250 episodes

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and a guest make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Make Me Smart American Public Media

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 17 Ratings

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and a guest make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

    Let’s get smart about the metaverse

    Let’s get smart about the metaverse

    Last week, we spoke with sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson. He’s the guy who coined the term “metaverse” in 1992 to describe a 3D virtual world where people interact through avatars.



    Today, the term is being thrown around a lot by tech and gaming companies that say they’re building the real metaverse. You probably noticed Facebook even changed its name to Meta and has really doubled down on this concept. And cue Microsoft, announcing its deal with Activision last week, saying it will provide the building blocks for the metaverse.



    But what is the metaverse, and how real is it?



    “The conceptual idea is a shared 3D world that uses [virtual reality] and [augmented reality] and has tens of thousands of people, and it’s all interoperable. But right now, the best definition of the metaverse is that it’s kind of a catch-all marketing term that a lot of different companies are using to convey the value they see in their potential future products,” said Eric Ravenscraft, product writer and reviewer at Wired.



    On the show today, we’ll cut through some of the noise about the metaverse and break down what’s real, what’s hypothetical and what might remain science fiction.



    In the News Fix: We’re running really, really low on semiconductors. We’ll talk about a new survey that shows U.S. manufacturers are about five days away from running out of chips and what that means for the supply chain. Also, we’ll dig into a report that reveals the effects of not treating mental health the same as physical health.



    Later, a listener calls us with her hot take on the West Elm Caleb drama. And, if you think you know what bald eagles sound like, you’ll be surprised after you hear this week’s answer to the Make Me Smart question.



    Here is everything we talked about today:




    “What Is the Metaverse, Exactly?” from Wired
    “In 2021, tech talked up ‘the metaverse.’ One problem: It doesn’t exist.” from The Washington Post
    “Chip Shortage Leaves U.S. Companies Dangerously Low on Semiconductors,  Report Says” from The Wall Street Journal
    “Labor Department outlines unlawful imbalance in coverage between mental, physical care services” from Marketplace
    ICYMI: Caleb From West Elm Took Over TikTok But He Wasn’t As Bad As Claimed from BuzzFeed

    • 28 min
    We’re talking about Bruno…

    We’re talking about Bruno…

    Welcome back from the weekend, folks! It’s What’d We Miss Monday, where we discuss some of the stories we missed over the last few days. Today, we discussed Encanto taking over the charts (and our hearts!), Olympians going to great lengths to avoid COVID and an update on the Webb Space Telescope! Plus, updates from abroad and a sweet Make Me Smile!



    Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:




    “Olympians Face a Daunting Final Qualifying Event: Staying Healthy” from The New York Times
    “Miranda Talks About Bruno, And the ‘Encanto’ Phenomenon” from Bloomberg
    “A Glut of Cauliflower Is Coming to Britain” from Bloomberg
    “China sends 39 warplanes toward Taiwan, largest in new year” from the Military Times
    Tom Malinowski on Twitter
    “Orbital Insertion Burn a Success, Webb Arrives at L2” from NASA



    What’s making you smile this week? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

    • 15 min
    West Elm Caleb saga is a story about online privacy

    West Elm Caleb saga is a story about online privacy

    If you haven’t heard about Caleb from West Elm, get ready for a mini-deep dive. His story is all over TikTok and Twitter, and it’s raising serious questions about internet culture and a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. We’ll break it down. Plus, who knew what, when? That’s what House Democrats are asking of fossil fuel companies regarding climate change. Then, a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!



    Here’s everything we talked about today:




    “Caleb From West Elm Is Bad At Dating But He Probably Didn’t Deserve Being Pushed Through The TikTok Meat Grinder” from BuzzFeed
    New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz on West Elm Caleb
    “House panel broadens probe into climate disinformation by Big Oil” from The Washington Post
    “How the oil industry made us doubt climate change” from the BBC
    “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago” from Scientific American
    Why Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion from Marketplace
    “How to Order the Four Free Rapid Covid-19 Tests Announced by the White House” from The Wall Street Journal
    “Amazon plans a new rival for retailers: a physical clothing store.” from The New York Times
    And … the NFT Museum?



    Have thoughts about the West Elm Caleb saga or any other story we mentioned today? Hit us up at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 (or 508-U-B-SMART).

    • 26 min
    Texas deep freeze Part 2?

    Texas deep freeze Part 2?

    Temperatures in Texas are tumbling this week, and occasional host Andy Uhler is getting flashbacks from last year’s deep freeze. We’ll talk about what Texas has and hasn’t done to prevent another disaster. Plus, we’re feeling a little hollowed out after we learned what some college students think the average American earns. To lighten the mood, we jump on the Worldle bandwagon!



    Here is everything we talked about today:




    “The Texas Electric Grid Failure Was a Warm-up” from TexasMonthly
    “Cold Sends Texas Natural Gas Supplies Plunging for Second Time This Month” from Bloomberg
    “A professor said her students think Americans make six figures on average. That’s a long way off.” from The Washington Post
    “Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time” from the Association for Psychological Science
    “The Misperception of Racial Economic Inequality” also from the Association for Psychological Science
    “Absurdle is like Wordle but it fights back” from PC Gamer
     “M&M characters redesigned for a “more dynamic, progressive world,” Mars announces” from CBS News



    Don’t forget, our newsletter drops every Friday. Sign up at Marketplace.org/newsletters.

    • 22 min
    What’s so great about 5G?

    What’s so great about 5G?

    AT&T and Verizon rolled out their expanded 5G services today. One listener wonders: What’s 5G anyway, and why do we need it? We’ll explain why it’s been a long time coming. Plus, our fill-in hosts answer more listener questions about wage theft, the Great Resignation and the climate implications of wood stoves versus electric space heaters.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:


    “What is C-band 5G? Verizon and AT&T are flipping on the switch in the US” from CNN
    ICYMI: Kai explains the issue with 5G and altimeters
    “Employers steal billions from workers’ paychecks each year: Survey data show millions of workers are paid less than the minimum wage, at significant cost to taxpayers and state economies” from the Economic Policy Institute
    “Fast-Food Workers Describe Harassment, Wage Theft During Pandemic” from Business Insider
    “US Labor Agencies Strike Deal to Share Enforcement Information” from Bloomberg Law
    “More quit jobs than ever, but most turnover is in low-wage work” from New York Times
    “The economy is still in pandemic shock. But some state governments are flush with cash” from The Washington Post
    “Cities Tap Federal Relief Aid to Reward Workers With Bonuses” from Bloomberg

    Got a question? Send us a voice memo. Or call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

    • 24 min
    How sci-fi can make us smart

    How sci-fi can make us smart

    On Make Me Smart, we often turn to economists, professors and policy wonks to make us smart about some big topics that need explaining. Today, we’re turning to a different kind of expert, sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson.



    His latest book, “Termination Shock,” is about climate change, geoengineering and what happens when a billionaire decides to take matters into his own hands.



    “I’m past trying to convince people that climate change is real. What I was more interested in was, for an audience that believes that climate change is real, what are some outcomes that we might see, in the near future, as different people in different countries begin to try to come to grips with that problem, because opinions differ as to what the right approach might be. And whenever you get differing opinions, you’ve got conflict, and whenever you’ve got conflict, you have the potential for a good story,” Stephenson said.



    We’ll talk with Stephenson about how he thinks about big, complex issues like climate change and what this genre can teach us about the future and solving problems in the real world. Speaking of the future, Stephenson, who coined the word “metaverse” in 1992, weighs in on all the hullaballoo over the metaverse today.



    In the News Fix, what’s behind all the news, or lack thereof, that we’re not getting from Tonga after this weekend’s volcano eruption. Also, you can get your free rapid COVID-19 test now.



    Then, a listener drops some facts on the James Webb Space Telescope and what a former Google researcher was really wrong about.



    Here’s everything we talked about today:




    ““Termination Shock,” by Neal Stephenson: An Excerpt” from The New York Times
    Neal Stephenson on “Termination Shock,” geoengineering, metaverse from CNBC
    “Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” from The New York Times
    “Undersea cable fault could cut off Tonga from rest of the world for weeks” from Yahoo Finance
    “California surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases” from The Los Angeles Times
    U.S. stocks fall sharply as 10-year yield tops 1.80%, Goldman earnings disappoint from MarketWatch
    “Mum admits to being mystery Netflix user who’s watched Bee Movie 357 times in a YEAR” from The Sun

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

K Pilly ,

Great podcast

An easy way to learn a lot!

EdF London ,

Brilliance with humour

Consistently informative and clever. Great humour in the middle of it too. Often topics I didn’t know I cared about.

PaulRichardBooth ,

Insightful and really good fun!

Insightful and really good fun!
I love the dynamic between Kai and Molly

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