcaster, Stever is an entrepreneur and a career coach, an author, a fellow MIT alumnus, and simply one of the smartest people I know around the big questions about productivity. Like, how to stay motivated in your work or your creative projects; how to stay organized around those projects; and how much technology is enough for staying organized, and how much is too much.

Join Me on May 22 for an Online Forum on Robots in the Workplace

Big news! On May 22 I'll be hosting a live Google Hangouts discussion on "Robots in the Workplace: How artificial intelligence and automation are helping (and hurting) American workers." The event will feature Google's chief economist, Hal Varian, and scholars from the Wharton School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. All Soonish listeners are invited to join.

To get the link for the online-only Google Hangout on May 22, register here. It's free!

If you're an MIT alumnus and you'd like to attend the live taping of the session in Newton, MA, register here.

The Full Ariel Waldman Interview

One of my most fascinating interviews for Soonish Episode 1.07, Astropreneurs, was with Ariel Waldman, the creator of Spacehack.org, the global director of Science Hack Day, and the author of What's It Like In Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There.

Waldman has made it her personal mission to get more people involved in science, especially space exploration. Her talk at the New Space Age Conference at MIT's Sloan School of Management in March was part of what convinced me that I needed to make an episode about space entrepreneurship.

How to Review Soonish on Apple Podcasts or the iTunes Store

If you enjoy Soonish, one of the most powerful things you can do to support the show is to leave a rating and a review of the show in the Apple Podcasts directory.

There are plenty of other ways to find podcasts these days. But I've looked at my own download statistics, and more than half of the folks who discover and listen to Soonish are doing it using the Apple Podcasts app on their smartphones.

The Full Natalie Rubio Interview

Winston Churchill wrote in 1931: "Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium."

Churchill's prediction hasn't come true on the schedule he laid out. But people like Natalie Rubio are working as quickly as they can to bring about his vision of lab-grown meat, or what's now known as "cellular agriculture."

The Full Adam Salomone Interview

Presented for your enjoyment: the full tape of Soonish's interview with Adam Salomone. 

In Episode 1.05 of Soonish, Meat Without the Moo, Adam shares some perspectives on The Jackfruit Company, the startup Annie Ryu founded to introduce jackfruit to Western consumers. But the truth is I could have done a whole show just around my conversation with Adam.

He has an amazingly rich background in the food business, first as the longtime associate publisher of the cookbook publishing company Harvard Common Press (now part of the Quarto Group) and more recently as the co-founder and CEO of The Food Loft, a collaborative workspace in Boston for food and tech companies.

What's On Wade's Podcast Playlist?

I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot. If you've seen my past lists of podcast recommendations, like this 2015 Xconomy piece and this 2016 sequel and update, you know that my list of must-listen shows runs into the dozens.

Now there's an easier way for me to share shows and episodes that I especially like. It's the new personal playlist feature in the awesome podcatcher app from RadioPublic. I've used the feature to set up my own running playlist, which features great episodes that gave me new stuff to think about.

The Full Dan Woods Interview

My interview with TechShop CEO Dan Woods for Soonish Episode 1.05, Future Factories—With Workers Built In, was so fun and wide-ranging that I wanted to share the full version here on the site.

Woods has an academic background in aeronautics and business administration. At O'Reilly Media, Dan was the co-founder of the how-to magazine MAKE, overseeing sales, circulation, marketing, media relations, and community outreach.

The Full Tamar Avishai Interview

You might think that an audio program about the visual arts is a contradiction in terms. Every three weeks, Tamar Avishai proves that's wrong in her podcast The Lonely Palette

In each episode, Tamar picks a specific work of art, goes to the museum that owns it, and interviews visitors about their reactions. Then, drawing on her art-history training and her experience as a lecturer at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, she brings out threads within those reactions to weave a rich audio essay about the work's creator and the context of its creation. 

Tamar's very first regular episode was about my favorite painting at the MFA: Cezanne's Fruit and Jug on a Table. Cezanne was a visual philosopher and a bit of a weirdo—there's no way around it—and Tamar goes right to the core of his art when she explains that he was exploring what it means to look at something with subjective eyes in a subjective head. "Cezanne wanted to capture what looking looks like," Tamar says. "And as it turns out, it's wonky."

News from the Future: A Podcast Playlist on RadioPublic

Special Update, June 6, 2017: My "News From the Future" playlist is back in the featured rotation on RadioPublic this week! You can find it here. (The link works best from an iPhone or Android phone with RadioPublic already installed.)

Original Post, January 25, 2017: I've been working on something special with the fine folks at RadioPublic, a Boston-based startup that's creating new ways for people to find and hear great podcasts.