Are you a reviewer, reporter, writer, blogger, podcaster, advertiser, or potential partner looking for more information about Soonish? Then you’re in the right place! This page packages up all the introductory facts you might need.
I’m Wade Roush and I make audio and write stories about the interplay between people and technology. I live in Cambridge, MA. I write a monthly column for Scientific American magazine called “Ventures,” and I’ve been a staff reporter and/or editor at Science magazine, MIT Technology Review magazine, and the tech news site Xconomy. I’m the former acting director of MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Program. In 2018 I edited Twelve Tomorrows, an anthology of hard science fiction stories from MIT Technology Review and the MIT Press, and more recently I completed a second book for the MIT Press that’s due out in 2020. I earned a PhD in the history of technology from MIT, and before that, a BA in history and science from Harvard.
What the Show Is About
Soonish is about the world that’s just around the corner. It chronicles the technologies that will shape the near future, and the people who are shaping those technologies.
Each episode explores a new area of technology—from artifical meat to microsatelltes to neural interfaces—and assembles sound-rich narratives about the people who are pushing the boundaries of innovation and/or the people figuring out how these new technologies should be used. I act as a friendly guide and narrator and introduce listeners to the compelling characters I’ve found through my in-the-field reporting.
For example, the Season 3 opener, “When Minds and Machines Converge,” looks at the coming wave of brain-machine interfaces, technologies that will allow us to communicate more directly with computers. It focuses on Ariel Garten, the co-founder of Toronto-based Interaxon, developer of a wearable EEG sensor called Muse. Ariel explains how Muse evolved from a tool for “thought-controlling” various devices into a meditation aid, and what she’s doing to ensure that brainwave-sensing technologies are used responsibly.
Why I Created the Show
Rapid-fire advances in technology are the signature of our age. And while technological change can be hugely beneficial, it can also be uncomfortable, disorienting, and occasionally dangerous.
Understandably, many people feel powerless before technology, as if it were an impersonal, unstoppable force. But what they don’t realize is that 1) all technologies are designed and built by real humans with very human motivations, and 2) new technologies don’t catch on without active consumer input and participation.
In short, we have far more control over which technologies get adopted, and what form they take, than we think. But before that reality can sink in, people need to hear it illustrated over and over, in many different contexts. And that’s what Soonish tries to do: tell stories demonstrating the humanity of the innovators designing new technologies and the agency of the people adopting, adapting, or rejecting them.
Who Is the Show For?
Soonish listeners are actively seeking deeper information about technology and its effects on society, and vice versa. It’s for people who wonder how the technological systems around them came to be, and how they can make better choices about the systems that will define the future.
Length and Frequency
Episodes are 25 to 40 minutes long. The show is published roughly monthly, with one season per year and 8 to 10 episodes per season.
I released the first episode of Soonish on January 13, 2017. The second season began in September 2017 and the third season began in October 2018.
About Hub & Spoke
In the fall of 2017 I worked with a group of fellow independent audio producers to create Hub & Spoke, a collective of high-quality, nonfiction podcasts. As of mid-2019 there are six Hub & Spoke shows: The Constant, Culture Hustlers, Iconography, The Lonely Palette, Ministry of Ideas, and Soonish. We collaborate to cross-promote one other’s shows and provide mutual professional support. We’re tied together both by geography (most of the shows in the network are produced in the Boston area) and by our common commitment to storytelling that’s entertaining, educational, and informed by the sciences and the humanities.
Comments on Soonish
Wade’s storytelling is so precise and thoughtful that you can just tell the guy has a PhD from MIT. I love his ambitious approach to the show, which is remarkably produced by a team of one. It truly feels like he’s on an epic quest to discover the future and I’m along for the ride. You will literally be smarter just by listening!—Alex Braunstein, Community Manager, PRX Podcast Garage, Five Local Podcasts To Try for #Trypod
I listened to all your episodes so far over the past few days and I just finished "Meat Without the Moo." I'm so impressed! The stories you're telling are fascinating, production quality is super high and I find the optimistic tone extremely refreshing.—Daniel Imrie-Situnayake, founder and CEO, Tiny Farms
Wow! This is like an NPR show. It's like This American Life, except I'm not depressed at the end of it. —Chris Revill, @letschatpodcast
Awesome podcast about tech and the soonish future—@TechCompassion
Discover Soonish—a transporting podcast program about the future, created by @MITPSTS alum @wroush—@MIT_SHASS
@soonishpodcast Love your work - so looking forward to new episodes. A great recommendation from @RadioPublic!—@bmason
What's better, the joy of conversation with @wroush, or being a part of this great episode? Why not both?—@thelonelypalette
Fascinating episode on advanced manufacturing, jobs, and America's place in the world.—@gthuang
Ordinarily, shows about the future of factories involve drone delivery services and a spike in unemployment. This episode addresses the positive potentials of reimagining manufacturing—a world in which skilled workers create customized products using high-tech tools that are increasingly available to the average individual. In short, robotizing the assembly line could actually be a good thing.—Bello Collective #28, February 27, 2017
Twitter: @soonishpodcast, http://www.twitter.com/soonishpodcast
Google Play Music: https://play.google.com/music/m/Ideuihd4fi7hk47igy3x5b5srqy?t=Soonish
Archive of all episodes: https://www.soonishpodcast.org/episodes
Hub & Spoke: http://www.hubspokeaudio.org
Wade Roush’s website: http://www.waderoush.com
Show artwork and logos and host photos are available on request.