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episode 018: incognito sicko mode (ft. justine smith)

porn: pretty much all of us watch it or consume it in one form or another, and it takes up a measurable % of the entire internet, but what do we really know about how it's distributed and produced? here to help is pick apart the internet's largely Montreal-based pron oligarchy is film critic and occasional porn scripter Justine Smith. also maral is around for a bit. please don't play this one in front of the young'uns. song at the end: the move, "feel too good"


minisode 004: the woke, the horny, the sentient

we're working on a new shcedule of alternating full- and mini-sodes for the foreseeable future, so we hope you can adjust on this decidedly more frivolous outing, simon and rob have decided to offer a taxonomy and investigation into the current darkest corner of the entire god-forsaken internet: brand twitter. song at the end: ty segall, "the faker"


episode 017: the quadriga affair

maral, rob, and simon get in way over their heads in a special, nearly double-length discussion of a recent financial calamity and the conspiratorial murmurs that surround it. the HACKS initiative would very much like to apologize in advance for the fact that said discussion required us to explain bitcoin and the cryptocurrency space in detail, something we were hoping to avoid forever. we hope you'll find it was for a worthwhile cause. song at the end: john williams, theme from "the long...


episode 016: the algorithmic eldritch odyssey

the HACKS initiative blodly goes where no podcast has before: deep into the dark heart of The Algorithm. specifically, we're conducting a sadistic game/experiment to find out just how youtube ticks, following a rash of recent complaints about the service spitting out some rather strange (and notably conservative and conspiratorial) material seemingly unprompted. what we discovered........shook us to our core. song at the end: enh, we stole this from a qanon podcast who gives a shit? come get...


minisode 003: banderscratch n' sniff

it's the all-bro edition of HACKS, as maral and rosemary were both out of reach this week. so rob and simon decided to rewind to the hallowed days of several weeks ago to discuss the relative merits and import of Netflix's foray into interactive storytelling, BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH, aka "wot if your life was a game, mate?". song at the end: foxing, "gameshark"


episode 015: the 2020 holographic apology tour

we decided that a regular prediction episode was too normal and boring and played out so we tried a different thing and we promise not to do it again next year, also we're back, also we're very sorry for this song at the end: suuns, "2020"


episode 014: islands in the stream

in our last proper show of 2018, the gang (sadly maral-less) ponders just what the music and film/TV streaming economy has done to both creatives and consumers. in contention: algorthmic storytelling, the merist of Netflix's Hill House, whether the tracks at the end of a 25-track Drake album are markedly worse than those at the beginning. song at the end: gruff rhys, "slashed wrists this christmas"


episode 013: you news, you lose

after a new raft of high-profile site closures, the HACKS Institute gang, properly reassembled at last, ponders the current state of journalism On The Internet, including a recent, apparently failed attempt to bring journalism to the (shudder) blockchain, the fate of the "pivot to video" movement, and what the story of Gawker tells us about our current moment. also peter thiel is a literal bloodsucker who can fall in a rank ditch tbh. also also please enjoy the hilda cameo song at the end:...


episode 012: hq2 pt. ii — the search for shatner

a big news week demands a supersized episode, so the hacks reassemble (once again missing Rosemary, present only in digital spirit form) to properly tackle the bidding process for Amazon's HQ2, which this past week set its final "winning" locations as long island, virginia, as well as an extra facility in nashville. what does this expensive campaigning process mean for public-private relations in our highly neoliberalized present? which city debased themselves the most, to noo particular...


episode 011: 23andme and you and everyone we know

we are sadly rosemaryless this week, but we're still excited to finally tackle one of the most annoying and pervasive subjects of the modern era: that's right, it's race science baby!! well, specifically, we're taking a look at 23andme and other ancestry websites and services designed to tell you who you REALLY are. what are these companies really selling, and what are they doing with all this danged data? all this and more! song at the end: tindersticks, "blood"


episode 010: future's so right I gotta wear shades

the rise of neo-fascist Bolsonaro in Brazil prompted a new wave of relection on the role of major social media apps and networks in aiding and abetting the last few years of reactionary political movements around the world. to what extent is technology itself wagging the dog on this issue? the whole gang is here to try to parse it out, along with pondering how opposing sides of the political spectrum use these tools differently. song at the end: arizona dranes, "lamb's blood has washed me...


minisode 002: betrayed in the hexagon (sidewalk labs pt ii)

we decided to take a quick return to sidewalk labs (aka alphabet aka google) and their attempt to transform a chunk of toronto's aterfront into the "city of the future." turns out that's also the name of their podcast, which rob and rosemary bravely tuned into....and emerged changed people. we also talk about the new measures they've announced to help with data governance, as well as a round of high-profile resignations from their tech advisory board. song at the end: anika, "in the city"


episode 009: blaze it pal, the weed episode 420 hell yeah bro

bro!!!! have you heard that pot is legal in canada??? we ponder the rollout and the ramifications, before moving onto our main topic: the still-illegal drugs! specifically, we dive into microdosing in tech and its class dimensions, as well as the broader phenomenon of "consciousness hacking" among the CEO class. and some more things. song at the end: jolie holland, "old fashion morphine"


episode 008: lightweight jammin'

using a silly McDonald's prank as our starting point, the hacks ensemble goes off on a lot of freewheeling tangents concerning the somehow-still-running "culture jamming" outlet Adbusters, the alt-right, incels, what it means to try to effect change on the internet or IRL, and how mad can simon get at the west coast?? the song at the end is Tropical Fuck Storm, "The Happiest Guy Around"


episode 007: a touch too much

the gang is all back, and with a topic we have not even remotely touched on before: sex! sex! sex! in the first (and briefer) segment, we spend a little time pondering the vagaries of the internet pr0n industry and its resurgent role in the montreal economy, then move onto the main event: rob has assembled a huge lineup of "niche" dating apps. listen to us review this lineup with a mix of amusement and horror. song at the end: NoMeansNo, "Sex Mad"


minisode 001: eine klein nachtmusik

We didn't have time to do a full court press this week, so a slightly diminished gang quickly assembled to dive deep on a narrowed topic (or at least that was the plan). On our first "minisode", Rob, Simon and Rosemary tackle the polite centrism of Ezra Klein and the "solutionism" a specific tweet of his describes. We touch on labour laws/organizing, Nike's image rehabilitation, union busting, and more.


episode 006: rehash power

blame simon the birthday bitch, as well as a wide variety of behind-the-scenes recording issues, for the late appearance this week. after our traumatically maral-less outing last week, the gang reassembles properly for a free-flowing conversation about the ecological impacts of disruptive technologies, the decline of the species, and other super-fun topics. this was a nightmare to edit so you dross all better enjoy it. music: com truise


episode 005: disorder of the triad

with the hacks shorthanded for the first time, they decide to once again go after low-hanging fruit in search of sweet, sweet #content - this time by investing a trio of embattled tech giants. Rosemary brings us the tale of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, Rob braves the entire Joe Rogan/Elon Musk encounter (and emerges a changed man), while Simon chronicles the (alleged) crimes of antivirus pioneer and Libertarian presidential hopeful John Mcafee. and then we try to decide what, if anything,...


episode 004: cops and LAN go hand in hand

here at the HACKS initiative, if there's one thing we love, it's our cops (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiHftejWSvU)! but sometimes they do things that freak us out a bit, like when they adopt "pre-crime" measures and surveil us without our knowledge or consent. we take a quick look at two new-ish technologies that aim to do both of those things, as well as diving into the recent controversy that struck the open source dev community when some developers took issue with Microsoft's...


episode 003: shade runner 2018

in the first HACKS initiative field report, simon and rosemary go to a public consultation for Sidewalk Labs, Google/Alpahbet's "smart city" project for toronto's quayside area. this leads us to ponder the value and meaning of "smart cities" in general. in another topic we're sure to revisit, we also take stock of Amazon's campaign to make every major (and not so major) city in north america debase itself in the hopes of becoming the home of their second headquarters, or as you may know it,...