26 episodes

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen?

In each episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield takes a deep look at the people who are trying to change the world, chronicling their successes but also exploring the limits of change. The primary subject areas are politics, sociology, technology, and business.

Theory of Change podcast Matthew Sheffield

    • News
    • 4.6 • 26 Ratings

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen?

In each episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield takes a deep look at the people who are trying to change the world, chronicling their successes but also exploring the limits of change. The primary subject areas are politics, sociology, technology, and business.

    Theory of Change #028: David Adams on how technology repeats itself

    Theory of Change #028: David Adams on how technology repeats itself

    We don’t think enough about just how much our lives have changed because of technology. If you’re a millennial or older, chances are you can remember a time when payphones existed, everyone went to the movie theater, and lots of people didn’t have an email address.

    A lot has changed for us along the way. The technology world itself has changed a lot from those early days in the late 90s as well. It’s worth taking stock of what happened over years, not just to remember how things were, but how what went before is impacting us today and will be in the future. And that's because, just like history, technology doesn't repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.

    In this episode, we're featuring David Adams, he’s the founder and publisher of OSNews.com, a publication that covers larger technology and platform trends. He’s also the chief product officer at Equiem, a software company that serves the commercial real estate market.


    FULL TRANSCRIPT
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/11/problems-social-media-are-not-technology-challenges-they-are-social

    GUEST INFO
    David Adams on Twitter: https://twitter.com/david_adams

    OSNews, the site founded by David: https://osnews.com/


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Theory of Change #027: Barry Meier on the 'Steele Dossier' and private spy agencies

    Theory of Change #027: Barry Meier on the 'Steele Dossier' and private spy agencies

    Five years after it was written, the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of memos compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleging extensive ties between Donald Trump and various Russians, is still one of the most heavily discussed pieces of writing about the ex-president.

    The document has come under intense scrutiny by American law enforcement and intelligence officials. And most of its sensational allegations about Trump have collapsed under examination. It's also become increasingly apparent that Russia's own intelligence officials became aware of what Steele was doing and began trying to manipulate him as he did it.

    And the document has become the locus of a passel of far right conspiracy theories, alleging all kinds of strange and fanciful things, even more bizarre and intricate than anything that Christopher Steele ever imagined. 

    How much truth is in the Trump-Russia dossier will likely never be known, but the document is actually part of a larger issue that has received almost no attention. And that is that the Steele memos were the product of multiple private intelligence services, a growing and very secretive industry that is built on the premise of collecting information at the behest of clients. And then using that to generate news coverage without disclosing to the public where it came from. In recent years, many media outlets have been slashing their budgets for independent investigative reporting. Are private spy agencies filling this gap? And what does it mean if they are? 

    Joining us to discuss this today is Barry Meier he's the author of "Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies."

    FULL TRANSCRIPT
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/11/how-steele-dossier-confused-public-and-ended-helping-donald-trump

    GUEST INFO
    Barry Meier official site: https://www.barrymeierbooks.com/

    Barry Meier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarryMeier

    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    • 57 min
    Theory of Change #026: Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin on the economics of disinformation

    Theory of Change #026: Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin on the economics of disinformation

    By now, a lot of people are aware of and concerned about the lies, hatred, and rumors that are so rampant on social media. The social media companies are definitely responsible to a large degree for letting this happen. But they don’t deserve all the blame. There’s another sector of the internet economy that has been promoting and even paying the merchants of hatred and lies—the advertising technology business, better known as “Ad Tech.”

    What is ad tech? Basically it’s the software and services behind the zillions of ads that are basically inescapable on the internet through a complicated system of exchanges and instantaneous bidding. These companies are known for their practice of tracking and spying on people’s browsing habits, but they also are, in many cases, lying to the advertisers themselves about their ads—who watches them and where they appear.

    The long and short of it is that companies who advertise are often unaware that their advertising budgets are being used to subsidize bigoted and hateful content.

    How this all works is very complicated but the good news is that there is something that we can all do to help stop these shady practices. In this episode, we feature Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin, the co-founders of Check My Ads, a new organization that’s working on helping organizations and individuals put an end to online bigotry.

    The archived video stream of our conversation is below, a transcript of the edited audio follows.

    FULL TRANSCRIPT
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/11/disinformation-economy-isnt-invincible-meet-two-women-working-end-it

    GUEST INFO
    Nandini Jammi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nandoodles
    Claire Atkin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/catthekin

    Check My Ads website: https://checkmyads.org/

    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    • 53 min
    Theory of Change #025: Jim Swift on Glenn Youngkin and ‘Never Trump’

    Theory of Change #025: Jim Swift on Glenn Youngkin and ‘Never Trump’

    Every four years, the United States holds its presidential elections. But one year afterward, the states of New Jersey and Virginia hold their own gubernatorial elections.

    And for decades, the overwhelming trend in both states has been that the vote for the governor is opposite from the current president's party. So in other words, if the current president is a Democrat, then usually the Republicans win in both Virginia and New Jersey.

    Not all the votes are counted yet, but it looks like in Virginia, the historic trend has held and Republican Glenn Youngkin is on track to be the next governor. In New Jersey, however, the incumbent Democratic governor, Phil Murphy seems like he has broken the historic streak and will remain in office for another four years.

    In this episode, we talk about those trends and how influential they were on the results this year, but another factor worth discussing is the role played by former president Trump in these races.

    Youngkin try to stay away from Trump as much as possible publicly while also privately trying to work with various far-right groups like the John Birch Society. So is the Youngkin strategy going to be a model for GOP candidates going forward? Or will Trump and his followers demand explicit public loyalty?

    Another question to consider: How important of a role did far-right media outlets spreading disinformation play in Youngkin's apparent victory?

    Matthew Sheffield is joined in this episode by Jim Swift, a senior editor at The Bulwark. Swift also once worked at The Weekly Standard, the original "Never Trump" publication, a subject which also comes up in the discussion.

    FULL TRANSCRIPT
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/11/republicans-glenn-youngkin-jim-swift

    GUEST INFO
    Jim Swift on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimSwiftDC

    The Bulwark website: https://www.thebulwark.com/

    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing! We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    • 59 min
    Theory of Change #024: Moustafa Ayad on jihadist and white nationalist fusion

    Theory of Change #024: Moustafa Ayad on jihadist and white nationalist fusion

    Extremist Muslims and extremist Christians hate each other, or at least they did before the meme wars.

    It's hard to believe, but extremist Muslims and Christians are actually starting to cheer each other online. After presidents Trump and Biden ended the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, white nationalists in this country cheered on what they called the "Chadliban" as it took back control of the country. A world away, ISIS supporters are starting to use white nationalist meme characters and phrasing, even adapting Christian nationalist images for an Islamic audience.

    So what's behind this strange synergy of the world's worst people? In this episode, we'll be talking about all of this with Mustafa Ayad. He's a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and an expert in Islamic extremism and online meme culture.

    FULL TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/11/white-nationalists-and-jihadists-are-starting-realize-they-have-lot

    GUEST INFO
    Moustafa Ayad on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/MoustafaAyad

    Essay: "Gen Z’s Alt-Right Declares New Hero: the Taliban"
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/generation-zs-alt-right-declares-new-hero-the-taliban


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing! We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Thank you very much!

    • 44 min
    Theory of Change #023: Christopher Douglas on Satan and far-right Christianity's daily apocalypses

    Theory of Change #023: Christopher Douglas on Satan and far-right Christianity's daily apocalypses

    It’s October, and since we’re all about the larger trends here at Theory of Change, we’ll be celebrating the Halloween season with a brief history of Satan and a look at modern-day Christian apocalypse literature.

    Like it or not, many Americans are greatly concerned with these topics. A 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of white evangelical Christian adults surveyed believed that Jesus Christ will return to the earth within the next 40 years. That was significantly higher than any other religious group, just 32 percent of Catholic respondents agreed.

    Speculating about how the world ends is probably as old as humanity itself. It was pivotal to the early formation and growth of Christianity. Early leaders of the faith frequently suggested it was just around the corner.

    Over time as those hundreds of predictions failed to come true, the end times literature tradition kind of faded away in Christianity. But it came back with a vengeance in the mid-20th century, however, after the development of nuclear weapons. Christian apocalypticism really took off though after white evangelicals began to emerge as a political movement in the 1970s.

    In this episode, we’ll be featuring Christopher Douglas, he’s a Professor of English at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. We’ll talking about some of the things he’s learned as a scholar of Christian Right and of Biblical literature.

    EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2021/10/far-right-american-christians-think-theyre-living-bible-story-and


    GUEST INFO
    Christopher Douglas on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/crddouglas

    Essay: "Apocalypse Now and Then: How a Biblical Genre Shapes American Politics"
    https://religiondispatches.org/apocalypse-now-and-then-how-a-biblical-genre-shapes-american-politics/

    Book: If God Meant to Interfere: American Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right
    https://www.amazon.ca/God-Meant-Interfere-Literature-Christian/dp/1501702114

    Academic Site:
    https://www.uvic.ca/humanities/english/people/regularfaculty/douglas-christopher.php


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing! We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://flux.community/podcasts/theory-of-change

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield

    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/fluxcommunity

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Thank you very much!

    • 1 hr 3 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
26 Ratings

26 Ratings

Gotham212 ,

Excellent

Vital podcast about the Venn diagram of religion, the far right, and politics. If you lean left & wonder who these ppl are, Matthew is an intelligent, thoughtful guide & knows these subjects well.

BarkleyGirl ,

Always relevant

Matthew Sheffield consistently brings relevant topics to his audience with top experts and well-researched articles if you follow him on Twitter, which is how I came to know about this podcast. Sheffield brings quality content for the serious-minded.
I highly recommend his work in all forms: podcast, flux magazine, Twitter, wherever life may take him…

Ken Carroll ,

Excellent podcast

I’ve listened to the discussion with Greg Sargent and found it quite simply fascinating and incredibly informative. I can see other topics of direct relevance to me, such as 30 years of Linux and open source, in this newly discovered (to me) podcast.

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