Digital Human

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Aleks Krotoski asks not just what technology can do for us but also what is it doing to us and the world we're creating? Each week she takes us on a journey to where people are living their digital lives to explore how technology touches everything we do both on and offline.

Taking broad themes of modern living as a starting point she charts the experiences of homo digitas; both the remarkable and the mundane, to understand how we are changing just as quickly as the advances in our technology.

What does the deluge of images from digital photography mean for our memory when every second is being recorded, edited and posted online for posterity? Are the identities we create in social media no more than exercises in personal branding, to be managed and protected like any other product? And as traditional churches struggle to leverage technology to spread their faith do the behaviours we all display online have more in common with religion than rationality?

The time for wonder at the digital world is over, we live with it in every day. The question really is who are we now because of it?

In a new series, Aleks Krotoski takes a journey through the digital world.

0102Control20120507

is one of the big attractions of living in the digital world, we only post the best pictures of ourselves enjoying the best parts of our lives. But does that mean we start to treat our lives more like a brand, to be sold to our friends and protected from anything negative?

Aleks Krotoski talks to Sherry Turkle director of MIT's Initiative on Technology and the Self to ask if this could cause us problems. She'll also find out what happens when you give up control of your online life or have it taken over.

Contributors:

Aidan Moffat

www.aidanmoffat.co.uk

@AidanJohnMoffat

Sherry Turkle

www.alonetogetherbook.com

@STurkle

David White

www.conted.ox.ac.uk/davidwhite

@daveowhite

Charlie McDonnell

www.youtube.com/user/charlieissocoollike

@coollike

Andy Zaltzman

www.andyzaltzman.co.uk/

@hellobuglers

Control is one of the big attractions of living in the digital world, we only post the best pictures of ourselves enjoying the best parts of our lives. But does that mean we start to treat our lives more like a brand, to be sold to our friends and protected from anything negative? Aleks Krotoski talks to Sherry Turkle director of MIT's Initiative on Technology and the Self to ask if this could cause us problems. She'll also find out what happens when you give up control of your online life or have it taken over.

Is control over one's digital life an illusion? And what happens if control is lost?

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010420120521

In this weeks edition of The Digital Human Aleks looks at what we beleive and why. With a search for God throwing up nearly 2billion hits the claims that the internet would be death of religion seem a little hollow. So why does our web search for answers bring some people to god and turn others away? And why do we invest such faith in the answer we find online anyway? Aleks will look at technology as a force multiplier for religions and discover if we ever need to go to church again to practice a faith.

0105Crush20120528

Join Aleks Krotoski as she explores love in the digital world. Can love be love when we're deprived of the sensory connections of face-to-face interaction? Love online doesn't need to be as wayward or incidental as it is in real life. In fact, Aleks will be hearing from those who think that love in the digital age leads to far deeper connections than we might imagine.

010620120604
0107 LAST20120611
020120121001

Aleks Krotoski returns with a new series of explorations of our digtial world.

In the first in the series Aleks looks at how different cultures are preserving their identity in the face of the homogenising effects of technology.

There's a fear that the digital world will make us all the same. But that doesn't seem that well founded if you look at how widely differing cultures are using technology to express their identity and values. We look at the music sharing culture of Mali in West Africa as explored by musicologist Chris Kirkley and hear from the vibrant and intoxicating atmosphere of the mobile phone music market in Mali's capital Bamako. Back in the UK we look at the interesting way immigrant communities maintain their cultural ties through technology and the unexpected effect this has on the growth of immigrant communities.

Aleks also talks to explorer in residence Robin Hanbury-tenison about his thoughts on how technology might be undermining cultures. Does he see the spread of digital as a new form of cultural imperialism?

Producer Peter McManus

Other areas of the digital world to be explored in this series include:

How opinion and influence spread in a digital world

What all this new technology means for how we learn?

Do we always know what technology is for and ultimately what it wants?

Has the digital world changed our perceptions and discussions of death?

0202Influence20121008

How has the digital world changed the way opinions are voiced and shaped?

020320121015

Aleks speaks to Grandmaster of memory, Ed Cooke who thinks memory is going out of fashion because of our reliance on digital devices.

Mastermind champion and London cabbie Fred Housego explains how he relies on 'The Knowledge' to navigate London but relies on his wife's short term memory to remember dates for engagements, shopping lists, phone numbers. Psychologist Betsy Sparrow explains that this is known as transactive memory and it's exactly what we are doing with our digital devices. Cyborg Anthropologist, Amber Chase explains that in the past we had physical extensions of ourselves, for example with tools, but we now have mental extensions of ourselves, with our digital devices acting as externalised brains, changing our sense of self.

Aleks discovers that the way we remember is not only changing our perceptions of self but challenging the very concept of intelligence. Aleks hears that the smart kid of the past memorized lots of data but the smart kid of the future will know how to navigate the system and how to understand concepts. This is exactly what 15 year old US high school pupil, Jack Andraka did when he discovered a new test for pancreatic cancer using the internet. With little background knowledge and armed only with what he knew from biology classes he scoured the web for papers that helped him make connections that will potentially save thousands of lives.

The way we use our memory is changing but as Psychologist Betsy Sparrow explains we are only responding to our surroundings and evolving as we always have.

Producer: Kate Bissell.

0204Intent20121022

Aleks Krotoski looks at whether we've all become techno-fundamentalists. Do we know what all our technology is for or more intriguingly what it wants?

Aleks hears from Douglas Rushkoff about how the whole of the world around us has always been programmed by architects, religion, and politics. But it's something we seem to have forgotten about technology itself.

Tom Chatfield discusses how the biases of technology (the things it naturally tends towards or is best at) interplay with human nature to turn much of our interaction with technology into some sort of perverse game.

But some of these biases like the end use of technology only emerge once people start to use it. Kevin Kelly is one of the world's most respected commentators on technology he believes that the biases of all our technology put together start to combine so that it behave very much like an organism. His provocative theories are detailed in his book What does Technology want?

We explore these theories by discussing our biggest technologies; the city and whether the latest innovations aiming to make our city's smarter and more sustainable hint at a better future relationship with the world of technology.

0205Tales2012102920150930 (R4)

Aleks Krotoski looks at whether how we tell stories has changed with the digital world. And it looks like it has much more to do with our distant past that we might think.

She begins by looking at the online phenomena of the Slender Man a supernatural figure that's been appearing in pictures, blogs and YouTube movies since 2009 and is described as the first great myth of the web.

Aleks speaks to AS Byatt to understand what story is for before examining how modern online storytelling bears a striking resemblance to oral traditions of medieval times. To see this in action she explores the growth of the Slender Man myth and how its community based evolution mimics how legends grew in the past.

But for many of these stories they still don't make the most of what the digital world has to offer storytellers. For this Aleks turns to Alison Norrington one of the world's leading proponents of trans-media stories.

Aleks speaks to AS Byatt to understand what story is for before examining how modern online storytelling bears a striking resemblance to oral traditions of mediaeval times. To see this in action she explores the growth of the Slender Man myth and how its community based evolution mimics how legends grew in the past.

020620121105

Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world. In today's programme have we all become cyborgs without even knowing it?

We've always extended our human bodies ever since we first picked up rocks or sticks as tools, it's part of human nature. So are the digital tools of today any different? Aleks asks just how far we've come and are willing to go to become one with our technology and become cyborg.

Aleks hears from film maker Rob Spence better known as Eyeborg about the reaction he gets to the camera he has where his right eye used to be. It's a different type of eye artist and composer Neil Harbisson uses, born entirely colour blind Neil uses an electronic eye on an antenna attached to his skull to hear colours it's now such a part of how Neil perceives the world that he hears the colours in his dreams!

Brandy Ellis is a very different type of cyborg; having suffered from depression for years she opted to have electronics implanted in her brain to control her symptoms. Her feelings are literally regulated by a machine.

Ultimately Aleks finds out from anthropologist Amber Case how we're all every bit as cyborg as Rob, Neil or Brandy in how we coexist symbiotically with our digital devices.

0207 LASTLast Word2012111220151007 (R4)

At the Digital Death Day Aleks meets with Vered Shavit from Israel who having dealt with her late brother's digital legacy set up a website called Digital Dust to help others going through the same experience.

Hearing Vered's story Alek's asks how are we using the web to adapt the rituals that we have used for centuries to help us transition between the living and the dead?

Aleks discovers that since Vered's brother's death people continue to communicate with him through his Facebook profile. Dr Elaine Kasket a Counselling Psychologist who practices psychotherapy with the bereaved likens Facebook to a modern day medium. She also explains how Facebook is enabling people to continue bonds with the deceased.

The distinction between our physical selves and mental states is a philosophical construction, but it signifies a line in the sand between those who believe our bodies make us human and those who define humanity by our thoughts and social lives. But without a body do we through our presence on the web continue to be human?

The distinction between our physical selves and mental states is a philosophical construction, but it signifies a line in the sand between those who believe our bodies make us human and those who define humanity by our thoughts and social lives. But after our death can our persisting digital selves continue our presence for those left behind?

Produced by Kate Bissell.

0301Mischief20130401

Aleks Krotoski returns with a new series exploring our lives in a digital age and on April Fool's day she explores whether mischief is an essential part of the online world. Mischief performs many functions in our society; the individual can use it to find their place in the world, while the group might use it to bring people inside and bond with them. It can also level the playing field between the powerful and powerless. And there's never been a greater engine of mischief than the internet. Aleks hears first from writers Tim Wright and Rob Bevan. Like all writers, procrastination and distraction are constant companions but if your speciality is digital storytelling, the temptation to play tricks can be irresistible. When Tim decided to construct a hoax for Rob, little did he know just how consuming it would become and how it would affect how they go about storytelling. We also hear from US history professor T Mills Kelly about his course 'Lying about the Past' where he prepares his students for sifting through all the historical mischief making online. Lewis Hyde is a respected author whose titles include Trickster Makes This World or How The Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture. He explains the role of the trickster in myth and legend and what we can learn from these figures about the evolution of the digital world.Throughout the programme Aleks will also hear from psychiatrist turned stand-up comedian Taylor Glenn about what's like to be a professional mischief maker and how her background gives her a unique perspective on the pranks people play. Looking ahead in the series, Aleks will be looking at subjects such as isolation in a digital world and asks can you ever really disappear now? Producers for ep 1: Victoria McArthur and Peter McManus.

0302Engagement20130408

Aleks Krotoski looks at what the designers of our digital worlds can learn from those with an intuitive grasp of what engages us. Increasingly digital technology is reaching out from behind the screen to meet us in the real world. Aleks explores the techniques old and new for engaging us. Follow and join the conversation on Twitter with #digihuman and find even more background on http://thedigitalhuman.tumblr.com/. In the programme Aleks hears from roller coaster designers - preparing us to be terrified before we even step on the ride and fragrance designers - engineering our behaviour without us even realising it and games builders using sound alone to make gameplay an entirely physical experience. Aleks also discovers what can be learnt from the great showmen of the past when she speaks to Terry Castle daughter of the horror move director and king of the gimmick William Castle. Producer: Peter McManus.

0303Estrangement20130415

Aleks Krotoski explores the difficulties of unpicking our digital lives when they’ve become entwined with another’s. The digital world is great at capturing and storing moments from our lives - sharing your family snapshots, tweets about domestic bliss, keeping the world up to date with each rung you climb on the career ladder... But in the wake of a relationship breakdown it can be painful to be confronted with such echoes of the past, and even more so if you’re constantly reminded that the people you're separated from are carrying on without you.

In this week's episode, Aleks talks to Becca Bland about the hardships of seeing into her estranged family's lives online, and author Nathan Bransford who found that having a wealth of information online after a divorce forced him into making some hard decisions. She also discovers how digital technology can be used to manage people's lives after a relationship breaks down, and (if all else fails) how to vanish entirely.

Producers Victoria McArthur and Peter McManus

0304Transgression20130422

Here be trolls…

What is it about the digital world that encourages normal people to disregard the rules of everyday life? Is it the cloak of anonymity the net offers? The social rules of online communities? Or simply human nature?

This week, Aleks Krotostki delves into the dark side of the digital world to explore whether or not the internet fuels the breakdown of social and moral boundaries.

She speaks to a troll who claims Jesus and Socrates as her forebears, Dave Eshleman who was one of the guards in the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment and Professor Alex Haslam who recreated the experiment for the BBC, with startlingly different results.

0305Isolation2013042920151005 (R4)

Aleks Krotoski explores our lives in the digital world. This week she asks, are our connected modern lives making us lonelier than ever?

0306 LASTDetox20130506

Do you feel in control of your technology, or is it the other way round?

In this last episode of the current series of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if we could all do with a detox from our digital devices. It's a question she's increasingly been asking herself, which brings her to the couch of cyber addiction therapist Chris Mulligan. While there is no classification of cyber addiction in any psychiatric manual in the world there are clearly people who have problems switching off from games or what they're looking at online.

Does the answer lie in how technology has hijacked the reward systems of our brains? Kelly Mcgonigal is a neuroscientist at Stanford University and has made a special study of willpower and the challenges we face in modern living. She's been researching how social information is profoundly addictive to the modern human brain. Aleks also hears about different approaches to solving the problem and keeping our technology use under control. Author Evgeny Morozov locks his phone and router cable in a time locked safe, while Susan Maushart took herself and her family offline for 6 months to kick-start a more mindful and deliberate approach to technology use.

But are these methods no more than sticking plasters and is it to ourselves and how we relate to our technology that we should look to rebalance this relationship. Producer Peter McManus.

0401Altruism2013100720150928 (R4)

Aleks Krotoski explores what technology tells us about ourselves and the age we live in. In this first programme; is the digital world allowing us to be more altruistic than ever?

So does altruism exist online? With all the stories of cyber-bullying and trolling it's very easy to forget the random acts of kindness that the technology also allows. Aleks explores some amazing stories of online altruism. But when no good deed goes unpublished and you can keep score of your goodness through 'followers', 'likes' and the accompanying boosts to ego and reputation is truly selfless altruism online an impossibility? And in the end, if good gets done does it matter?

Contributors: Primatologist Frans De Waal, Psychologist Dana Kilsanin, Founder of Random acts of pizza Daniel Rodgers, YouTube DIY guru Chez Rossi

Producer: Peter McManus.

0402Urban20131014

Every week a million more people move to live in cities. Can they cope with this constant expansion? Aleks explores whether 'Smart' cities are the answer or do they come with a hidden price of personal freedom. She visits the world's "smartest" city, Masdar in Abu Dhabi and explores the social engineering that's as much part of the design as the bricks and mortar.

Contributors: Physicist Geoffrey West, Urban Explorer Brad Garrett, Lean Doody from ARUP, Dr Iyad Rahwan, Architect and Artist Usman Haque.

Producer: Peter McManus.

Every week a million more people move to live in cities. Can they cope with this constant expansion? Aleks explores whether 'Smart' cities are the answer or do they come with a hidden price of personal freedom. She visits the worlds "smartest" city, Masdar in Abu Dhabi (if it's ever completed) and explores the social engineering that's as much part of the design as the bricks and mortar.

Contributors: Physicist Geoffrey West, Urban Explorer Brad Garrett, Dr Iyad Rahwan, Architect and Artist Usman Haque, Urbanscale's Adam Greenfield

0403Wander20131021

Aleks Krotoski explores whether technology has impaired our ability to wander. Now that off-grid is on-grid and we can send emails from mountaintops, have we sacrificed the pleasure of travelling to discover new places and ourselves?

Have we sacrificed the pleasure of travelling to discover new places and ourselves?

0404Value20131028

When almost anything we want is available to buy at the click of mouse and so much content is available for free, is the digital changing how we value things?

Aleks Krotoski explores our sense of worth in this new world where the only thing that's scarce is scarcity itself. Do we connect with our possessions differently and in the end what is it that makes something valuable to us.

Contributors

Nicholas Lovell author of The Curve, Professor Chris Speed from Edinburgh University, Auctioneer and Valuer Anita Manning, Composer and Roboticist Sarah Angliss

Producer Peter McManus.

0404Worth20131028

When almost anything we want is available to buy at the click of mouse and so much content is available for free, is the digital changing how we value things?

Aleks Krotoski explores our sense of worth in this new world where the only thing that's scarce is scarcity itself. Do we connect with our possessions differently and in the end what is it that makes something valuable to us.

Contributors

Nicholas Lovell author of The Curve, Professor Chris Speed from Edinburgh University, Auctioneer and Valuer Anita Manning, Composer and Roboticist Sarah Angliss, Nora MacGregor from the British Library

Producer Peter McManus.

0405Dark2013110420150929 (R4)

We might want to drown it out in light, but, as Aleks Krotoski discovers, darkness can be good for us. Electric light tampers with our circadian rhythms. Now we can light up any part of the day, our body isn't shutting off to sleep as easily as it once did. Aleks discovers the way that technology is starting to recognise this on both a personal level and a societal level.

Produced by Victoria McArthur.

We might want to drown it out in light, but, as Aleks Krotoski discovers, darkness can be good for us.

Aleks Krotoski explores what technology tells us about ourselves and the age we live.

0406 LASTAdaptation20131111

Aleks Krotoski explores how technology can give someone back a life that had seemed gone forever.

From a 93 year old painter whose failing eyesight has left him no option than to turn to technology, to an agoraphobic blogger who shares her thoughts on fashion online; technology can be the only means some people can express the things that are most important to them. Aleks Krotoski explores the stories of individuals who've become reliant on technology to keep living the lives they love. She also discovers if this can be a trap for some robbing them of the will to tackle their problems head on.

Contributors: Hal Lasko (the pixel painter), Ryan Lasko, Ron Lasko, Sera McDaid, Dr Jennifer Wild, Dr Skip Rizzo

Producer: Peter McManus.

0501Time20140407

Aleks Krotoski explores the technology of time keeping. As clocks get more accurate and time becomes more abstract what does that mean for how we experience it?

The accurate keeping of time allows our technological world to keep spinning and since earliest times has been central to how civilisation has developed. From the earliest mechanical clocks, the supercomputers of their day to the first wearable technology or pocket watch they've been at the forefront of technological advancement.

But what has 'clock time' done to how we experience the passage of time? Aleks will find out as she visits the earliest time recording device ever discovered, in a muddy Aberdeen-shire field some 5000 years older than Stone Henge. In contrast she sees how modern time is produced by the atomic clocks of the BIPM in Paris, its here that time for the world is produced, synchronising everything from power grids to GPS satellites and the internet. She also explores how we experience time subjectively and what that means for how we perceive the world. Finally she hears from someone who tried to live without clocks and what that meant for his experience of time.

Contributors: Prof. Vince Gaffney, Artist Cathy Haynes, psychologist Prof. Philip Zimbardo, Neuroscientist David Eagleman, Professional base jumper Karina Holkeim and writer and software developer Steve Corona.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0502Voice20140414

In this weeks Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if the Digital world is robbing us of our voice. When we'd rather text or message than speak to someone are we still listening?

While radio may well be thriving look at just about every other digital device and its pictures , video and text communication that dominates. So what is the future for the voice?

0503Whispers20140421

Today tens of thousands of people run the Boston marathon amidst tight security. A year ago two bombs were detonated at the finishing line, killing three and injuring 260. Social media went into overdrive as people frantically pieced together clues which might lead them to the bombers. From this patchwork of evidence two suspects emerged and rumours began to spread.

During the London riots in 2011 people tweeted photos of the London Eye ablaze. Rumours circulated that rioters had broken into the zoo and released wild animals. A tiger was even spotted prowling around in Primrose Hill; there was even a grainy picture to prove it.

We seem to be spending less time verifying facts and more time believing things that fits in with what feels right. Is technology helping or hindering the flow of good information? Do we need to think before we retweet?

In this episode of The Digital Human, Aleks explores how rumours spread both online and in the physical world and discovers how in the echo chamber of social media falsehoods repeat until they become truth.

Contributors: Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, psychologist Nicholas DiFonzo, computer scientist Kalina Bontcheva, DJ Russ Gibb, Twiggy Garcia and Ty Evans.

Producer: Caitlin Smith.

During the London riots in 2011 people tweeted photos of the London Eye ablaze. Rumours circulated that rioters had broken into the zoo and released the wild animals. A tiger was even spotted prowling around in Primrose Hill and there was even a grainy picture to prove it.

Last April, just over a year ago, two bombs were detonated at the finishing line at the Boston marathon, killing three people and injuring 260. Social media went into overdrive as people frantically pieced together clues which might lead them to the bombers. From this patchwork of evidence two suspects emerged and rumours began to spread.

We seem to be spending less time verifying facts and more time believing things that fits in with what feels right. Is technology helping or hindering the flow of good information?

In this episode of The Digital Human Aleks explores the anatomy of a rumour and asks what their role is in society.

0504Quantize20140428

Aleks Krotoski asks how human beings can cope with a world saturated by data. For some it is clay to be moulded and built while for others it is the route to self knowledge. But it exists in overwhelming volumes like grains of sand on a beach. Turning it into things we can understand is now an imperative and artists and designers around the world are constantly looking for ways to summarise and symbolise what we are learning about the world around us through this tsunami of numbers.

The programme's contributors include designers Brendan Dawes and Nicholas Feltron, Professor of philosophy at the Oxford Internet Institute Luciano Floridi, Scientist and composer Domenico Vicinanza, writer Amelia Abreu, quantified self advocate Dan Hon and life long diary writer John Gadd.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0505Broken2014050520151006 (R4)

Digital devices operate in binary ways; either they're working or they're a brick! Aleks Krotoski asks what this means for our natural instincts as tool builders and tool breakers?

As technology becomes more resistant to prying fingers and minds are we losing the ability to imagine it differently? Take the dying art of tuning an engine it can make cars faster and more efficient but only comes through a symbiotic relationship between mechanic and machine and of course every child knows the joy of taking something apart to see how it works at least until they're caught doing it

Are these the same sensibilities we see in the digital world? From hacking to playing a video game in such a perverse way as to see if it can be broken? Do the constraints of digital technology lock us out of our devices; licensing us to only use them in the prescribed ways, that while convenient are also dis-empowering?

Producer: Peter McManus.

Digital devices do operate in binary ways; either they're working or they're a brick! Aleks Krotoski asks what this means for our natural instincts as tool builders and tool breakers?

Broken things have their own beauty and with human help can become even more valuable than before they stopped working. The ancient Japanese art of Kinsugi repairs broken ceramics with seams of gold celebrating a things time in the world and the spirits they acquire. The dying art of tuning an engine can make cars faster and more efficient but only comes trough a symbiotic relationship between mechanic and machine.

0506 LASTSell20140512

Aleks explores how the digital world has changed our idea of selling. In a world where every click is a selling opportunity either for us or to us, how do we take advantage of the one without being taken in by the other?

0601Risk20141013

Our brains are still running security software designed to protect us against lions, tigers and bears and we haven't run an update for about 200,000 years. Aleks Krotoski explores how well it works when faced with the risks of the digital world.

According David Ropeik author and risk communication expert at Harvard University the modern technological world presents our risk perception abilities with much more complex and abstract problems than it was ever designed to cope with. For him we feel risk rather calculate it so whether its cyber-terrorism or climate change if the risk doesn't immediately push our risk buttons we simply don't know how to react with the risk of getting risk wrong.

And no-where can the risks seem more abstract than in the digital world. Aleks explores how we respond to the dangers that lurk there through a range of stories. We spend time being driven round the Channel island of Jersey in the company of Toni an 18 year old who gives lifts to people she's only ever met through Facebook, we'll hear how a professional online poker player uses the minimal information she can glean about other players to know when to bet big and Aleks will also discover how even a walk in the park can put our technology and the private information we keep there in jeopardy.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0602Language20141020

We communicate with each other in more ways than ever and with an ever expanding range of devices and platforms. But they all piggy back on an earlier invention, our original social networking technology - language.

In this edition of the Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores the idea of language as a technology itself and how people over the years have attempted to improve it; re-engineer it for maximum efficiency, or use it as a lever of social change.

She speaks to Professor David Crystal about how we're living through a period of rapid language growth comparable to the renaissance or industrial revolution. Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel explains how we can consider language as a technology devised by natural selection while linguist Arika Okrent charts the attempts down the years by those who think they can perfect the function of language by devising their own.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0603Abandon2014102720151008 (R4)

What happens when we abandon a place? And why is it so difficult for us to leave these places behind?

In this episode, Aleks explores abandon both on and offline. We tell the story of the only permanent resident of Fukushima's radiation exclusion zone. Naoto Matsura stayed in Tomioka while everyone around him fled. He's now the unofficial caretaker of this abandoned town.

Aleks contrasts this with a remarkable example of digital abandon. Meridian 59 was the first massively multiplayer online game. When newer competitors arrived on the scene, many players left. The game has been abandoned and restarted several times over since. Aleks hears from the hardcore community of players who refuse to let the game disappear entirely.

0604Nostalgia2014110320151002 (R4)

We live in a world where the nostalgia for the past now permeates our present.

With online trends like 'Throw Back Thursdays', apps like Timehop and platforms which gives you the tools to make your digital image look like it was taken with an analogue camera, the internet has never seemed so backwards-facing.

In this week's episode of The Digital Human, Aleks Krotoski visits imagined worlds and eras long past to explore whether the web is a nostalgia machine.

We speak with Professor of Svetlana Boym to trace the origins of the word back to homesick Swiss mercenaries in the 17th century, visit a water park in New Jersey which was reborn through the collective power of online nostalgia and take tea with a vintage enthusiast, who divides his time between working as an air host in a high-flying company, with living in the 1940s.

Producer: Caitlin Smith.

0605Maps2014111020151001 (R4)

Aleks Krotoski examines what digital mapping has meant for our understanding of the world. Are we always aware of the decisions that make them look the way they do? Traditionally of course maps are as "authored" as anything else. As Simon Garfield writer of On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does , explains we should think of maps like the biography of a famous person; highly subjective and usually with some sort of angle.

We hear this authorship at work when we join Bob Egan of PopSpotsNYC; he maps out where famous album cover photos were taken in his native New York and puts them online for us all to visit. We join him on the hunt through Google maps and on the streets as tracks down his latest quarry. Bob is adding his own layer of information to the digital mapping of our world for Dr Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute this is happening all around us.

And it's this phenomenon that makes the understanding of the choices that go into making our maps even more important. We hear about the experience of paleo-anthropologist Prof Lee Berger and how hidden choices in GPS data he was using nearly cost him the most important discovery of his career. Aleks then explores if the so called "open mapping" movement hold the answer to eliminating some of issues created by digital maps with the example of Christchurch recovery map -a crowd sourced map that was created within hours of the Christchurch earth quake of 2012.

And it's this phenomenon that makes the understanding of the choices that go into making our maps even more important. We hear of the experience of paleo-anthropologist Prof Lee Berger and how hidden choices in GPS data he was using nearly cost him the most important discovery of his career. Aleks then explores if the so called "open mapping" holds the answer to eliminating some of issues created by digital maps with the example of Christchurch recovery map -a crowd sourced map that was created within hours of the Christchurch earth quake of 2012.

0606 LASTEthics2014111720151009 (R4)

If a driverless car has to choose between crashing you into a school bus or a wall who do you want to be programming that decision? Aleks Krotoski explores ethics in technology.

Join Aleks as she finds out if it's even possible for a device to 'behave' in a morally prescribed way through looking at attempts to make a smart phone 'kosher'. But nothing captures the conundrum quite like the ethical questions raised by driverless cars and it's the issues they raise that she explores with engineer turned philosopher Jason Millar and robot ethicist Kate Darling.

Professor of law and medicine Sheila MacLean offers a comparison with how codes of medical ethics were developed before we hear the story of Gus a 13 year old whose world was transformed by SIRI.

Producer Peter McManus.

0701Secrets20150413

Secret holders share why and how they have used the internet to disclose their most intimate or well kept secrets - how does a compulsion to confess in a public setting effect those who the secret is about? And can this audition of secrets online naturally lead to revealing them offline?

Aleks talks to her high school friends to unravel the secrecy about SARGON, an open secret society at her high schoo,l which she was never invited to join. She discovers the power of secrets for those on the inside and outside of SARGON. Could such a society exist today in the presence of social media?

We also hear from Frank Warren the secret keeper of the online website and app PostSecret. Yorick Pheonix who used PostSecret to air a secret kept for 30 years tells us why he was happy to use such a public setting to explain that he kept his daughter a secret from his family. Aleks addresses the ownership of secrets and how the internet can impact on this. We hear from Yorick's daughter, Rachael about how she feels that her father's secret, which is also her own, is online for all to hear.

And former MI6 officer Harry Fergusson talks about context collapse and how he managed to keep his work and family life separate.

Producer: Kate Bissell

Digi Human graffiti by NOIR aka Glynn Judd.

0702Magic20150420

Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law goes "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." So does that apply to the modern digital world, Aleks Krotoski asks the question with some surprising results. From people living under the 'curse' of electro-sensitivity to the rituals we all go through to ward off evil spirits like updating our anti-virus software.

And she'll speak to the people teaching the language magic to technologists. In a world of install wizards and demon programmes why is the vocabulary of magic so powerful and what does that mean for our understanding of how our technology works.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0703Breathe20150427

Aleks Krotoski explores the overlap between technology and the natural world and how the two co-exist.

0704Rear Window20150504

Aleks Krotoski explores the basic human impulse of people watching. We are aware how we perform when we know we are being looked at online but hear little about those watching.

0705Seduction20150511

Online dating, including dating apps are now the second most likely place to meet a partner, but is the decision making process as to who and how we court and woo changing?

0706 LASTSilt20150518

Aleks Krotoski explores if we have all become digital hoarders. When our digital junk drawers are bigger than we can comprehend, do we lose the sense of what is worth keeping?

0801Detection20151012

In the first of the new series, Aleks Krotoski explores how the web has influenced detection, from uncovering Osama Bin Laden to discovering the identity of long-abandoned Jane and John Does.

As human beings, what is it in our nature that drives us to find out the end of the story - even when that story has nothing to do with us?

The online world has made the detective mystery one in which we can all play a role. Hundreds of cold cases have been re-examined and re-explored by cyber sleuths around the world - and some cases have picked up definitive leads from eagle-eyed members of the public. But what are the implications for law enforcement, and how does detection work when so many of us are playing outside of the rules?

Producer: Victoria McArthur.

0802Vigilante20151019

Aleks Krotoski delves into vigilantism on the web and looks at the moral and philosophical implications of fighting the good fight in a digital space. Can we consider the web to be a superhero?

Aleks Krotoski explores living in a digital world.

0803Doppelganger20151026

The online world abounds with doppelgangers, cyber-twins, bots and mind-clones; in this Halloween episode of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores the uncanny world of these digital doubles.

On the most simple level social networks and the now seemingly permanent cult of the selfie means that finding our visual double has never been easier. And its the appeal of this that was the inspiration for Niamh Gearney's website Twin Strangers where people register to hopefully track down their double. Niamh herself has found 3 doubles and she hopes to track down 7 having found that number in researching doppelganger myths.

For artist Daniel Bejar sharing his name with a famous musician has turned the online world into a battlefield for identity an idea he's exploring by changing his appearance to that of his more famous namesake and posting pictures to the web. While for Joanna McNeil she created her own cyber-twin; a bot to share answering her emails and messages. She hoped this would help her understand the ways in which emotion is conveyed online by delegating communication to an algorithm.

Its how the digital world makes doppelgangers of us all that fascinates technology critic Sara Watson of Harvard's Berkman Institute of the internet and society. We catch glimpses of these shadowy digital doppelgangers in ads that don't quite match who we think we are online or in recommendations make us feel uneasy. Its as if the attempts at personalisation of our digital experiences that she compares to the idea of the uncanny valley of robotics when something is so close to being human that it becomes repellent.

Producers: Peter McManus and Elizabeth Ann Duffy.

0804Mind20151102

Aleks Krotoski explores living in a digital world.

0805Body20151109

Since ancient Greece and probably before we've always used metaphors drawn from our current technology to understand our bodies. From the time of Newton we thought of the body as an elaborate clockwork device, the industrial revolution brought us the steam engine and the body became a system of pressures and levers. Aleks Krotoski asks what metaphor prevails in the digital era and what shortcomings in our understanding accompany these analogies.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0806Imagine20151116

Imagination is an essential component of what makes us human, it's complexity and artistry separating us from other animals as well as machines. Yet as digital technology progresses it's beginning to model this, once believed mystical, process.

Aleks Krotoski explores the implications of this latest stage of digital evolution. Could the digital world fill the gap for people who are unable to imagine? Does the production of imaginative arts such as poetry indicate a level of humanity in our machines? And if computers can indeed be programmed to imagine, what does this mean for the beauty and artistry of the human mind?

Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.

0806 LASTImagine20151116

Aleks Krotoski asks, in the digital age is imagination the last bastion of what makes us human?

Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.

0901Work20160404

In the 1st of a new series Aleks Krotoski gets down to work. From micro-taskers paid pennies to be the janitors of our digital services to car drivers jumping on the Uber bandwagon.

Aleks speaks to technology writer Kashmir Hill who spent a month as an invisible girlfriend writing loving texts to service subscribers for a few cents per message. This is just one example of 'micro-tasking' made famous by Amazon's Mechanical Turk service. For Vili Lehdonvirta of the Oxford internet institute they're examples of the hidden human effort going into services we would assume were automated. Its a new form of piece work undertaken by a causal workforce doing it where and when it suits them.

This type of work treats you like part of a system managed by algorithms an artificial, artificial intelligence. In some senses this isn't anything new as work historian Richard Donkin explains using the examples of the time and motion studies pioneered by Fredrick Winslow Taylor and later taken up by Henry Ford.

What is new is that having an algorithm as a boss runs the risk of having only the appearance of freedom and flexibility. Its what attracts people to the so called gig economy, where tasks are farmed out by the app to a willing freelance workforce. Aleks hears both sides of that experience from two people who make their living off a digital platform; one by day and the other by night.

So what promise do these new forms of digital work offer? Aleks discovers they have the potential to be both a race to the bottom for labour markets and usher in a new era for those currently unable to work.

Producer: Peter McManus.

0901Work20160404

0902Home20160411

Aleks Krotoski explores how the digital world is changing our concept of how we find home and where that happens to be.

0902Home20160411

0903Taste20160418

Food is a universal necessity, human brains light up more for food than any other experience, so it's little wonder that food culture has exploded online. Social media is festooned with pictures, recipes, cooking videos and we can't seem to ever get enough.

But, is the digital world doing more than getting our mouths watering? Could technology be changing the very way we taste?

In this episode, Aleks Krotoski explores how food trends develop and shape our culture and spread on social media, as well as exploring new tech that may change the way we eat - from 3D printed delights, to Chef Watson who creates recipes in the cloud, and even how we might manipulate our brains to change how we perceive flavour.

Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.

0903Taste20160418

0904Wayfinding20160425

Aleks Krotoski compares our intuitive way-finding skills to those of the digital world and finds out why describing the best way from A to B still poses problems for tech.

Simon Wheatcroft is adventurer who's run all over the world and at distances that would make marathon runners shudder, he's also blind, he explains how he combined the sensations he gets underfoot with notifications from his fitness to learn to run solo.

Combining cues from the world around you to find your way is Tristan Gooley's passion. As the Natural Navigator he uses anything natural or man made not only to find out where he is but where he's going. He eschews all navigational tools; maps compasses as well as digital devices in the belief that the head down follow the dot mentality they foster impoverishes our experience of the journey itself.

Thora Tenbrink from Bangor University explains why the directions we receive from our devices often feel so alien that we really have to focus to make sense of them. While tech can use street names and exact distances, humans are vague navigators heading in the general direction and using landmarks. The two approaches aren't always that compatible.

Our natural way-finding abilities can let us down though when we're under stress. Professor David Canter has been studying behaviour in emergency evacuations for much of his career, he explains the sometimes odd and contradictory things we resort to when trying to escape a disaster. So should we look to technology to come to the rescue? We hear from researchers at Georgia tech who explored how far participants would trust a robot to save them from a burning building - apparently quite a lot!

Producer: Peter McManus.

0904Wayfinding20160425

090520160502

Aleks Krotoski explores living in a digital world.

0906Changeling20160509

Why does a parent's awe over their child's ability with technology turn so quickly to fear? Aleks Krotoski explores the anxieties at the heart of modern parenting and tech.