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    Podcast Week: This Is Not A Game, Do I Want Kids?, Concealed with Art Simone

    Compiled by Tess Connery

    This Is Not A Game: How the legend of Ong’s Hat foretold the modern internet

    In his newest podcast, This Is Not A Game, award-winning journalist and documentary maker Marc Fennell explores the internet’s first conspiracy theory – the legend of Ong’s Hat.

    The six-episode documentary podcast investigates the unexplored world of tech hippies, eccentric web subcultures, and simmering paranoia, and follows Fennell as he uncovers how this tongue-in-cheek artistic experiment backfired on its creator and went on to influence much of what’s wrong with the internet today. 

    Podcast Week’s Tess Connery caught up with Fennell ahead of the Audible podcast’s launch.

    What was it about the legend of Ong’s Hat that caught your attention? How did this whole project come about?

    Fennell: “I’ve spent more than a decade covering the internet and technology through my other work, and it occurred to me that when it comes to technology, we often talk about the present and the future. We very rarely talk about how it is that we got here.

    “It’s a bloody weird story. The basic gist of it is that in the early days of the Internet, you’ve got this engineer who starts a joke amongst nerds that in the middle of the woods is a shack where a bunch of renegade scientists attempt to build a portal to another world in the shape of an egg. It’s objectively crazy, but the thing is, everyone who was online at that point kind of got it.

    “The thing that stood out to me is that it is a cautionary tale. You and I both know that the internet today is a complete trash fire – it’s never been easier to distrust each other. And it struck me that this was a cautionary tale, because everything bad about the incident today, we were warned with this story. This tale is absolutely a parable from the past that could have warned us about how we got here.”

    Podcast Week: This Is Not A Game, Do I Want Kids?, Concealed with Art Simone

    How did you approach the research on this project? The early internet is a whole other beast, how much of it was still around for you to find?

    Fennell: “One of the reasons this conspiracy theory was so intoxicating for people is that the puppet master, Joe, would put out little breadcrumbs of real and fake, and people who got sucked into it really felt like they had to investigate, they had to engage. They had to do a bit of work. 

    “That means they have a sense of engagement, they’re like, I discovered this, I did my own research, which meant that there was a sense of pride. So people kept a lot of stuff, people kept their memorabilia and the bits of pieces of information they’d acquired. That made it a little bit easier to keep track of.”

    You have a few podcasts under your belt now. What is it that keeps you coming back to audio projects?

    Fennell: “The really interesting thing with audio is that the listener is an active participant, because they are using their imagination to create the world. We’ve gone harder with sound design on This Is Not A Game than any other project I’ve ever been involved in. It’s easily the trippiest, most enveloping audio experience of anything I’ve ever made – the whole idea was to pull people into the rabbit hole. 

    “What was super important for this series more than any was to create that that sense of getting lost in the woods with you and your imagination. That’s one of those moments, one of those ways in which audio is just so powerful, because it employs your own imagination as a listener.”

    What do you hope people take away from This Is Not A Game?

    Fennell: “We all share responsibility for the internet, because it’s now so big and so ubiquitous, and it connects us all. It was built as a reflection of certain human tastes and certain human ideas about how we should interact, but now it belongs to all of us. If we want the internet to be less of a trash fire, if we want the internet to be a more trustworthy place, it is now it is no longer just the responsibility of tech companies and government – although they play a role. 

    “We also have to change how we behave and we treat other people online. There is a transference that’s occurred on our watch from theirs to ours. I think we all have a responsibility to cultivate the web that we want.”

    [Listen to This Is Not A Game here]

    Do I Want Kids? KICPOD’s Laura Henshaw announces limited series podcast

    It’s a question rarely posed in public: do I want kids? It’s also one that Laura Henshaw from the LiSTNR podcast KICPOD, co-hosted with Steph Claire Smith, is pondering.

    Do I Want Kids?

    After raising the subject on a recent KICPOD episode to support from people across the world, Henshaw has recorded a limited series podcast with people from all walks of life – from parenthood mentors to child-free advocates, career-driven professionals, stay-at-home mums, young and older parents, relationship experts, medical specialists and her own husband, BULLFROG CEO Dalton Henshaw, about this sensitive decision.

    Do I Want Kids? discusses the question in a safe and honest space and begins on Wednesday 15 May 2024 with episodes every Wednesday and Friday for seven episodes.

    [Listen to Do I Want Kids? here]

    Concealed with Art Simone returns for season three

    ARN’s iHeart has announced the return of Concealed with Art Simone for its third season. Hosted by Art Simone, acclaimed drag queen and performer, the podcast delves into the world of secret lives, uncovering the fascinating stories of everyday Australians.

    Concealed With Art Simone

    Drawing from her own experience of leading a double life as a drag queen and performer, Art Simone guides listeners through conversations and revelations that shed light on hidden facets of her guests’ lives.

    In the upcoming season, listeners can expect a line-up of guests with their own secrets waiting to be unveiled. From a private investigator with a penchant for breaking and entering, to the voice of the Melbourne landmark Flinders Street Station, whose towering presence is matched only by the allure of his voice.

    [Listen to Concealed With Art Simone here]

    MID: Holly Wainwright rebrands the mid-life experience for Australian women

    MID is a new podcast working to redefine mid-life for Australian women. Hosted by author and podcast personality Holly Wainwright, MID offers the grown-up conversations women want, busting ageist beliefs and proving that life in mid-life is anything but ‘mid.’


    Season one guests range from chefs and broadcasters to authors and advocates, including Julie Goodwin, Shanna Whan, Cath Mahoney, Jacinta Parsons, Bryony Gordon, Katherine May, and Jane McCann.

    [Listen to MID here]

    Get The Real Story with Joe Hildebrand

    Launching on Thursday, the latest NOVA Original podcast The Real Story with Joe Hildebrand breaks down the biggest news stories of the week with journalist and broadcaster Joe Hildebrand at the helm.

    In The Real Story, Joe takes a closer look at the major news headlines of the week and unpacks the real stories behind them.

    The Real Story Podcast This Is Not A Game

    Ahead of the launch, Hildebrand said: “I live news and politics and I love news and politics. But these days both are so crowded, twisted and driven by competing agendas that people can’t even agree on what’s true anymore.

    “I’m going to be pulling apart all the biggest stories and issues so people can see who the big players are, how the sausage is made and discover for themselves what’s bollocks and what’s real.”

    [Listen to The Real Story here]

    Podcast Week: Marc Fennel This Is Not A Game

    The post Podcast Week: This Is Not A Game, Do I Want Kids?, Concealed with Art Simone appeared first on Mediaweek.

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