Latest

Q&A

'Poor residents get all the acoustical trash'

Epidemiologist Erica Walker looks at the impact of unwanted sound on communities from a public health perspective.

What noise is doing to our brains

Nina Kraus talks about her new book, Of Sound Mind, and reflects on the impact of our contemporary, technologically-infused sonic world.
Q&A

Jeanette Winterson envisions a post-material future in latest book of essays

The celebrated writer discusses her recent book of essays, 12 Bytes, and shares her vision of possible AI futures.
LISTEN

Social media platforms 'benefit from the intersections of racism and capitalism'

From cultural appropriation to commodified trauma, Black creators and consumers of digital media are increasingly forced to confront a variety of unique challenges on social media platforms.

Canada's laws need updating to protect against abuse from surveillance tech, watchdog says

A look at the far future and nitty gritty present of artificial intelligence and what it might mean for how we relate to one another and the non-human entities that will —and increasingly do— surround us.

YouTube videos an 'important cultural artifact' of our life, says researcher

YouTube has all but a monopoly on online video. What would happen if it were to disappear entirely?

Something's rotten in the state of the internet, and archivists are worried

How do we preserve 'the record' when web pages get taken down, reassigned, or simply disappear?
NEXT BIG THING

What will home look like in 2050?

An urban planner, an architect and a museum director discuss the changing idea of "home" and what that might look like five decades from now.

Since the 60s, countercultures have subverted mainstream tech to connect and build community

From the Whole Earth Catalogue to Facebook drag queens: a short history of online counterculture.

How tech can help build a more sustainable fashion future

Our digital tech both facilitates and mitigates waste in the garment industry. But can the technology that ramped up global fashion production also help us build a more sustainable fashion future?
SPECIAL

The Spark Guide to Civilization

Each episode in this 10-part series is a deep dive into a single issue in society and how we've managed it over the course of civilization, through technological innovation and design.
CIVILIZATION

How the invention of the lens helped us see the world more clearly

The glass lens has allowed us to correct our vision, see the furthest objects in the sky, and the smallest objects on the Earth. Oh, and there's photography and film as well.
CIVILIZATION

Why we became more nostalgic during the pandemic

In times of crisis, it seems baked into our humanity to turn to retro and analog activities as a way to cope. Why is cultural nostalgia so often a reaction to the present time?
CIVILIZATION

We're trapped in an upgrade cycle whether we like it or not

The origins of planned obsolescence, and the ethics of creating disposable devices in a future of scarcity and climate change.
CIVILIZATION

It wasn't just you - the pandemic really did make it hard to focus on anything

Humans have always worried about dwindling attention spans and loss of focus. So why does it feel so extra in the digital age?
CIVILIZATION

Individual privacy is a relatively recent idea in human history

The notion of privacy has evolved over thousands of years and is tightly woven with power. What might that mean for our future?
CIVILIZATION

Waking up in the middle of the night? Thank your pre-industrial ancestors

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! Everybody sleeps. But how has the way we sleep evolved with the technology we've developed?
CIVILIZATION

How the pandemic put building design and ventilation back into the public health conversation

What the historical relationship between public health and public spaces can teach us as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
CIVILIZATION

Planning the future of transportation? Think sustainability, social equity, experts say 

How tech from the wheel to just-in-time delivery architecture changed the way humans have been able to move, expand their horizons and shrink their world.
CIVILIZATION

Fifty years of email, the correspondence we love to hate

From hieroglyphs to instant messaging, humans have been attempting to perfect the way we correspond with one another. And still, we love to hate to email.
CIVILIZATION

Computer chips that mimic the brain may be the next big thing in computing

The history of computing laid the groundwork for today's innovations, such as using the brain as a model for computing.

The case for (and against) vaccine passports

Vaccine passports need to be uniform, simple, and not contain extraneous private information, says expert.

Pandemic presents opportunity to rethink our cities for tourism and living, says urban designer

Using big data to rethink urban tourism in cities strained by overtourism like Venice.

YouTube videos an 'important cultural artifact' of our life, says researcher

YouTube has all but a monopoly on online video. What would happen if it were to disappear entirely?

Something's rotten in the state of the internet, and archivists are worried

How do we preserve 'the record' when web pages get taken down, reassigned, or simply disappear?

now