Hosted by Molly Wood, “Marketplace Tech” demystifies the digital economy. The daily radio show and podcast uncovers how tech influences our lives in unexpected ways and provides context for listeners who care about the impact of tech, business and the digital world. Transforming breaking news to breaking ideas, Marketplace Tech uncovers themes that transcend the hype in an industry that’s constantly changing. Reporting from Oakland, California host Molly Wood asks smart questions that connect the dots and provide insight on the impact of technology to help listeners understand the business behind the technology rewiring our lives.
The future of work … as determined by Uber?
As the pandemic recession drags on, people are turning to gig work to fill the gaps, and the nature of that work is evolving. Proposition 22 in California, which passed last week, lets companies classify delivery and ride-hail drivers as independent contractors. There are some new requirements, such as a wage floor and some health benefit options. Some describe it as a “third way” between benefit-free part-time work and traditional full-time employment. If the idea catches on more broadly, what could it mean for how we work? Molly Wood speaks with David Weil, dean at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He says the idea comes from Canadian labor law.
Retail therapy is great, but returns can take the fun out of it
In this pandemic, we are shopping online way, way more than we ever have. And sometimes we want to return the things we buy, which can be a hassle — with shipping and restocking fees and printing out return labels with printers we may or may not have at home. This holiday season, some retailers are trying to make returns easier. For example, employees at Simon malls will process returns for brands like Levi’s and Gap, so all you have to do is go to a mall kiosk with your item and a QR code. But as annoying as online returns can be for us, they might be worse for the retailers. Marielle Segarra speaks with Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester.
Retailers are turning to virtual storefronts this holiday season
Shopping is a big part of the holiday season: We go downtown or to a packed mall, browse the store windows, smell the chestnuts roasting in the street. The pandemic has obviously changed all this, but some retailers like Gap, Ted Baker, and Ralph Lauren are trying to deliver that experience through our computers. Marielle Segarra recently clicked through a virtual tour of Ralph Lauren’s Beverly Hills store and talked about the virtual storefront experience with Joe Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book “The Aisles Have Eyes.”
How soon some parts of the country get 5G depends on what the Biden administration does
We’ve been waiting for 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology, for years. And the promise of it is great: that it’ll eventually be 100 times faster than 4G and make technologies, like driverless cars and augmented reality, more sophisticated. But there’s still a lot the incoming Biden administration and telecommunication companies will have to do before we have the 5G we’ve been promised. Marielle Segarra speaks with Doug Brake, director of broadband and spectrum policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He says there are several different kinds of 5G, and we’re pretty far off from having the fastest kind from coast to coast.
Parler lets anything happen on its platform — what if nobody else cares?
The social media site Parler doesn’t fact-check, doesn’t moderate and doesn’t label or remove misinformation. Conservatives and far-right conservatives love it, and disinformation researchers are worried. But there is one other interesting element to Parler: There’s no algorithm that amplifies stories, like the kind that tends to make disinformation go viral on YouTube or Facebook. So, could that lessen its impact? Molly speaks with Shannon McGregor, a professor studying social media at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Twitter is finally thinking about accessibility first
There’s been a lot of talk this week about new Twitter features, mostly disappearing tweets. But Twitter also announced Tuesday that it’s planning voice-only chat rooms called Spaces where you talk instead of type. Earlier this summer, Twitter experimented with letting people send audio-only tweets, but didn’t allow for captioning those tweets, so they were inaccessible to the deaf community. Twitter put that feature on pause and has now created two new teams — one to make Twitter a more accessible place to work and another to vet product ideas for accessibility. And, according to Twitter, accessibility has been “top of mind when developing Spaces.” “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood speaks with Dalana Brand, vice president and head of inclusion and diversity at Twitter.
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when /isn’t/ technology political
Thank you, Molly (and APM).
Love the stories about disability tech!
Please interview more sources and cover disability and tech more broadly! Loved the weeklong series in August and September Haben follow-up, but disability exists in paracosms of virtually every story involving people, and with 1/4 of society disabled it would be great to hear daily questions about accessibility with regard to products, systems and more.
Love this straight forward, well crafted podcast with just enough insight to inform and lead.