For their six-part podcast, Invisibilia hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller examine the invisible stuff that shapes us.
Is the looming presence of computers in our lives good, or just plain creepy? If you've ever been unsure about our robotic sidekicks and how they affect our behavior, you're in smart company.
Here are some of the striking stories from the last episode of the first season, "Our Computers, Ourselves."
1. Meet Thad Starner, cyborg.
Like the Terminator, Thad's eyewear is constantly populated with things he can say.
Yes! We need to embrace the futureMaybe, if it helped me remember people's names and stuffNo, I like humans the way we areI'm not sure, it looks a little dorky
vote votesYes! We need to embrace the future
vote votesMaybe, if it helped me remember people's names and stuff
vote votesNo, I like humans the way we are
vote votesI'm not sure, it looks a little dorky
2. But not everyone is convinced that being intimately linked with computers is a good idea.
3. Well, they can make us meaner.
Consider the story of this Twitter account, N Train Gossip. When a man named Peter first started it, it was because of the lack of morality police on New York City's N train, which runs from Astoria, Queens, through Manhattan.
People splay out on seats and don't get up for pregnant women, to name a few courtesy offenses. It made Peter mad. So he set up the account and whenever his blood would start to boil, he'd tweet and feel the steam dissipate. Chemically, validation is actually pretty therapeutic.
Then his tweets got a bit darker. But why? Wasn't his whole thing being nice?
4. Social scientists are steadily categorizing how online interactions are different from those offline.
5. Because whether we realize it or not, our pixelated behavior shapes our offline selves.
If you missed the episode, listen to it over at NPR or subscribe here.
Catch up with our recaps below or our interview with the hosts.
Episode 5, "The Power of Categories"
Episode 4, "Entanglement"
Episode 3, "How to Become Batman"
Episode 2, "Fearless"
Episode 1, "The Secret History of Thoughts"