Michael McFaul has just returned to Stanford University after a couple of tumultuous years in Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He talks with Brooke about the tropes he saw in the Russian media while he was there, and what he's noticed in the American media since he's been back.
For the past four years novelist David Bezmozgis has been writing a book set in Crimea. His forthcoming novel, The Betrayers, was intended to be set in August 2014, but that isn't possible now. Brooke speaks with Bezmozgis, as he sits between manuscript lock and book release, about trying to adjust his fictional story set in a fraught, factual place.
The NSA has defended its controversial surveillance program by arguing that it just collects metadata, and therefore doesn't violate the privacy of individual Americans. But computer scientists at Stanford Security Lab have conducted their own simulation of the NSA's program, and found the metadata to be inherently revealing. Bob speaks with Jonathan Mayer, one of the researchers on the project, about how much can be learned just from the numbers.
When an earthquake sent tremors through Los Angeles this week, an algorithm called Quakebot allowed the LA Times to release the news faster than any other media outlet. Bob talks with Nick Diakopoulos, a Tow Fellow at Columbia Journalism School, about what reporters should keep in mind as algorithms increasingly play a role in newsrooms.
The seemingly arcane business of running the web recently made headlines when the United States government agreed to cede control of the Internet's global address book, also known as the Domain Name System (DNS). Bob talks with Bloomberg Businessweek's Brendan Greeley about the move and the future of internet governance.
Four times a year, members of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICAAN, take part in an elaborate ceremony (iris scanners!) designed to assure the world that the organization is doing its best to keep the web connected and safe. Brooke explains the meeting of the keyholders, with insight from Guardian reporter James Ball, who attended one of the ceremonies last month.