Smithsonian has launched a new podcast called Sidedoor that takes listeners behind the scenes at the museums. The first episode, called Tech Yourself, looks at technology. And to be honest, the episode takes a while to get interesting. But it's definitely worth a listen. The first quarter of the first episode is comprised mostly of boring observations about our relationship with tech. Frankly, they're about as profound as the kind of thing that you'd hear on local TV news. But when the hosts take us inside the museums of the Smithsonian (presumably through the sidedoor, get it?) and talk to some experts, listeners finally get what they came for.
For instance, once the hosts talk to Carlene Stephens, a curator who researches the concept of time at the Museum of Natural History, the show gets really good. The second episode gets into the interesting bits right away by taking us behind the scenes at the National Air and Space Museum and talking with Frank Winter, an expert who describes experiments in the 1950s with rocket mail.
You can listen to the first two episodes at the links below and see what's on the schedule for the next few months.
- Tech Yourself, October 26
- Special Delivery, October 26
- Confronting the Past, November 9
- Masters of Disguise, November 23
- Butting Heads, December 7
- Gaming the System, December 21
- You Do You, January 4
- Shake It Up, January 18
The Smithsonian podcast has a few kinks, but it's a really solid start. Don't let the opening of the first episode turn you off from the thing entirely. It has incredible potential, as you can hear in the interviews with Carlene Stephens and Frank Winter.
Full disclosure: The Paleofuture blog was formerly at Smithsonian before it was moved to Gizmodo in May of 2013.