38 episodes

In a world of grey areas, margins, and fuzziness, What's That Noise?! pursues matters of confusion and clarity - however and whatever that means. Tune in for slightly academic and marginally intelligent discussions on a variety of topics with academics, researchers, community leaders, musicians, and noisemakers of all kinds! Episodes published on the 1st of each month.

What's That Noise?‪!‬ Tommy Cooke

    • Society & Culture

In a world of grey areas, margins, and fuzziness, What's That Noise?! pursues matters of confusion and clarity - however and whatever that means. Tune in for slightly academic and marginally intelligent discussions on a variety of topics with academics, researchers, community leaders, musicians, and noisemakers of all kinds! Episodes published on the 1st of each month.

    Episode 36: AI & Advertising Part 1

    Episode 36: AI & Advertising Part 1

    Today we chat Dr. Dillon Mahmoudi, Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland Baltimore County about his confusion with AI and advertising! Join Tommy, Al and Dillon in this first episode of a two-part series that explores the complexities of how targeted advertisements show up in your smartphone. Even with his background in computer science, Dillon is as confused as Tommy and Al about how automated systems find ways to build profiles about who we as consumers are. 


    How are your preferences measured? What happens with these data? What kinds of assumptions are made about who we are?... And we all happen, of course, to be cisgender white men. What happens in automated advertising when you do not fit the majority? 


    You might not find many answers to these questions in this episode, but you might just find that finding answers is not always possible...


    Stay tuned for episode 2 - release on February 1st!

    • 35 min
    Episode 35: Welcome to the show, Al!

    Episode 35: Welcome to the show, Al!

    Happy New Year, everyone! I am so grateful for two things!


    First, we have a new co-host! It's truly my pleasure to introduce my dear friend, Al Coombs to you. Al is a seasoned radio broadcaster who hosted and co-hosted shows in London, Ontario for over a decade. He joins us at WTNCast as a freshly-minted public school teacher, too! His warmth and interview experience is truly invigorating. It's such a pleasure to have you join the show, @thatalcoombsguy!


    Second, the podcast has re relaunched! For the past four months, Tommy and Al have worked together to refine the show's focus. You can expect a closer dive into noise-as-confusion with our guests, and especially so when that noise becomes political. We are excited to continue bringing exciting guests on the show who will talk about times they've encountering confusion, or closely-related noisy matters, like ambiguity, distraction, and so on. We're also looking forward to hear from our guests about how their field, profession, career, colleagues, and their professional and personal worlds around them encounter and deal with noise, too. 


    We don't expect that you'll leave with answers, perhaps just more questions. But there's so much to learn in confusion, especially when there's no clarity... Come be uncomfortable with us, and laugh a little, too. 


    Thanks so much for (re)joining us, friends!

    • 42 min
    Episode 33: PredPol

    Episode 33: PredPol

    This latest episode is a special one. Tommy has wanted to explore predictive policing for a while. He had the opportunity to do so as a sample case study for one of the classes he teaches at Queen's University: AI, Ethics & Society - a Masters of Engineering course where students use any media format they wish to explore the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence systems. 


    And so, this episode is presented a bit differently than what you are used to - but it is still driven by matters of confusion, and certainly in the pursuit of clarity. Tommy raises some hard questions as he looks into the history of PredPol. As he outlines right off the top, PredPol is a relatively well known system by this point - as too are its social and ethical implications. But the matter of how the system came to be so problematic is an important one, too. As Tommy argues, the biases, assumptions, and limited intellectual scope of its designers implicated how the system was built, what kind of data it uses, and what kind of algorithm it used. This lattermost point is an intriguing one, precisely because the algorithm PredPol is built on has virtually nothing to do with social, cultural, or political life. Rather, it was designed to detect earthquakes...


    Special shout out to João Lobato, the brilliant mind behind LASERS, whose EP you hear on this track. You can hear his incredible work here.


    Follow your host: @whatsthatdata | @wtncast


    Subscribe for updates!
    Email Tommy: wtncast@gmail.com
    Follow What's That Noise?! on Apple Music and on Spotify 

    • 44 min
    My Shadow is My Skin Episode 3: The Politics of

    My Shadow is My Skin Episode 3: The Politics of

    In association with the University of Texas Press, the third instalment of the My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora special series features, Prof. Mehdi Tavana Okasi and Dr. Roger Sedarat. Mehdi is Professor of Creative Writing at Purchase College of the State University of New York, who was born in Iran and became a refugee of the Iran-Iraq war, which led him to the suburbs of Boston. Roger is a Professor in the Department of English at Queen’s College of the The City University of New York. Roger was born in Normal, Illinois to an Iranian father, and grew up in San Antonio. Instead of talking primarily about their wonderfully powerful pieces, Tommy chats with Mehdi and Roger about what occasioned their coming together: the unexplained suspension of Katherine and Leila's Twitter account. A perplexing and confusing situation that remains unresolved after more than 6 months. Indeed, today's chat is about politicized censorship, the ironies of cancel culture, and of course, their catalysts: a pandemic riding out on the heels of the most incompetent President in American history. From the burden of hybridity, the policing of the imagination, and the absence of space for ambiguity, to the false ideal of whiteness and the commodification of lies, there’s something here for everyone. We begin by discussing the utter disappointment of Katherine and Leila’s twitter account suspension, and Twitter’s refusal to not only reinstate it, but their lack of willingness to actually investigate what happened.


    Follow your host: @whatsthatdata | @wtncast


    Follow our guests, Prof. Mehdi Tavana Okasi: @mokasi and Dr. Roger Sedarat: @rogersedarat


    Follow Katherine, Leila and their contributors (IF THE ACCOUNT IS EVER REINSTATED): @IRANMusings


    Follow the University of Texas Press: @UTexasPress


    A very special thanks to Dr. Babak Elahi and The Resonant Freqs for sharing their incredible music for this special series. Dr. Elahi is also a contributor to My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora.


    Subscribe for updates
    Email: wtncast@gmail.com
    Follow us on Apple Music and Spotify
     
    Note: revised episode published on evening of March 9, which includes a reference correction to Prof. Okasi's title. Episode listening stat prior to change: 27. 

    • 1 hr 8 min
    My Shadow is My Skin Episode 2: Errand

    My Shadow is My Skin Episode 2: Errand

    In this second instalment of our special series, in association with the University of Texas Press, Tommy speaks with Dr. Babak Elahi, Head of Department, Liberal Studies at Kettering University. Dr. Elahi is a special contributor to My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, not only as the musical talent behind the series' music, but also as author of chapter 25: Errand. Dr. Elahi reflects on his deeply personal piece, which surrounds the days and months leading to the loss of his dear mother. In his travel back to Iran, Babak negotiates navigates cultural, emotional, political, and social tensions that, in more ways than one, offer themselves rather productively as points of reflection about his personal and professional journeys as an Iranian-American living in Flint, Michigan. Dr. Elahi is a rich source of experience and insight about identity, justice, language, honor, belonging, and mobility. Babak is a gracious, articulate, and thoughtful speaker who has a lot to share about the values of family, community, and the importance of basic human connection. 


    Follow your host: @whatsthatdata | @wtncast


    Follow our guest, Dr. Babak Elahi: @babakelahi


    Follow Katherine, Leila and their contributors: @IRANMusings


    Follow the University of Texas Press: @UTexasPress


    A very special thanks to Dr. Babak Elahi and The Resonant Freqs for sharing their incredible music for this special series. Dr. Elahi is also a contributor to My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora - we look forward to his interview, indeed!


    Subscribe for updates
    Email us: wtncast@gmail.com
    Follow us on Apple Music and Spotify

    • 43 min
    Episode 32: Competing Perspectives on Data, Privacy & Ethics

    Episode 32: Competing Perspectives on Data, Privacy & Ethics

    From the vault of unpublished episodes comes with a fascinating conversation with Desmond Cox, an IT and software development professional who has a fresh and often competing take on Tommy's understandings and perspectives about data, privacy and ethics. During a trip to Germany in 2019, Tommy and his wife visited Des and Chrissy - good friends who moved out of Ontario to start new lives in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany. In this chat, Tommy and Des get to chat about their mutual passion for the politics of data and privacy, as well as their ethical complexities. What makes this conversation particularly important for Tommy is that Des has a radically different way of approaching and comprehending data, privacy and ethics - and rightly so. Des has over ten years of experience working on the inside of complex networked systems - in front-end and back-end development, coding in C#, Java, Python and JavaScript... whereas Tommy, has zero experience with any of this beyond his studies as a social scientist; there are considerable differences between social scientific and computer scientific perspectives on data, ethics and privacy. As we will come to find in this episode, this is largely due to the fascinating tensions between theory and practice. Should we be surprised that on certain large-scale issues, Tommy and Des agree almost entirely? Would it be any less surprising to find that micro-level issues strike a dissonant chord between the two? This episode covers a lot of micro and macro terrain: studying versus doing network surveillance and security, DeMorgan's Law, considerations of not just 'how' or 'where' but 'when' ethical questions ought to emerge around matters of data protection and digital privacy, the social and political dimensions of walled gardens, the privacy paradox - and even a contemplative dialogue between the two about a new way of conceptualization privacy itself: as the unfettered space necessary to 'grow'. 


     


    Follow your host: @whatsthatdata | @wtncast


    Subscribe for updates!
    Email Tommy: wtncast@gmail.com
    Follow What's That Noise?! on Apple Music and on Spotify 

    • 1 hr 14 min

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