The Digital Human-logo

The Digital Human


Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world

Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world


United Kingdom




Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world





Aleks Krotoski explores what it's like to be 'villain of the day' on social media. It seems every day an individual rightly or wrongly becomes the object of the online world's condemnation. What's that like and what motivates people to pile on? Are the criticisms always made in good faith or is there something more complex going on with what the critics are trying to signal. Producer: Peter McManus



Dr Charu Smita, a media researcher in Delhi explains how as the social contract between middle class Indians and the Government, to provide medical assistance, crumbled, people realised they'd need to mobilise to help save lives. Anirudh Deshmukh is a musician from Mumbai and when the second wave of Covid hit India and he saw the urgent tweets and posts from people searching for oxygen and hospital beds for loved ones he decided to do something about it. Using a combination of social media,...



Aleks Krotoski explores the impact of Sci-hub on science and the Open Access Movement.



Aleks Krotoski talks to the children of those lost to Qanon conspiracies. Many have sought support and advice in online forums where they exchange stories of estrangement and bereavement unable to prevent their parent falling further down the rabbit of outlandish plots, twisted ideas and political extremism. For many experts Qanon behaves like an authoritarian cult demanding total obedience to its ideas and anyone who can’t be converted are to be shunned. In an ironic twist on the classic...



Most banks, airlines even the military use legacy software because to replace it costs millions. Instead, as companies grow or change, old software is merged with new software. Aleks hears about ‘technical debt’, when software engineers who create original software code leave or move on, taking their expertise with them. Without proper knowledge of the old code, maintaining legacy software can become problematic and leave a company or organisation vulnerable to technical bugs. The damage...



Illustration by Seonaid MacKay The history of early cinema, radio, and television has suffered from a mass loss of material. Lon Chaney’s vampiric grin and Betty Balfour’s joyful dances were melted down for the silver. Canisters full of voices from radio’s early days cast aside. Doctor Who and Dad’s Army fans still scour basements and attics in the hope of finding episodes lost decades ago. When a new technology creates a new artform, we seem to make the same mistake - not seeing the value,...



In 2006 the creators of the alternate reality game, Perplex City set a puzzle challenge called Billion to One. With only one photograph and a first name players were tasked with using the internet to find out who the man was in the photo. Despite thousands of people looking for Satoshi he stayed hidden for 14 years until eventually, just before New Year in 2021 Tom Lucas in Germany used reverse image search and in under five minutes discovered who he was, where he lived, worked and how to...



Dreams have fascinated people since the dawn of humanity, seen as prophetic, used by the ancient Greeks to diagnose illness before physical symptoms appeared, and inspiring some of the world’s greatest inventions and works of art. But dreams have a darker side. Often we meet our internalised anxieties in our sleeping subconscious. During the Pandemic there was a surge of people reporting having more dreams, especially vivid, nightmarish visions - facing down swarms of insects, swept away by...



As we hunker down for the last period of lockdown novelty has never felt more absent from our lives. Aleks Krotoski explores its importance and asks if the digital world can actually provide it. Producer Peter McManus



Every time we seek treasure and eventually find, we get a hit of endorphins that tickles the happy parts of our brains. There are tales of extraordinary discoveries; King Tut’s tomb, The Mona Lisa, Viking gold. Incredible things that took ingenuity and dedication to uncover. Wouldn't it be remarkable to strike it lucky and find real treasure buried for hundreds or even thousands of years? Every rabbit hole we go down, every mystery we try to solve scratches that itch. It might be offline, or...



In the early days of the internet, trolls were nothing to fear. Comedians, tricksters, harmless pranksters ready to waste a little time or pounce on a typo. Some people enjoyed a bit of provocation to spark some spirited debate. You had flamers and griefers, but in general communities were good at booting out malicious actors, while leaving the trickers to their fun. But in 2021, things are very different. In the past, a random troll post on 4Chan would quickly sink into obscurity. Now, one...



Aleks Krotoski explores the power of toys and play in shaping our technological future. Apple's Tim Cook has said he began working on the smartwatch aged 5 after seeing the cartoon character Dick Tracy's wristwatch two way radio. So how much of our technological present has been prescribed by future visions of the past? Clearly many innovators imagination’s get fired up by childhood experiences but do they end up pursuing technologies that don’t actually solve the problems we’re facing? Or...



Since March this year - 2020 - venues have been black. Performers and live audiences are separated by COVID-19. Had it lasted a week, maybe two, things might not have changed. But as with the rest of our lives, technology has had to step in to give a lifeline to those who make their living from live performance. Aleks asks whether streaming online commodifies and commercialises artists and cultural scenes by turning what they do into just more online content? Or will streaming, together with...



The monsters we create have always given us insight into what we're scared of in the world around us. Whether that's zombies igniting fears around racial tensions in the United States of the nineteen sixties or Dracula articulating a fear of the other and of immigration at the end of nineteenth century. Aleks Krotoski asks what those monsters born in tech tell us about our fears today. Producer: Peter McManus



In Maori culture, images and objects or treasures can come to embody a person. However when the Maori were first confronted with portrait photography they initially responded by hiding from the camera, fearful that their 'mauri', or life force, would be lost. Professor Deidre Brown explains though how the Maori began to see the new medium as an effective method of embodying the 'wairua', or everlasting spirit, of a person. Robin Finn was very close to her mother, they spoke to each other...



There's a perception that it’s always daytime on the internet. What that misses is that it’s not always the case for us when we go there. We gravitate to different parts of the digital world during the night. We slow down without the bombardment of emails updates and notifications. We become explorers of soundscapes on meditation apps, we listen to soft, soothing mumblings on podcasts lulling us to sleep. For those digital night owls, it’s an Alice like experience falling through a labyrinth...



If there’s one thing that makes the world go ‘round, it’s trust - trust in institutions, trust in science, trust in the economy, trust in each other. Trust is what protects our vulnerability; it’s behind the unspoken social contracts that keep us safe. Without trust, we’re done. And since the beginning of our love-hate relationship with the Web, we’ve been wondering: is computer-mediated communication eroding trust? Or, does it make trust stronger? Or, are we more likely to misplace it more...



The digital world has given us the tools to support one another through the coming financial crisis in the wake of the pandemic. Aleks Krotoski asks if crowd funding is a magic bullet for giving to those whose livelihoods have suffered? And what makes us give in the first place if it’s, as many are reporting, a new form of economic survivor guilt do we risk that being manipulated? Producer: Peter McManus



Aleks Krotoski asks if moving our lives online has given us a false sense of normality during these extraordinary times. For those of us lucky enough to be able to work, shop and socialise there our connections to the digital world have been a lifeline, keeping us in touch with what normality is or at least was. If lockdown had happened 15 years ago it might have been a very different story. Aleks explores the experiences of people who used technology to try and feel normal to see where it...


5 minutes

Aleks Krotoski explores how the mechanics of the digital environment allow misinformation to swamp digital platforms. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, they are all swamped with cheery, colourful ‘life hack’ and crafting videos, but if you watch for more than a few minutes you’ll see that actually trying to follow along would prove difficult, if not impossible. Much of the content isn’t even possible to do. And yet, it’s extraordinarily popular, and profitable content. Clickbait isn’t new, but...