DiscoverFunction with Anil Dash
Function with Anil Dash

Function with Anil Dash

Author: Vox Media

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Our culture is shaped by technology, and the people building that technology determine how it’s changing our lives. But who are they? And how do they think about their responsibility to the rest of us? From mental health to algorithmic bias, entrepreneur Anil Dash talks to developers, designers, and culture experts to understand the ways tech is changing culture, and what it means for us. Produced by Glitch and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
25 Episodes
In keeping with our season long discussion of trust on the internet, on this bonus episode of Function - we explore online safety. Writer and activist Feminista Jones talks about the lasting effects of online harassment. Then, Anil talks with Tarah Demant of Amnesty International about an Amnesty report that calls out the abuse and harassment women face on Twitter. Finally Anil speaks with Gina Bianchini, CEO of Mighty Networks, about her platform and what it takes to build safer online communities. LINKS: Toxic Twitter - Amnesty International Report Mighty Networks
What happens when social networks become social media, and tech starts making editorial decisions? Anil talks with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen about the priorities of tech companies and how their faux neutrality and feigned ignorance has taken a toll on our news cycles and elections. Together, they identify the problems that the press is facing, like attention hacking and misinformation, in order to focus on how the press and us as citizens can reclaim “the news” and what they care about.
Part 2 of Anil's discussion of Prince's complicated relationship with technology. How do you go from fan to colleague to friend with an icon? Prince’s manager, Phaedra Ellis Lamkins and Sam Jennings, one of Prince’s webmasters take us on a journey of growth and evolution of an artist realizing his worth and his power. As part of a team of trusted friends and confidants they helped “The Artist” realize tech dreams that would serve us all. We also learn that the vision of freedom we often associate with Prince isn’t what we thought.
What does it mean to be on the receiving end of a Prince direct message? This week on Function, Anil takes us through Prince’s complicated relationship with technology through his eyes and the eyes of super fans Jay Smooth, social commentator and former host of WBAI's Underground Railroad; and Andrea Swensson, host and writer at Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current, where she helms The Local Show, a weekly show dedicated to exploring the Minnesota music scene. From being summoned to Paisley Park to being part of early crowdfunding and subscriber based models pioneered by Prince; we learn what it felt like to build a relationship with Prince online a decade before social media made artists accessible to fans. As Prince's relationship with technology evolved, he worked hard to control his image often times butting heads with his fans and record labels. ***Check out Anil's guest episode with Switched on Pop where he talked more in-depth about the ways technology influenced Prince's music. ***
Function is back next week with a new episode. In the meantime, check out Reset from Vox and Recode. Students across the country are graded by artificial intelligence. But does an algorithm really know how to write? Links to resources discussed: Flawed Algorithms Are Grading Millions of Students’ Essays How I’m using AI to write my next novel Featuring: @SigalSamuel @ToddFeathers About Reset Every story is a tech story. We live in a world where algorithms drive our interests, scientists are re-engineering our food supply, and a robot may be your next boss. Host Arielle Duhaime-Ross explores why–and how–tech is changing everything. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to Reset for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app to get new episodes every week.
Anil speaks with Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of Race After Technology, about design discrimination. They discuss how systemic racism is replicated in the technology we use and how tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning and software used in the criminal justice system are shaped by racial bias. Then he speaks with James Cadogan, VP of Criminal Justice, and Kristin Bechtel, Director of Criminal Justice Research, for Arnold Ventures, a non-profit that funds the Public Safety Assessment, a tool used by judges that predicts a person's likelihood to reoffend or return to court if released.
GIFs as Blackface

GIFs as Blackface


It seems like every month a new cringe worthy picture of a public official in Blackface is shared on social media. The pictures usually surface decades after they were taken but they are born out of a long tradition of Blackface and racial mockery in America. But that tradition isn't just a part of our history, it's being replicated online through our use of GIFs. Anil talks with Dr. Lauren Michelle Jackson, author of White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue & and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation and Kenyatta Cheese, digital enthusiast, cofounder of Everybody at Once, and founder of Know Your Meme, about digital blackface. They discuss how we can examine our online persona's and how algorithmic choices reflect systemic bias.
Are we making sure the tech we create is usable for the people we say we want to help? Accessibility is more than a buzzword. Anil speaks with Emily Ladau, co- host of The Accessible Stall podcast; Alex Haagaard, Director of Communications at the Disabled List, and Vilissa Thompson, founder of Ramp Your Voice, about accessibility bias in tech and what abled designers can unlearn in order to create more inclusive apps.  These activists are dedicated to making sure disabled people are represented in the design processes within tech and all facets of society.
Does the internet help or harm our mental health? In this season two premiere of Function, Anil explores how the web made an impact on his mental health and talks to experts like Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, Stanford University psychiatrist and author; and web creators Desi Rottman and Angelo Stavrow about the how the internet is changing the way we see ourselves and interact with others. Together, they explore the consequences of our love affair with the internet and discuss ways to use the internet to manage our mental health. Guest Links: Dr. Elias Aboujaoude Desi Rottman Angelo Stavrow LINKS:
Function S2 Trailer

Function S2 Trailer


Function with Anil Dash is back with all new episodes on October 2.
The integrity of the internet is at stake -- what have we lost and how do we get it back? At the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Anil spoke with web scholars and writers about reclaiming the internet through historical context, how we are tethered to social media and the inventive ways marginalized people have always reinvented the platforms available. Panelists Charlton McIlwain Anne Helen Petersen Sarah T. Roberts Siva Vaidhyanathan
Are social networks downplaying their complicity in the problem that is “fake news?”Anil talks to Fadi Quran of the people powered social advocacy group, Avaaz, about how tech is used to target groups of people and spread disinformation that affects our elections, relationships, and social justice movements. Together they discuss insidious nature of disinformation and misinformation, meet its victims, and go over solutions.  Listen closely for the steps that platforms can take right now to stem the tide of fake news and fake accounts.  LINKS:
On our season finale of Function, Anil sits down with Alex Kleinco-founder and CEO of Kano Computing live from the Google Assistant Playground at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Coding education for kids is wildly popular, from books and toys to after school programs from non-profit organizations, companies are putting lots of money and resources behind helping create the next generation of programmers. But is that enough? A few years ago, Anil wrote about his skepticism behind these efforts, wondering if perhaps they are missing the mark on teaching proficiency over literacy. Alex's company Kano creates kits for all ages that help make coding and computing skills as simple and fun as putting together LEGO bricks. He shares what motivated him to empower kids and beginners to create technology. Thank you for listening to the first season of Function! As we take a break and prep for season two, we want to learn more about you. What do you like about Function? What would you change? Tell us everything in our audience survey! Visit and let us know what you think. References and other notes: Harry Potter Coding Kit Glitch user Samarth Jajoo "It's more than just 'teach kids to code'" (Anil Dash) Steve Jobs "bicycle for the mind" reference Kara Swisher's 2010 interview with Mark Zuckerberg DJ Focus
On Function, our focus is about how technology has influenced culture and communications, and nothing encompasses the intersection of these concepts more than social media. It's allowed us to express our innermost feelings, meet people that share our interests, and find community with others from all over the world. This week, we're doing something a little different. Anil sits down with some of the pioneers of the social web — Bruce Ableson (founder of Open Diary), Lisa Phillips (former senior system administrator at LiveJournal), and Andrew Smales (founder of Diaryland) — for an oral history about social media 20 years ago. What was the Web like in 1999? How did these websites begin, and what did the media think about them? How have the features of these networks influenced the Web that we know today, and can we get that old feeling back of the early social web? Show notes and references: Brad Pitt parody site on Diaryland ( Who is the Real JT LeRoy? (New York Magazine) George R.R. Martin's LiveJournal page
Saving money is at the top of a lot of people's lists of new year's resolutions. According to Fidelity Investments, nearly one-third of Americans want to make some type of money resolution for 2019. Maybe you want to pay down debt, or maybe you just want to save more of your hard-earned cash. Regardless of the goal, there are a number of mobile apps to help you make it happen. But are they worth the download or do they just make you feel bad about your spending routines? We're kicking off 2019 here on Function with a look at personal finance apps. Anil sits down with Varun Krishna, VP of Product at Intuit Consumer Group, the company behind the apps Mint and Turbo. Varun says money can be the primary source of stress for most people, and personal finance apps can help transform the nature of finances for households and individuals. Anil also talks to author and personal finance coach Tarra Jackson, better known as "Madam Money". Tarra shares the apps she uses for her own spending habits and discusses how personal finance apps help her clients re-evaluate where their money goes. Other Personal Finance Apps Mentioned Acorns Digit Cash App Robinhood Qapital You Need A Budget (YNAB) Other Links "Financial Fornication" by Tarra Jackson 52 Week Saving Challenge
Digital Giving for Good

Digital Giving for Good


It's the end of 2018, and charities and nonprofit organizations are gearing up for their most important fundraising campaign of the year. Over 30% of all annual giving occurs in December, with approximately 12% of giving happening in these final three days of the month. Whether it's SMS, mobile apps, social media, email newsletters, or a simple donation button on your website, technology has now made donating to your favorite cause easier than ever. We're looking at digital giving this week on Function, and Anil talks with the creators of two of the most influential and innovative new nonprofits in the country. The Human Utility, co-founded by Tiffani Bell helps citizens in Detroit and Baltimore pay their water bills. Anil speaks with Tiffani about what inspired her to start this initiative, and we learn more about the impact its had on communities in both cities. Anil also talks to the duo behind Appolition, Tiffany Mikell and Dr. Kortney Ziegler about how their app helps people donate their spare change to help with community bail funds. You'll learn how even small actions in tech can enable us to be more generous, more giving and more charitable.
The 2018 midterm elections have wrapped up here in the U.S., and issues with voting machines are back in the news. It's not a hanging chad situation like the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, but malfunctions, outdated tech, and talk of interference from foreign powers has tanked voter confidence. With the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign season about to kickoff, how do you rock the vote when you're not even sure your vote is being properly counted? And how do you put trust in a voting system that's full of weak links? On Function this week, we're looking at voting machines and election security. Anil talks with Verified Voting data consultant Matt Bernhard about the history of voting machines and the broad social implications of technology and privacy. We also talk to Maurice Turner, a former poll worker and senior technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, who gives practical advice for individual voters who are worried about the trustworthiness of their local precincts. Show notes: Verified Voting Center for Democracy and Technology AccuVote TS Serious Vulnerabilities in Georgia’s Online Voter Registration System(Matt Bernhard's Medium piece) Can Georgia’s electronic voting machines be trusted? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
On November 1, 2018, thousands of Google employees around the world staged a mass walkout in protest of how the company handled claims of sexual misconduct. While this is not the first time we have seen protests at this scale, it does signal to the larger community that workers at huge tech companies like these are at an inflection point. When is enough, enough? This week on Function, we take a look at the rising labor movement in tech by hearing from those whose advocacy was instrumental in setting the foundation for what we see today around the dissent from tech workers. Anil talks to Leigh Honeywell, CEO and founder of Tall Poppy and creator of the Never Again pledge, about how her early work, along with others, helped galvanize tech workers to connect the dots between different issues in tech. Next, Anil speaks to Former Facebook manager Mark S. Luckie about his recent memo that's swept the Internet, and Mark details steps that tech companies can do to make conditions better for employees of color. Lastly, Anil sits down with Matt Rivitz: one of the key people behind the grassroots campaign Sleeping Giants which caused thousands of advertisers to remove their ads from Breitbart News. According to Matt, there needs to be an awakening in the tech industry, and he illustrates that all of us can take small actions which can come together to make a massive change. Guests Leigh Honeywell Mark S. Luckie Matt Rivitz Other Links Google employees worldwide staging walkout to protest response to sexual misconduct claims (USA Today) Facebook is failing its black employees and its black users (Mark S. Luckie / Facebook) Revealed: The People Behind an Anti-Breitbart Twitter Account (The New York Times)
Squarespace. Mailchimp. Casper. Blue Apron. If you're a regular podcast listener, then there's no doubt you've heard ads from these companies, among many others. Podcasting's reach has grown exponentially over the past few years, and companies like these are spending millions of dollars to reach listeners whenever, wherever and however they tune in. But is this truly effective? What type of ads work best? And if you're not a podcast from a big media organization, how can you can get a piece of the pie? This week on Function, we examine the world of podcast advertising. Anil sits down with Francesco Baschieri, president of Voxnest, and talks about some of the trends and technology behind podcast ads. We also hear from New York City podcasting duo Jade + XD and pull back the curtain on advertising and monetization from an independent media perspective. How does podcast advertising stay ahead of tech like adblockers? What happens when an ad is automatically placed in your podcast by the network that goes against both the host and the audience? You'll find out the answers to all this and more on this week's episode! But first, a word from our sponsors.... Guests Francesco Baschieri Jade + XD Other Links Voxnest Jade + XD's Website Dynamic Ad Insertion — What it is and Why You Should Be Utilising It (Voxnest) Podcasts, Analytics, and Centralization (Stratechery) But First, A Word From 100 Podcasts' Sponsors (FiveThirtyEight)
YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the Internet, and millions of users upload all kinds of videos to it every day. Some of these are original productions, but there are also song covers, clips from television or movies, and lots of other content that occupy a murky gray area with respect to copyright. Including a caption like "no copyright infringement intended" might offer you some protection, but YouTube's Content ID system could ensure that your video is demonetized or blocked from the platform completely. On this week's episode of Function, we look into YouTube and copyright infringement with entertainment lawyer Gordon Firemark and YouTuber and musician Paul Davids. Gordon specializes in theatre, film, television, and new media law, and he breaks down how works become copyright, talks about the concept of fair use, and discusses with Anil why a copyright disclaimer could do more harm than good. Later, Anil speaks with Paul about how YouTube's Content ID system resulted in getting a copyright strike on his own original song. As someone who has been on the other side of this issue, Paul offers a thoughtful and nuanced explanation on his situation that will influence how you think about your work and copyrights. Guests Gordon Firemark Paul Davids Other Links It's Over! Viacom and Google Settle YouTube Lawsuit. (Recode) Fair use Digital Millennium Copyright Act What is a YouTube Content ID claim? YouTuber in row over copyright infringement of his own song (BBC News)
Comments (2)

Michelena Wolf

Your focus on tech and how it can benefit or harm us reminds me a lot of the campaign for President of Andrew Yang. I'd love to hear you interview him.

Dec 29th

Josh Blanchette

I expected the host to do something other than fawn given that the guest works for Intuit. The folks at Vox clearly know that this is no benign tech company. I thought this podcast was supposed to be about calling out these tech-based social issues. Such a missed opportunity! "TurboTax is an evil, parasitic product that exists entirely because taxes are confusing and hard to file. Worse than that, Intuit is one of the loudest voices on Capitol Hill arguing against measures that make it easier to pay taxes."

Jan 7th
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