Since we’ve been on lockdown, have you noticed your podcast consumption increasing or decreasing? The number of podcasts have exploded the past few years, and it seems like one effect of the lockdown is that all the people who “always wanted to start a podcast” are now actually doing that, and let’s just say the quality is not uniform.
But I do listen to a fair number of podcasts – legal, technology, and otherwise – and I plan to start making some recommendations here for those of you who are looking for something new to check out.
And the first one I want to recommend is Rabbit Hole, from Kevin Roose at the New York Times. According to Kevin, a catalyst for the audio series was a knee-jerk reaction he had to an article posted on Twitter, which got him wondering: was he actually mad, or did the digital world we live in make him feel like he should be mad?
Rabbit Hole is an examination of how our personalities and opinions are being shaped by the technology we use, and specifically how the algorithms running that technology are increasingly successful at directing our tastes and thoughts.The series tells the stories of people who are doing the shaping, as well as those who have been shaped, for better or (mostly) for worse. These eight episodes focus on YouTube; its algorithm has arguably been the most influential on shaping internet viewer behavior. It was disturbing to learn that the main character of the first few episodes listened to more than 40,000 hours of YouTube videos in a single year. I’d guess he’s not the only one.
Why lawyers should care. First, that whole duty of technological competence thing. Knowing how technologies like YouTube work will help you advise clients who may have their own YouTube channel, or represent clients who have in some way been adversely affected. Second, I’ll bet some of you who don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube have a rather benign view of it – when it’s a tool that really deserves more awareness and attention.