Summary: Meet Manoush and Jen, founders of Stable Genius Productions. They’re documenting the process of starting a media company while trying not to simultaneously become bad mothers, bankrupt themselves, or destroy their wonderful creative partnership. And when their first funding comes in the form of cryptocurrency, things get really interesting. ZigZag is a meta-mix of voice memos, taped conversations, come-to-Jesus moments, and mini-stories about entrepreneurship, deciding how to align your values with your ambitions, and building strong partnerships.
Question: what SPARKS us to *act *on an idea, rather than let it fade away? Answer: an "Innovation Trigger," also known as Phase 1 of the Hype Cycle. Hear listeners detail what triggered them to pursue a project, more from Gartner analyst Jackie Fenn, and how a hydroelectric dam prompted one small town to start manufacturing Bitcoin, for better and worse. All this season, we're exploring the lifecycle of ideas, including a visit to a town by the Canadian border where one of the biggest Bitcoin mining operations in the world is ramping up, and some claim crypto can save a community in financial ruin. Tell us what's going on in your life and where YOU are on the Hype Cycle right now: record a voice memo and send it to [ZigZag@StableG.com](firstname.lastname@example.org). **Also, our email newsletter is a must read. **Sign up for a bi-weekly letter from Manoush with links to her favorite articles and podcasts, a look behind-the-scenes at Stable Genius Productions, and upcoming events. (For example, our guest Jackie Fenn wrote a novel about a programmer whose algorithm goes rogue!) Who You’ll Hear: (@jackiefenn) Jackie Fenn, Senior Analyst at Gartner, (@manoushz) Manoush Zomorodi, host of ZigZag (@tkbeaty) Thalia Beaty, producer of ZigZag
You may *feel *like a special snowflake, but even our best ideas usually take a predictable path: they'll pass through the 5 Phases of the Hype Cycle. Tech analyst Jackie Fenn created this iconic graph (see below) 25 years ago, and it's been used to track innovations (yes, like blockchain) ever since. But the Hype Cycle isn't just for tech: understanding it can help you decide when to press ahead with a job, relationship, or New Year's resolution... or cut your losses and move on. All this season, we're exploring the lifecycle of ideas, including a visit to a town by the Canadian border where one of the biggest Bitcoin mining operations in the world is ramping up, and some claim crypto can save a community in financial ruin. Tell us what's going on in your life and where YOU are on the Hype Cycle right now: record a voice memo and send it to [ZigZag@StableG.com](email@example.com). **Also, our email newsletter is a must read. **Sign up for a bi-weekly letter from Manoush with links to her favorite articles and podcasts, a look behind-the-scenes at Stable Genius Productions, and upcoming events. (For example, our guest Jackie Fenn wrote a novel about a programmer whose algorithm goes rogue!) Who You’ll Hear: (@jackiefenn) Jackie Fenn, Senior Analyst at Gartner, (@manoushz) Manoush Zomorodi, host of ZigZag
The co-founders of Stable Genius Productions have a candid conversation about their current financial situation (hint: their grant is running out soon), the highs/lows of making this season of the podcast (another hint: they had a fallout over email), and Civil's plans to resurrect itself in 2019 (final hint: the token lives on). GO DEEPER: Blockchain has not yet added value to international development projects, USAID finds. After mindfulness, tech takes on information overload, Manoush's forecast for Neiman Lab. Indiewire calls Season 2 Episode 2, one of the best podcast episodes of 2018! Radiotopia reaches 25,000 new contributors! WHO YOU’LL HEAR: @manoushz (Manoush Zomorodi, host of ZigZag and cofounder of Stable Genius Productions), @jpoyant (Jen Poyant, producer of ZigZag and cofounder of Stable Genius Productions) MANOUSH'S TOP 10 READS OF 2018: **10. Empress of Facebook: My Befuddling Dinner with Sheryl Sandberg (WIRED) 9. Lena Dunham Comes to Terms with Herself (The Cut) 8. A Guide to Worrying in the 21st Century (Bill Gates) 7. Barcelona's Experiment in Radical Democracy (New Yorker) 6. Cryptopia in Crisis: Joe Lubin's Ethereum is a Mess (Forbes) 5. The Gift of Menopause (NYTimes) -TIE- **Jennalee (Popula) 4. The Devastating Illusion of Control (The Cut) 3. The Plastic Backlash: What's Behind Our Sudden Rage- and Will It Make a Difference? (The Guardian) 2. Estranged in America: Both Sides Feel Left Out (NYTimes) 1. The Prophets of Cryptocurrency Survey the Boom and Bust (New Yorker)
The richest 1 percent of the world's population now owns more than half of the world's wealth. The calls for breaking up Big Tech companies are growing louder. On this episode, the author of Open Revolution, Rufus Pollock, proposes a solution (think regulation, but on steroids) for wrangling monopolies, sparking innovation, and getting profits into the hands of more people. GO DEEPER: "What the California Wildfires Can Teach Us About Data Sharing," Joi Ito writes in Wired. An old monopoly story: the Hush-a-Phone vs AT&T debacle from Atlas Obscura. And a new one: Infinite choices, few distributors in the digital economy from The Open Markets Institute. And the Senate Intelligence Committee's two reports on news manipulation on social media: The Disinformation Report and The Internet Research Agency and Political Polarization in the US. Who You’ll Hear: @manoushz (Manoush Zomorodi, host of @zigzagpod and cofounder of Stable Genius Productions), @rufuspollock (Rufus Pollock, author of The Open Revolution)
Journalists-turned-entrepreneurs Mark Little and Áine Kerr believe the experience of getting news online is broken. (And they should know: Mark worked at Twitter and Áine at Facebook.) So, they're building an app called Kinzen which they hope can reboot our daily news habit by delivering trustworthy journalism without overwhelming us. Afterall, they reason, we have apps to track our sleep, steps, and calories... Why not news consumption? But can there really be an app for that? GO DEEPER: You can sign up to help develop Kinzen. An ode to Tumblr after it bans NSFW content. Look up which location data those free Android apps collect from phones (and read the New York Times investigation). Blockchain hits the "trough of disillusionment." ConsenSys, the backer of Civil, cuts 13 percent of its staff. Forbes asks: will the crypto bear market take down Ethereum? Twitter gives us crypto Christmas carols. WHO YOU’LL HEAR: Manoush Zomorodi, cofounder of Stable Genius Productions and host of ZigZag Podcast (@manoushz), Mark Little, cofounder of Kinzen (@marklittlenews) Aine Kerr, cofounder of Kinzen (@AineKerr)
It's been an extraordinarily weird year. This mini episode compresses Manoush and Jen's story so far into a strange mash-up of voice memos that documents their leap from public radio producers to audio entrepreneurs (who often are very stressed and seem to rarely sleep). Think of it as an audio thank you note for being on this ZigZag ride. We're so glad you're here with us. We hope you'll also consider supporting Radiotopia, the podcast collective that helps make ZigZag possible. Go to radiotopia.fm where you can choose from an unusual array of donation gifts (including an outing to the Stable Genius' favorite bar).
Julia Angwin, the award-winning reporter whose investigations make Facebook sweat, just got $20 million from Craig Newmark (yes, as in Craig's List) to start her own publication. Hear her vision for The MarkUp, why we need a new kind of watchdog journalism, and how she plans to combine hardcore data analysis with shoe-leather reporting. Plus, the honest lowdown on how Julia beats decision fatigue, as a startup founder and a parent. It's not all black turtlenecks and green smoothies, but it's close. GO DEEPER: Julia Angwin's investigations for ProPublic. Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism. Looking back at Craig's List. Jessica Lessin left the Wall Street Journal five years ago to found The Information. Closing Rookie: hard truths about digital media from teenage entrepreneur Tavi Gevinson. Who You’ll Hear: @manoushz (Manoush Zomorodi) @JuliaAngwin (Investigative journalist and Cofounder of The MarkUp)
CRIMINAL was a mega-hit long before the genre of true-crime took off in podcasting. On this episode, Manoush and Jen talk to the show's co-creators, Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, about quitting their stable public radio jobs to start a company (sound familiar?), managing each other's quirks, and saying 'no' to the many business opportunities that come their way. This duo has great advice for anyone trying to manage a partnership, balance creativity with bill paying, or just stay to one's weirdo self. GO DEEPER: A deep dive into the messy relationship between true crime podcasts and justice. How Phoebe and Lauren get it done from Raleigh's The New & Observer. The New Yorker article on the new golden age of podcast storytelling. Guy Raz's mega-entrepreneur podcast in the New York Times. The Future of Voice and the Implications for News from Reuters. It's a bear market for some podcast shops. More acronyms: PRX (of which Radiotopia is a branch) merges with PRI (think The World). Help someone discover the joy of listening by sharing Gretchen Rubin's free Gift of Podcast instructions. Btw, the SEC has a new guide to ICOs. And Crypto is crashing. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@Manoushz), Jen Poyant (@jpoyant), Phoebe Judge co-creator and host of Criminal (@PhoebeVJudge), Lauren Spohrer cocreator of Criminal (@laurenspohrer)
This week, we explain how the ZigZag inbox works and Manoush answers two very special letters: one from a listener with an unusual financial frustration and another who has an existential entrepreneurial query. Because in the daily cacophony of signals, email sometimes shines through as a place to get the news and information we want from people and sources we trust. GO DEEPER: A study about our email habits finds half of us achieve in-box zero. The SEC says tokens are securities (we think). That unnerving New York Times expose about how Facebook handles crises. Manoush was in GQ talking about the importance of boredom. How about a Fair Credit Reporting Act to make platforms more accountable? The BBC's look at how (and why) people in India, Kenya, and Nigeria interact with fake news. Another journalism experiment with a radical membership engagement model: The Correspondent. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi @manoushz and ZigZag listeners!
Can you scrub the truth from the web? Or will people always find a workaround? An extraordinary tale this week about the intersection of new tech, personal stories, human rights, and repressive regimes. Plus, producer Thalia Beaty explains how governments around the world use digital tools to censor and surveil journalists and their citizens. GO DEEPER: New Yorker writer Jiayang Fan's article, China's #MeToo Moment. The testimony nestled in an Ethereum transaction. How Civil plans to repurpose the Chinese blockchain hack as an archiving solution. No more anonymity for blockchain in China? Producer Thalia Beaty explains her reporting on Syria for Storyful. Citizen Lab shows how images get censored on WeChat. India cut the internet the most times of any country last year. Why Russia has struggled to block access to Telegram. Will Google offer censored search in China? **Who You’ll Hear: ** Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jiayang Fan Staff Writer at The New Yorker (@JiayangFan) Thalia Beaty journalist (@tkbeaty) CREDITS: Thalia Beaty, Producer David Herman, Audio Engineer and Composer Dan Dzula, Audio Engineer ZigZag comes from Stable Genius Productions, in* partnership with Civil. We are proud members of Radiotopia, from PRX.* Keep the podcast going with your donation. And thank you!
Meat world, real life, 'social infrastucture'...whatever you want to call it, human contact with our neighbors is crucial to mending divided communities, according to sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People. On this episode, Eric issues a passionate plea for more investment in libraries, public squares and other places where people can quite literally meet on common ground. Jen does her own reporting about the 'social infrastructure' that she believes kept her community together through natural disaster: the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach. GO DEEPER: Eric Klinenberg's op-ed: To Restore Civil Society, Start with the Library. Voters approved a tax on San Francisco businesses to help the homeless. Newark wonders if its beat-up downtown can thrive without getting pummeled by gentrification. Is Paul Allen to Seattle what Carnegie was to Pittsburgh? New York City's water communities, as captured by Jen's friend, photographer Susannah Ray. Back online, a 'Magna Carta for the Web' is the only way to save it, says its inventor. WHO YOU”LL HEAR: Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) (Eric Klenenberg (@ericklinenberg)
This week's episode is focused on a very specialized job in journalism: the Fact-Checker. Our guide is journalism's OG of information verification, Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Adair. He explains the origins, methodology, and challenges of fact-checking in a "post-truth" world. Plus, how journalists are partnering with technologists to build tools that they hope can make the very word "fact" less politically charged. GO DEEPER: Post-truth politics and why the antidote isn't just fact-checking. Platforms driving users to misinformation. There's such a thing as fake fact-checkers. Fact-checkers going OT in Brazil. Google is working on a fact-checking search engine. Fact-checking is on Broadway. How Facebook is downplaying false headlines. Why this journalist fell for this fake video. *Who You’ll Hear: * Manoush Zomorodi (@manoush) Bill Adair @BillAdairDuke
Hear from three entrepreneurs (Jen, Manoush, and Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles) on how each is coping with uncertainty, deciding how to grow, and bouncing back when things go...well, badly, like that token sale you heard about in the previous episode. Because ZigZag listeners are emailing a lot about going through their own entrepreneurial growing pains. And they're grateful for the raw honesty about being a businessperson: "I appreciate so much that you don't know what you're doing." "It's such a daily struggle to figure out how to be sustainable and not sell your soul." "Thanks for sharing the stuff that is uncomfortable. Or unpleasant." **GO DEEPER: **That funny Breaker article on Civil's failed token sale. A public radio insider's analysis of Civil and community media. The 10 Best Books on productivity? What does a fair algorithm actually look like? Uber, Google, Facebook: Your experiments have gone too far. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Matthew Iles @matthewiles
Civil couldn't convince enough people that blockchain and crypto-economics were the answer to journalism’s problems. It didn't even come close to its $8m goal. But, #failure is common in the tech world. And so are pivots. On this episode, Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles acknowledges the screw-ups and explains why the company is still solvent. Plus, the second half of our Twitter and 'misinformation' explainer with research from the Knight Foundation. Can you, lawmakers, or Twitter do anything to stop the falsehoods from flowing? Yes, actually. GO DEEPER: The Knight Foundation's report on Misinformation and Twitter includes unusual and beautiful mapping of tweets. Twitter plans to ban 'dehumanizing speech' and measure 'conversational health'. Civil's mea culpa and Nieman Lab's analysis of the token-sale failure. In his TED talk, sociologist Duncan Watts explains why common sense doesn't apply in the digital world. Learning from the Civic Tech graveyard. The New Yorker's excellent feature on the weird world of crypto. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Vlad Barash Matthew Iles (@matthewiles)
Manoush and Jen kick off the season with surprising new research from the Knight Foundation into how false information spreads on Twitter and its effect on society. They also have news about Civil, the blockchain startup for journalism, which is struggling to sell $8m worth of its cryptocurrency. With only days left in the token sale, techie journalist (and former WNYC colleague) John Keefe joins the duo to share his experience buying CVL tokens and where he thinks the startup went wrong. **GO DEEPER: **The Knight Foundation’s report Disinformation, ‘Fake News,’ and Influence Campaigns on Twitter. Here are the Civil token sale stats. Forbes announced it will publish on Civil. Coincidentally (no, really) Jen and Manoush were profiled in Forbes. John Keefe went through 44 steps to buy CVL tokens. The links between trust, media, and democracy. CanThe Trust Project standardize a seal of ethical journalism? Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Matt Hindman (@Matt Hindman) Sam Gill (@thesamgill) Vladimir Barash (@vlad43210) John Keefe @jkeefe