Happy Friday! This week’s interview is with WIRED senior writer Lauren Goode. We talked about the new podcast — Get WIRED — that she’s hosting, pandemic listenership habits, and the most important tech issues that **all of this** has brought into sharp relief.
First, what's your day-to-day like?
I'm usually at my computer screen around 8 a.m. PT or earlier. I like the morning. It's a good time to get writing done. It's before the news of the day has really worn you down.
A good portion of my day is still spent trying to source stories, take briefings, and actually write. But with the launch of Get WIRED, I'm also spending big chunks of time in taping sessions now. It's a lot more Zooming with colleagues, because we'll Zoom together as we're recording our individual audio feeds. And then in the evening I'll try to exercise or just go for a walk, so I can listen to other podcasts or make phone calls to family on the east coast.
The idea behind Get WIRED is that it takes listeners “behind the scenes” on some of the magazine's best stories. What challenges are there when it comes to translating or adapting a story from online or print for audio?
This is a great question, because in some ways we're still figuring this out. A lot of our magazine stories and feature-length stories on Wired.com are the result of months of reporting. And sometimes we don't have usable audio from that process, or it's impossible to go back and repeat the reporting.
So now, as we're producing Get WIRED, we're starting to think about how we can incorporate higher-quality audio recordings from the start. We're also more interested in characters, the human element of the story. For example, plenty of reporting has been done on the app Citizen, but we told the story through one of the app's power users, a 12-year-old crime chaser.
For a long time, tech podcasts have been platforms for technologists to share their vision or make bold predictions about the future. And that's fine, and we'll certainly be asking about the future, but the truth is that no one knows what the future looks like right now. So we want to tell stories about the ways humans are living through and trying to find their way out of this dark timeline.
You've been in the podcast biz for a while, having co-hosted Too Embarrassed to Ask with Kara Swisher and the Digits show with WSJ before coming to WIRED. I’m curious about the particular challenges the pandemic has brought to the work of hosting.
It's definitely more challenging! I am this close to being Zoomed out, which is not good! I'm also about to interview an AI next week for the podcast, via Google Meet, so I'll let you know how that goes. I can't believe that is a sentence I just said.
And you’ve also talked about the potential for podcast fatigue now that people are pretty much stuck at home all day. Have you seen any other changes in behavior for podcast listenership since this all began?
I think one of the things we've realized is just how private podcast listening is. Meaning, it's an individual experience. It happens during your walk or run, or when you're driving, or when you're cooking alone.
Obviously, this pandemic means a lot of us are home almost all hours of the day, in close quarters with family or housemates. And that solo time may have eroded. So when you launch a podcast now, you're asking people to use their rare quiet time to listen to your show. It's a big ask, but it makes me even more conscious of the fact that we need to tell compelling stories.
But also I hear from people who tell me they're listening to podcasts more now. Either because the podcast is a temporary diversion from what's happening in the world, or because podcasts are their portal to what's happening in the world. They don't want to spend hours glued to the news, so they'll get their updates from a podcast instead. I think both of those listener groups are important to pay attention to.
Building on that a little, how do you think the pandemic has changed (or will change) our relationship to technology in general?
I think everything has changed. I don't say that lightly. It's too much to encapsulate in an answer here.
One thing that the pandemic has brought into incredibly sharp focus for me is what kind of problems people actually need solved when it comes to technology. I've been reporting on consumer tech for about a decade, and I've been pitched on plenty of solutions in search of problems.
But it seems like what people really need is work-from-home tech that actually works, chat apps that are private and secure and can include everyone on the same thread, online communities that can help support their child care needs or elder care needs. We need tech that lasts longer because it's better for the environment, and so we're not dealing with repair problems in the middle of a pandemic. And we really, really need to figure out online education — particularly for kids in underserved communities.
Don’t forget to follow @laurengoode on Twitter, and have a good weekend!
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