Categories: Internet Health

11 podcast episodes about the Internet

The Internet hosts thousands of hours of podcasts, all ready for our on-demand listening pleasure. While podcasting might not save the world, it does contribute to a healthy, vibrant Internet. Anyone and everyone can make a show to express themselves, pursue ideas and teach others. Some shows do a remarkable job covering Internet Health issues like privacy, security, openness, inclusion and more. Here are eleven worth hearing, from heart-wrenching human stories to lofty academic conversations, all touching on the Internet’s past, present and future.

1. TED Radio Hour: Open Source World

Creating things freely and in the open sometimes leads to results you never thought possible.

Synopsis: The era of open source has led to countless innovations. When does it work and when is it chaos? In this episode, TED speakers explore how open source is changing how we build, collaborate and govern.

My review: This TED Radio Hour makes the case for why an open source world is a better world, and they do it in a beautiful, conversational way. I listened to this podcast on a Saturday morning in my kitchen, and texted the link to a friend with the comment, “So freaking inspiring!” Seriously, this podcast had me almost in tears of gratitude and inspiration. Good TED Talks can do that. Or maybe I’m just emotional. Either way, it’s good listening.



Direct link to the episode.

2. Note to Self: The Bookie, The Phone Booth, and The FBI

When privacy is invaded, it’s not all at once. It’s little by little by little. It’s changing our society and will have profound implications for who we are as a nation.

Synopsis: The fourth amendment doesn’t mention privacy once. But those 54 little words, written more than 200 years ago, are a crucial battleground in today’s fight over our digital rights. That one sentence is why the government can’t listen to your phone calls without a warrant. And it’s why they don’t need one to find out who you’re calling.

My review: I’ve listened to this episode several times. At around the 21-minute mark, when Laura Donohue, director of Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology, eloquently summarizes why privacy matters and how the fourth amendment plays a critical role in defining who we are as a country, I was ready to take to the streets draped in an American flag to defend my constitutional rights. I also got hooked on Note to Self, which tackles the modern quandaries of Internet citizens in an approachable way.

Direct link to the episode.

3. FT Tech Tonic: Political Disruption and the Internet

You can donate your blood, but you can’t donate your data.

Synopsis: Helen Margetts, head of the Oxford Internet Institute, talks to the Financial Times’ Madhumita Murgia about fake news, echo chambers, big data and why we need more research to be able to combat the “pathologies” of the internet.

My review: As a parent to two young digital natives, I’m concerned about the positive and negative effects of the Internet on them, our society and our future. I didn’t know the Oxford Internet Institute existed, and I’m relieved that academics are studying the social science of the Internet. This podcast is a more academic (and British) conversation about how technology and the Internet can turn small political actions into mass mobilization. Margetts also examines the role of big data analytics in democracies. Good stuff from FT Tech Tonic.


Direct link to the episode.

4. This American Life: If you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS

Let’s dive into the bile. Let’s dive Into the hate, and look around and see whatever we can understand. Let’s ask the dumbest questions, like “Why so mad?” And if you are so mad, why go to the trouble to tell strangers?

Synopsis: It’s safe to say whatever you want on the Internet; nobody will know it’s you. But that same anonymity makes it possible for people to say all the awful things that make the Internet such an annoying and sometimes frightening place.

My review: I was riveted by writer Lindy West’s story about confronting the man behind the worst trolling experience of her life. For an outspoken, self-described “fat” woman who writes about women’s issues, that’s saying a lot. In classic This American Life style, three more segments carry the theme onward, bringing Internet anger into a very human focus.

Direct link to the episode.

5. To the Best of Our Knowledge: Why is the Internet toxic for women?

The same ways we once trivialized domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace were the very same arguments that victims of cyber harassment are faced with.

Synopsis: Ask any woman who spends much time online and she’ll tell you – being a woman on the Internet means coping with abuse and harassment. In one study, nearly half of the women surveyed had been harassed online – and 76 percent of those under 30. As a society, why do we have to put up with this? And how do we fight back?

My review: The episode starts with an incessant buzzing, the sound your phone makes when you get a message. The dispassionate voiceover is indie game developer Zoë Quinn talking about how her phone blew up with messages at the start of Gamergate. To The Best of Our Knowledge’s hosts go on to talk with four more guests — strong, smart women — about the cost of harassment and misogyny. I didn’t come away with “the answer,” but I did come away thinking we can do better than this. Every voice that is silenced due to mistrust in the the online world comes at a cost to us all.


Direct link to the episode.

6 – 7. Reply All: The Russian Passenger + Beware All

Oh god–have I been pwned?

Synopsis: Somewhere in Russia, a man calls for a car. Somewhere in New York City, a stranger’s phone buzzes. Alex Blumberg’s Uber account gets hacked. PJ Vogt, Alex Goldman and Phia Bennin set out to solve the mystery.

My review: It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite Reply All episode to feature because they are all so good. In these episodes, the hosts embark on a journey to figure out out how Alex Blumberg’s Uber account got hacked. I identified with the awful, helpless feeling of trying to figure out how it happened and what to do about it. No spoilers, but makes sure to listen to both episodes.

Direct link to the episode.

Direct link to the episode.

8. Harvard Business Review: When Not to Trust the Algorithm

I wanted to tell the world, because I thought it was relatively invisible to most people, that we’d all drunk the Kool-Aid of big data and we trusted so math so much, so deeply, that it was blinding us to the real problem.

Synopsis: Cathy O’Neil, data scientist and blogger at , co-host of the Slate Money podcast, and author of the new book Weapons of Math Destruction discusses how data can lead us astray—from HR to Wall Street.

My review: With “Big Data” being ever-present in our lives, gathering endless information about what we do, think and feel, the conversation about ethical use of data is not always front and center. Cathy O’Neill is changing that. She talks to HBR Ideacast about her time as Wall Street number cruncher during the financial crisis and her journey to best selling author. Math nerds unite!

Direct link to the episode.

9. Recode Decode: Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle

If we allow those who control the present to control the past then they control the future. That’s George Orwell. We need to know what came before.

Synopsis: Journalist Kara Swisher hosts entrepreneur, activist and founder of the Internet Archive (AKA, the Internet Wayback Machine) Brewster Kahle to discuss the growth of the open internet and the importance of having a history of the internet available to everyone.

My review: This Recode Decode conversation is not only about the history of the Internet, it’s about the importance of preserving the web as history. With the web being a decentralized platform by design, saving its content it is no easy feat. Enter social media’s walled gardens and the job is even trickier. I’m grateful people like Kahle are dedicated to keeping the Internet open and available to everyone. I also picked up this nice tidbit: there’s an Internet Hall of Fame, and Kahle is in it.

Direct link to the episode.

10. Freakonomics Radio: Is the Internet being ruined?

The Internet has the potential to create a more engaged and creative society. The risk is that gatekeepers and profiteers and others will turn it into a more passive ecosystem, less interactive than it could be — more like watching television.

Synopsis: It’s a remarkable ecosystem that allows each of us to exercise control over our lives. But how much control do we truly have? How many of our decisions are really being made by Google and Facebook and Apple? And, perhaps most importantly: is the Internet’s true potential being squandered?

My review:  Mozilla believes the Internet is our largest global resource, a living ecosystem that billions of people depend on for knowledge, livelihood, self-expression and love. So is the Internet being ruined? Freakonomics’ Stephen Drubner doesn’t draw a conclusion, but this podcast does serve to raise the alarm.

Direct link to the episode.

11. Ctrl-Walt-Delete: Can Walt Mossberg rescue the Internet?

Every few years, the feds and the courts change direction or fail to answer important questions. And every day, the internet becomes more of a platform for lousy ads, for increasing the power of a few rich companies, and for intrusive tracking. It’s too important to leave unprotected.

Synopsis: Walt Mossberg proposes a plan to change how the internet is managed, regulated, and operated. He suggests that the US government should preserve the internet in a similar fashion to how natural resources are protected. He discusses what we need to change, and possible solutions for the problems politicians and major corporations are debatably only blocking.

My review: I was pretty taken with this conversation. Walt Mossberg is a respected, long-time journalist who has covered technology for decades. The fact that he’s believes the Internet is a threatened resource worthy of our protection encourages me. We at Mozilla believe that a healthy Internet — one that is private, inclusive, collaborative and open — is crucial for the world to thrive. As Mossberg notes, there is an infinite number of things that depend on it. So I leave you with this thought: If we don’t protect the Internet, who will?

Direct link to the episode.

19 comments on “11 podcast episodes about the Internet”

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  1. Mike W. wrote on

    How did you miss Security Now? One of the longest running podcasts with over 600 episodes and would fit this theme perfectly. Plus, Steve is an avoid Mozilla supporter. It should be #1 on your list.


    1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

      I’ll check it out. Thanks!


    2. Laura Tucker wrote on

      Did you mean “avid” Mozilla supporter?


  2. Jim Vandiver wrote on

    I’ve done a weekly blog (Media Mining Digest) of noteworthy podcast abstracts/links for over 5 years, that includes a link to a consolidated and alphabetical list of the audio files for free download, and a free 3-volume alphabetical list of over 14,000 abstracts with download links that’s updated quarterly. The blog intro has links to this stuff. The 3-vol set can be searched plus alphabetizing titles puts similar material in more accessible groupings.

    Liked your list. Found a couple new items to add to my list…




    1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

      Glad you enjoyed the list.


    2. jarry wrote on

      i’m a newbie. please share your list



  3. cncquest wrote on

    The pods are predominantly directed for the U.S audience. Mozilla is worldwide.


    1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

      Good point. Please share some suggestions for non-US podcasts about internet health issues.


  4. Christopher John Steyn wrote on

    The internet is toxic for women????!!!! Are you insanely delusional, do you know how much more abuse men get online that women… do your research please. It has been overwhelmingly proven that men suffer more abuse and aggression on-line than women. Personally I have received quite a few death threats and the extreme abuse vented against me for contradicting opinions is what it is for men. We do not have the power women have by harping, whining, whingeing, moaning and complaining about every little thing that happens to us,

    This idiocy of pandering to self-indulgent misandrist feminism is destroying common sense and is creating an environment and perpetrating discrimination against men. Especially online and now in wider society,


  5. Wes Chapman wrote on

    I’m deeply disappointed in the piece about the Internet being toxic for women…could it possibly have been any more polarized and one-sided? Wisconsin public radio brings us hard-core feminists who label anything and everything they don’t like as “sexist,” plus a feminist “vomit drama queen,” like Roxane whatshername!

    Such bias will only aggravate and perpetuate the gender wars, on-line and everywhere else in our culture.

    With schools, colleges and most workplaces now utterly dominated by feminist-driven rules, the Internet (was) the last remaining place for men to express their rage at women in general and feminists in particular. When one of the last male refuges–the gaming culture–was invaded by shrieking feminist harpies, what can you expect but male rage–and a tidal wave of harassment–in response?

    To improve the Internet for everyone, truly balanced dialog would help. More feminist doctrine won’t.


    1. squawk wrote on

      Honestly, I am tired of men like the one about always whining about women invading men’s spaces (which we don’t)—which is some total BS. The point is, sexism has always existed everywhere, and people simply brought their bias,issues and prejudices to the internet like they do everywhere else. And from what I’ve seen on the internet over the many years I’ve been on it, it’s usually men who are hostile toward anyone who admits to being either a woman or a person of color online, showing major hate, hostility, and blatant racism. On top of that, they have no qualms about invading women’s spaces or the spaces or people of color online and spewing their hate and sexist in brutal, nasty, disgusting ways. So the man above can just shut up whining about women do this and women do that. What sort of “rage” do men have at women? The fact that society and its definition of what men are has changed, and they can’t deal with that, as well as men not being on top as much as they used to—well, too bad. Times change and they have to change with it.too. This guy above sounds like he’s old and out of date anyway,whining about a “refuge” for men. Seeing that men still dominate virtually everything is society, I don’t know what the hell he’s whining about. His white male privilege obviously blinds him to that.


  6. kerry wrote on

    I’m a 73 year old woman retiree from Australia and have found your articles about podcasts profoundly interesting. Now I can walk around the house, doing boring housework listening to enlightened people from around the world and always learning new and important things. How good is it to discuss world news with grandchildren and have them listen to my ideas, thank you podcasts.


  7. Aeorsyn wrote on

    how is powerfulJRE not mentioned here, it’s the most downloaded podcast in the history of earth.


  8. Alan wrote on

    Not an interesting thing at all here.


  9. Eric Wiltsher wrote on

    Seriously, if they were the good ones I hate to think what the bad ones were like. As a broadcaster of many decades and one who encourages young people to join the media, I can assure I wouldn’t have wasted my time on reqeuesting approval to use them on our radio station. Dear oh dear.


    1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

      Feel free to make some recommendations for podcasts that touch on Internet health issues.


  10. K. Steel wrote on

    Very informative list of podcasts. Just a suggestion, have you thought about starting a podcast directory for those people who support Firefox/Mozilla?


  11. kenelisha wrote on

    love it


  12. David wrote on

    Honestly, how toxic is the internet for women, specifically? Like I would actually like to know. Because the internet is pretty toxic for anyone who disagreess with some community on the internet. Any popular twitter account with conservative viewpoints gets death threats all the time. Litterally google ‘twitter death threats’. I have also heard of some liberal accounts getting death threats from conservatives. There are all kinds of bad things on the internet, but do we want internet to be a safe space ( i.e. people are arrested for comments they make, or a higher power is erasing every negative thing they can find ) or do we want the internet to be an open and free place? If you don’t support the things that are happening to our internet freedom (its getting diminished), then what plan do you have to make the internet less toxic for women, while maintaining internet freedom?


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