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.
22 Episodes
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’ EssaysHow I’m using AI to write my next novelFeaturing:@SigalSamuel@ToddFeathersAbout ResetEvery 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 Rottman Stavrow
Function S2 Trailer

Function S2 Trailer


Function with Anil Dash is back with all new episodes on October 2.
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 KitGlitch user Samarth Jajoo"It's more than just 'teach kids to code'" (Anil Dash)Steve Jobs "bicycle for the mind" referenceKara Swisher's 2010 interview with Mark ZuckerbergDJ Focus
Comments (1)

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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