Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.
Episode 632: Big Strong Beef Boy
Dan and Merlin are excited about technologies that have found a place in their lives. What a blessed season of thanks!
A Lot of Their Unhappiness Came from Me
The Smell of a 15-Year-Old
My Trans Daddy is a Fox
Las Vegas Poops
Apple’s China ties under Congressional scrutiny after Jon Stewart cancellation | Ars TechnicaI Reviewed the Most Ridiculous Gadgets from my Spam Folder - YouTubePolycam - LiDAR & 3D Scanner for iPhone & Android@hotdogsladies | PolycamCreate a 3d Model using your Phone! PolyCam 3D Scan Tutorial - YouTubeMac keyboard shortcuts - Apple SupportiPad Keyboards - Applecalibre - E-book management
Episode 631: Little Bit of Dirty Grey
Merlin has more on generative AI, and Dan has a sweet new watch.
Original Takes for Orson Welles Wine Commercial - YouTubeMatt Berry - What's In My Bag? - YouTubeIT'S KEVIN Amish Sex Pistols - YouTubeThe Butterfield Diet Plan 🍰 | The Peter Serafinowicz Show - BBC - YouTubeOpenAI DevDay, Opening Keynote - YouTubeNew Products: A Deep Dive - YouTubeboygenius - not strong enough (Live from SNL) - YouTubeKevin Eldon - WikipediaSony Watchman - WikipediaNHTSA Early Estimates: 2022 Traffic Crash Deaths | NHTSA — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2022, estimating that 42,795 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes
Episode 630: Monchichabowsky
On AI and curiosity.
Monchhichi Blue Bib Boy · Kappa ToysCareer Day - SNL - YouTubeMonchhichi Dolls Commercial - YouTubeDrama Actors Roundtable: Pedro Pascal, Evan Peters, Kieran Culkin, Damson Idris & More - YouTubePedro Pascal & Oscar Isaac Answer the Web's Most Searched Questions | WIRED - YouTubeLike Stories of Old | Nebula — I believe that movies, just like the stories of old, contain valuable lessons and insights, and to better understand them is to better understand life.The Inner Chronicle of What We Are – Understanding Werner Herzog - YouTubeFilms directed by Werner Herzog • LetterboxdHow Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck (1976) directed by Werner Herzog • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd — A documentary short examining the language and performance of auctioneering, filmed at the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Pennsylvania.God's Angry Man (1981) directed by Werner Herzog • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd — The documentary follows Gene Scott, famous televangelist involved with constant fights against FCC, who tried to shut down his TV show during the 1970s and ’80s, and even argues with his viewers, complaining about their lack of support by not sending enough money to keep going with the show.OpenAI DevDay, Opening Keynote - YouTubeProtective Mom - SNL - YouTubeFancam Assembly - SNL - YouTubeWing Pit - SNL - YouTube
Episode 629: Benjamin Franklin's Disease
And and Merlin have a wide-ranging discussion.
Rams Palette. – Present & CorrectPresent & CorrectModern notes manager for macOS and iOS | FSNotes App — FSNotes is modern notes manager for macOS and iOS. App respects open formats like GitHub Flavored Markdown, so you can easily write documents on iPhone and MacBook. It's simple and blazing fast!
Swap email for Slack: How to save employees 11 hours a week | SlackC.H.U.D. - WikipediaMonoLisa - A font family designed for software developers. Font follows function.JetBrains Mono: A free and open source typeface for developers | JetBrains: Developer Tools for Professionals and TeamsCareer Day - SNL - YouTube
Episode 628: Beating Yourself Up at Scale
Talk of eyes, intentionalities, and HDMI.
Chipotle tests automation for burrito bowls and saladsOrion — HDMI Monitor for iPadAmazon.com: Sakura 44181 Identi-Pen Blister Card Permanent Marker, Black : Office ProductsEx-Dodger Steve Garvey launches a Senate campaign heavy on nostalgia, light on specifics — "So far, his campaign promises to be heavy on 1970s baseball nostalgia and light on policy or specifics."Amazon.com: Tul Retractable Gel Pens 0.5mm Needle Point, Black (8 Pack) : Office ProductsAmazon.com: The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy Box Set: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty; Beauty's Punishment; Beauty's Release: 9780452294752: Roquelaure, A. N.: Books — "In 1983, before E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey and Sylvia Day's Bared to You, Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure, began the first installment of the series that is now considered a forerunner of erotic literature."What is Buddhism? — Information is BeautifulTaskmaster Champion of Champions - Episode 1 - YouTubeExploring the Depths of Buddhist Thought: An Infographic Guide — Information is Beautiful — An infographical flyover of key Buddhist thought, detailing notions of enlightenment, higher states of consciousness and the principle of ‘dependent origination‘.
Episode 627: Unscheduled Dirt Event
Merlin claims he's not going to do any work for this one, and Dan has some advice for travelers.
Doom developer John Carmack thinks AGI could debut in 2030 • The RegisterThe Unusual | Dan Benjamin | SubstackThe Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use - YouTubeBoarding a Plane Shouldn’t Be This Hard - Key & Peele - YouTubeMerlin's 3D Little Guys - ungainly
Updated for 2023!
After taking a break and checking in again, this show has gotten a lot more fun throughout the last year - I really like the energy of Merlin rolling with Dan lately and it feels a little bit like the early days just without the productivity focus.
I’ve gotten some great recommendations from recent episodes and am back to being a fairly regular listener. If you took a break and happen to see this review, I urge you to check it out again - it’s like catching up with old friends after a while.
I don’t know what specifically happened behind the scenes but I feel like both hosts are doing better behind the scenes and it’s really coming through over the mic. Hope you will continue this show for a long while despite the rocky podcast ad industry.
It’s been fun, but the AI talk is offputting
Back to Work has always been amusing at the very least and extraordinarily helpful when they do actually talk about productivity and work. And right now it’s a crucial time as the specter of “AI” looms overhead, with people on both sides of the “issue” claiming this and that. I think it’s fine that Merlin (and to a lesser extent Dan) are very interested in these chatbots as they are here to stay and people do need to begin wrestling with them, for better or worse, as it encroaches (forcefully by the hands of mostly corporations and bad actors) into all aspects of our lives. We should be learning how to use this stuff to make our lives and our work easier if we can, and Merlin and Dan tinkering with this stuff can be helpful. But I think Merlin is still too dismissive and lacking empathy for the people who are genuinely losing their jobs already because executives are already rushing ahead to using the chatbots to generate content, even in spite of the clear indications that this stuff isn’t ready for prime time and there are no guardrails or limitations for a lot of this stuff legally. It feels a bit like the biggest proponents are in their own world and fail to acknowledge the damage that this stuff is doing, and merely say that people need to adapt, as if that’s reasonable in all circumstances or easily doable. So hearing about AI chatbots with this almost naive enthusiasm and air of dismissal for its opponents has become tiring as I read about a company laying off dozens and then 2 months later looking for an AI editor to handle 200-250 articles a week. Maybe I’ll be back to see if the approach to this stuff changes, but for now I need to hit pause on any new episodes.
I’ve been a listener for over a decade now. Fun and helpful show for anyone that works a jobby job, manages personal technology, streams movies, or deals with some degree of stress and anxiety. I guess you could say this show is what I want (“what I want”).