The (New) Luddite Show

Dec 3, 2015

The Luddites led a violent labor movement against 19th century technologies that threatened their jobs - today we use the label to describe people who still write letters with paper and pen or aren't on Facebook.  On today’s show we’ll look into what we’re referring to as “The New Luddites”; swathes of folks, from digital natives to millennials to boomers, who feel nostalgic for the simple way life used to be -- whether real or imagined.

Listen to the full show:

The Original Luddites
Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom.
Credit Public Domain via Wikipedia /

Luddites, inspired by the by the robin hood-ish, perhaps mythical folk hero, Ned Ludd -- were responsible for smashing the  assembly lines of their day – stocking frames and other machines that threatened to make textile workers obsolete. These weren't people who couldn’t figure out how to program the Blu-ray player, the Luddite insurrection was fierce. At one point in history, more British soldiers were fighting Luddites than Napoleon's army in Iberia. Brian Merchant is senior editor for Motherboard, and joined us to explain the O.L.s, the original Luddites.

All Hail the Humble Mason Jar
Credit Eric Kilby via flickr Creative Commons /

The Mason jar. Once the favorite tool of home canners and 4-H fair competitors, the Mason jar has recently come to symbolize the conscious consumer, or at least those who would wish to appear conscious. So how did the Mason jar transform from a humble method of preserving food into a trendy glass for all occasions? We spoke to Ariana Kelly is a writer and author – her article “The Mason Jar, Reborn” appeared in The Atlantic.

Analog Social Media & Artisanal Pencil Sharpening

David Rees is the host of Going Deep with David Rees, a show that explores the everyday things we take for granted, like How to Swat a Fly, How to Light a Match, How to Tie Your Shoes, How to Climb a Tree.

He's also the author of the book How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants.

Related: Rolling Deep 2015 - A Trip Across America to Promote "Going Deep with David Rees"

The Last Man on the Mountain

Innovations can be transformative - but the shape and scale of that transformation varies widely, and not always for the better. This story about one man's long fight against the tide of technology, comes to us from Joe Richman, and the Radio Diaries podcast.  

You can listen to this segment again at

Bonnet Books

Amish fiction, or “bonnet-rippers” as they are popularly called, is big business in publishing. With titles like The Quilter’s Daughter and The Shunningthey sell in the millions – which is far more than the Amish population of the US. Ann Neumann is a visiting scholar at the Center for Religion and Media at NYU, and a contributor to The Baffler - where she recently wrote about the Amish takeover of the Evangelical romance market.

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Our Luddite show has nearly reached the end, but before it does we’d like to leave you with a little goodbye from the quintessential former Luddite – the grumpy but very relatable technophobe, lamenting for the way the world used to be. Robert Skoglund is  The Humble Farmer, who has been called “The Garrison Keillor of Maine”, ranting as only a true luddite can.  

You can listen to this segment again at