Ayahuasca in San Francisco and Mike Newton via flickr Creative Commons, via &

Ahhh. We finally have a week full of warmer temps. What better way to spend your afternoon work break walk than with Word of Mouth? Pop in your earbuds and turn it up; today's show heats up, cools down, and explores real-life risks of the internet and a scandal relived through television.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

The Art Of The Emoji Translation

Apr 3, 2014
Emoji Dick

While researching our story on why there isn't a hot dog Emoji (it's more complicated than you think), we came across the interesting phenomenon of people translating things into Emoji. Here are some of our favorites:

Boston Magazine, Times Books, Hot Dog Emoji Coalition

Today on Word of Mouth, the Boston Marathon bombings happened a year ago this month, but questions about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possible involvement in a triple homicide remain. Investigative reporter Susan Zalkind discusses the complicated case, and whether police missed their chance to apprehend Tsarnaev long before the marathon bombs. Plus, between online hacking, stored search histories, social media settings, and malware,protecting one’s privacy has become more important, and more complicated than ever. So, how much is our anonymity worth? We'll ask  And finally, there are over 700 different Emojis out there, and plenty of interest groups asking for more. Why, for example, is there no hot dog Emoji? Turns out, the answer is surprisingly complicated.

Internet Access & Net Neutrality, Explained

Mar 27, 2014

Taking on the Telecom industry with “net neutrality,” the concept that all websites are treated equally in terms of cost and access.  There’s a rising concern that internet companies are gaining too much control over online content, and a court recently ruled in favor of the industry. We’re talking with the author of a new book called “Captive Audience” and see what may happen next. 


Your Essential ICANN Primer

Mar 19, 2014
Taylor Quimby

You may have heard news this week that the U.S. is “relinquishing control” over the internet – more specifically, that the Obama administration has decided not to renew its contract overseeing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.  The decision has sparked a vocal backlash from conservatives.  Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tweeted “Every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the internet to an undefined group.  This is very, very, dangerous”.  But let’s face it – most of us have no idea what ICANN does, or how this decision will or will not change the way the internet functions.

Rob Fleischman joined us to explain all things ICANN. He is chief technology officer at Xerocole, and our explainer of all things wired.

3.19.14: Big Data, ICANN & Body Farm

Mar 19, 2014

Today on Word of Mouth, we're unpacking big data. Should we fear or embrace it? Then we get a lesson on ICANN - what it is and how the decision made by the Obama administration not to renew its contract to oversee see it actually affects the way the internet functions. Finally, bodies! How do you study the effects of certain conditions on human remains? With a body farm, of course.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Viral Images: Duping The Internet Masses

Feb 25, 2014

Niagara Falls, 1911. Completely frozen over with a group of people standing where they would otherwise be sucked into the rushing waterfall. Incredible? Absolutely! Totally truthful? Not exactly.

Behind The Scenes Of A Viral Video

Jan 22, 2014
Alexander Ward / PRX

If you search for marriage proposal on YouTube, you’ll get hundreds of over-the-top versions of popping the question, complete with song, dance, choreography, and lots of tears. Among the most popular is “Isaac’s Live Lip-Sync Proposal”—which has nearly 25-million views. What goes into making a viral proposal video? Turns out, a lot. Alexander Ward brings us this story.

Sara Plourde

This is “Rethink 2014”, presenting ways of challenging our habits and assumptions and the status quo. Today: paying for creative content. It’s the axiom of the era: you can find anything on the internet--for free!  The challenge has been figuring out how artists, writers, musicians and content makers get paid for their work. Take the music streaming service Spotify. Sure, users can discover new artists and find a lot of great music, but Spotify is under fire for failing to compensate the artists who make that music. In an opinion piece for the The Guardian last October, David Byrne wrote, “If artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they'll be out of work within a year.” Maybe the big-name musicians have it wrong. We bring you the story of an unknown songwriter who is raking in the Spotify royalty checks, one song at a time. PJ Vogt of On The Media’s new TLDR podcast and blog, has the story.

Kevin H via Flickr/CC -

For years people in New Hampshire have gone without broadband internet access - and now, some of them have it, through a project called Network NH Now.

mandiberg via flickr Creative Commons

Every day, the internet is inundated with more information, and more data to be to be categorized, organized, scrubbed, and filed away in a timely manner. Millions of miniscule tasks need to be performed each day to keep things running smoothly. Computers can do some of this mind-numbing work; other tasks are done piecemeal by hundreds of thousands of people for almost no money; Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for this kind of work. Ellen Cushing is staff writer for The East Bay Express, she wrote about the work called “micro-tasking,” which pays a pittance, drawing comparisons to working in a sweatshop.

bhautik joshi via Flickr Creative Commons

New Year’s Eve is a day of reflection and celebration and each December we mark the passage of time by inviting NHPR’s own Brady Carlson on the show to share his list of the year’s biggest web trends. Last year his list included: Kony 2012, Kickstarter, and Gangnam Style. Seems so long ago, doesn’t it? Brady joins us again to reflect on the web trends and memes of 2013, and what they reveal about our collective state this year.

Corie Howell via Flickr Creative Commons

Sebastian Thrun, the man behind perhaps the most disruptive idea to hit higher education -- massive open online courses or more commonly... MOOCs -- has decided to pack it in. While some traditional educators might be saying “I told you so”, proponents of online education are worried about what this shift means for its future. Rebecca Schuman is education columnist for Slate and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri. She wrote about Sebastian Thrun -- the acknowledged godfather of MOOC’s -- and his pivot away from them.


Well, the United States has survived another fiscal standoff--for now. Just a few hours before midnight, Republican Legislatures conceded and agreed on a deal to fund government operations until January 15, 2014. The deal ended 16 days of a partial federal shutdown, and today the gears of government sputtered back to life. The crisis was no laughing matter for furloughed workers and worried economists – but, provided plenty of grist for online memes and jokesters. With the fiasco behind us – for now – we’re looking at how the government showdown played out online. Brady Carlson is with us, NHPR’s host of All Things Considered and our regular web culture analyst.

kristagonzales67 via Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this month, the F.B.I.. shut down Silk Road, a black market website that the bureau described as “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet today.” Buried in the “dark web,” Silk Road allowed its users to anonymously trade virtually every drug imaginable in addition to other illegal goods and services that included counterfeit and murder. 

Though the site has been stopped in its tracks, similar online websites remain in business. has provided an open forum for black market trading for many years and is still going strong. Matt Stroud is a Verge contributing writer covering law, business and scams.

Christopher Hermelin via The Awl

When Christopher Hermelin moved to New York, he lived like countless other jobless 20-somethings: no prospects, no money, and rent due at the first of the month. But instead of kicking around in a café, he hit the streets with a ten dollar typewriter and a sign printed: “Stories while you wait. Sliding scale, donate what you can.” And…it worked! Passersby paid him to write one-of-a-kind stories on the spot. While he isn’t the only person to make a living like this, on the streets of New York, he might be the one person whose photograph showed up on the internet. We’ll let him pick up the story from there. Christopher Hermelin is “The Roving Typist.”

via sciblogs

The internet provides a forum for public conversation, debate and interaction. At times, it may seem more less public square and more like the Roman forum…where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults can devour conversations and proclaim judgments by like an unruly mob.

Media outlets have long-debated how best to moderate online comments, where some of the worst internet trolling takes place…last month, Popular Science shut down comments on its website, citing, in part, a study from the University of Wisconsin measuring the influence negative comments have on other readers. (We spoke with study co-author Dietram Scheufele back in March about the phenomenon he calls “the Nasty Effect.")

Jake Ward is Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, he’s with us to talk more about the decision and response so far. 

Curtis Gregory Perry via Flickr Creative Commons

Activism and innovation among Greeks started long before that country's debt crisis. In 2002, an Athens community fed up by slow and expensive service set up its own private internet. More than 1000 members of the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network have free access to the web with speeds up to 30 times faster than commercial telecom carriers in the area. Given global concerns over the extent of the NSA’s surveillance program, independent “mesh” networks like the one in Athens could be adapted in other communities.

Joe Kloc is a reporter for The Daily Dot.

Photo Credit KP Tripathi, via Flickr Creative Commons

Congressional approval ratings are currently scraping the floor at about 15%. Voters report feeling frustrated at the dominance of political posturing over action. The exasperation has many wondering what our Legislature does exactly, and what in the Sam Hill are they talking about on the hill. A new web-based tool allows citizens to track congressional discussion, bills -- including state bills -- and regulations concerning issues they care about. From raw milk to education bills to campaign finance, Scout is designed to deliver real time results and encourage a more informed public. Our guest is Tom Lee the director of Sunlight Labs, the technical arm of the Sunlight Foundation – which works to make government transparent and accountable. He and his team helped develop Scout.

From the moment the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital yesterday in the early stages of labor, the whole world was watching.  Not literally of course – but if the Royal Family allowed cameras in the delivery room, you can probably bet we would have been. 

kristinmarshall via Flickr Creative Commons

At any given moment invisible information is traveling all around you. There are two obvious examples: radio waves…or if you’re listening online, the wireless signal emitted by your router. Researchers at MIT have been experimenting with these signals and they’ve developed a type of radar that uses Wi-Fi signal that can be seen – and used to detect movement and even see through walls. Dina Katabi, is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and she spoke with us about her new project, what she’s calling “Wi-Vi.”

sarahelizamoody via Flickr Creative Commons

Our sunniest content of the week, all in one smart and snazzy hour. This week, misogyny online, the return of legal internet poker, an app that proves you're on a public beach, surprising summer reads, and a photographer's documentation of vanishing highway rest stops.

Mr. L via flickr Creative Commons

More than two years have passed since the Department of Justice seized and shut down three major American online-gambling websites, charged site executives with bank fraud, and froze millions of dollars in player funds. Since then, social gaming from Zynga and the like has been thriving on social media sites, attracting millions of players to their digital tables, using only fake money. At the same time, real money gambling is also back on the internet - on April 30th, Station Casinos in Nevada became the first site to offer real online poker since the 2011 shutdown.  The questions are: will the for-profit sites draw millions of social players and will they put real money on the line?  Michael Kaplan is a contributing editor for Cigar Aficionado and has been covering the return of online gambling.

Richard Holt® via flickr Creative Commons

Privacy is a topic we’ve visited and revisited on this program, especially when it comes to the web community’s reaction to shifting policies on our social media and email accounts. Revelations made by former CIA and Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s sweeping electronic surveillance program could forever change the “privacy conversation.” Joining us with more on the internet’s reaction to the unfolding NSA story is Brady Carlson, our always-vigilant eye on social media and the world of the web.

AlexanderVorobiov via 500px Creative Commons license

A new study from the University of Chicago shows that couples who meet via online dating sites tend to have better relationships than couples who meet for the first time in person. Here to tell us more about these findings is Ingrid Wickelgren, editor with Scientific American MIND.  She wrote the article, “Does Finding Your Spouse Online Lead to a Stronger Marriage?”

Rebecca Lavoie

Earlier this week, Yahoo!'s board of directors approved the tech company’s one point one billion dollar purchase of the micro-blogging site Tumblr, the latest move in CEO Marissa Mayer’s bid to revive the flagging tech company. The purchase has some Tumblr users up in arms, and others simply shrugging their shoulders at what just seems like the latest acquisition in the wake of so many to come before it.

Joining us to explain a bit more what the purchase of Tumblr means for Yahoo! and fans of the site is Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief at Mashable.

jieq via flickr Creative Commons

A government lab announced earlier this month that it’s been operating a quantum internet at Los Alamos for the past two years. Which led us to wonder, um, WHAT IS A QUANTUM INTERNET???  Joining us to explain it is Rob Fleischman, Chief Technology Officer at Xero-Cole, and the guy we call to help us understand things like, you know, quantum technology.

Jan Hruby via Flickr

“Internet Addiction Disorder” is a disputed diagnosis in academic and mental health circles, but just try going a day without your daily habit of checking email, the news, weather, sports, recipes, and Facebook, and you may find yourself jonesing for access.

hahatango via Flickr Creative Commons

From anticipated weather events to shocking acts of terrorism, many people now turn first to social media to react and interact during moments of crisis – this past Monday was no different.  Shortly after two explosions rocked Copley Square near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, the internet was flooded with graphic photos, video uploads from witnesses, and tools to help loved ones connect with runners and spectators at the race.  With the online element of disaster response now an essential part of how we view these events, we wanted to break down what worked and what didn’t.  Joining us is Brady Carlson, NHPR’s host of All Things Considered, and our in-house expert on all things internet.

Leo Reynods via Flickr Creative Commons

Our niftiest and spiffiest content, all in one great show. This week, a look at the shifting human condition. Holocaust survivors being turned into holograms, a Russian "Swiss Family Robinson" that missed most of the 20th Century, corporate anthropologists, transplant "tourism," the nasty effect of internet comments, and a former professor pens a memoir about being stalked by an ex- student online.