9 Feb 2015

Podcast Recommendation Monday: 99% Invisible

Author: krb3k | Filed under: community, mobile, social media



Podcast: 99% Invisible, a show about design, architecture, and the invisible forces that shape our world. I *think* that the term “99% invisible” comes from the idea that good design (and good technology) is something that, if both are doing their jobs, you don’t notice. Rather, you subconsciously take them for granted in the same way that you expect a chair to hold your weight, or for lights to work when you flip a switch. Perhaps an even better analogy is your Pandora station: for me, at least, when Pandora is playing stuff that I really like, I don’t notice it. It isn’t until a song that I don’t like comes on that my concentration is broken, and I’m consciously aware of what I’m listening to.

Who’s responsible?: “99% Invisible” is a joint venture of KALW public radio in San Francisco and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. It is distributed by PRX on PRX Remix and has nationwide syndication.


Why I like it:

  • We rarely stop to think about the huge impact that design has on our lives (again, unless something goes wrong, or it creates a negative experience). And I’m not talking just about Apple products, IKEA stores (speaking of which, does anyone else feel like you’re being herded in an IKEA store? The fact that you can’t cut across the store makes me feel that way) or Krups coffeemakers, but rather everything from grocery stores, streets, parking garages, etc. This podcast has made me more aware of the world in which I live, and I appreciate that.
  • It always teaches me something. For instance, I’m catching up on the older episodes, and recently listened to one about Friedensreich Hundertwasser . I’d never heard of Hundertwasser, and was completely captivated by his designs- they are so joyful! The Mouldiness Manifesto is something that I can’t really get behind, but the philosophy behind it is fascinating. In my opinion, anything that we learn can enrich our lives. It can help us form new connections, make better decisions, or even simply inspire greater appreciation for the world in which we live. 99% Invisible always delivers in this area.
  • High production values. It sounds fantastic (not like my podcast, for which production values are, um, uneven), so you don’t mind having it in your ears. The music is excellent; if you like it, you can find playlists on Spotify (search for 99% Invisible).
  • The format. It’s a nice mix of reporting, interviews, and commentary by Roman Mars (yes, that’s the host’s actual name, the lucky duck!)
  • It’s a mix of the historical and the contemporary. Did you know that there was once a plan to make Dallas a port city? ME NEITHER. Because the podcast covers both old and new, listeners learn about why cities/stores, etc, are designed the way they are, and how those designs influenced subsequent designs.
  • The show has an independent spirit. As it reads on its website: “We are a completely independent production and raise all of our funds directly from the listeners, most notably from our record breaking Kickstarter campaign, and from podcast underwriters.” I love that.


Website: http://99percentinvisible.org/
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id394775318

What about you? Do you listen to 99% Invisible?