Documents that Changed the World

Joe Janes in his famously messy office. Photo by Mary Levin.

Joe Janes in his famously messy office. Photo by Mary Levin.

If you’re not listening to this podcast, I highly recommend you do so now.  The premise is simple: each episode Professor Joe Janes of the University of Washington Information School (my alma mater) reviews an important historical document selected from throughout the entire breadth of human history to discuss its significance.  If this sounds dry to you, you’d be wrong.  Each episode is short (usually no longer than 15 minutes).  And Joe Janes manages to keep the focus on the human drama and controversy surrounding the document in question.

The unique approach of this podcast is that Janes not only goes over the sociological and cultural significance of the document, he discusses the document’s importance from the perspective of information science.  What was the message of the medium? (To loosely paraphrase Marshall McLuhan) And how did that medium, in the context of its time, lend to the importance of the document?  How does that medium relate to the way we communicate information today?

Even if you’re not a librarian but just have an interest in pop information science (a la Clay Shirky or David Weinberger) or if you’re just looking for something to supplement your steady diet of Radiolab or Star Talk, these short and sweet podcasts should satisfy your nerdy little desires quite nicely.

You can find the podcast on the iTunes Podcast Directory.  I, personally, found it via Instacast.  I’m guessing it’s available in other podcast directories as well.

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