Welcome to Kaleid, the IRC’s new podcast!

Media and data systems are now central in shaping not only what we think but how we think, who we are, and what we do. They can be beautiful, convenient, entertaining, and even essential, but how much do they help us meet the challenges that matter most in society and our lives? How much do they distract us or even contribute to our woes? Kaleid provides a window into the thinking of those who research how and why these systems succeed or fail, and those who experiment with new digital media technologies, forms, and content that might better serve public interests. Produced by the Imaging Research Center at UMBC, with host Lee Boot.

Listen to this one first. It’ll give you an idea of what the show’s about and why we can do Kaleid. Chiming in are Don Engel, Mark Jarzynski, Anne Rubin, and Anna Kroll.

We speak with US Civil War Historian, Anne Rubin, about the ways different forms of mediaófrom the penny press to social appsócan divide people and fragment ideas. We discuss the challenge of engaging the public in the real complexity of issues given that media prefer tiny sound bites. The conversation turns to the national discord around removing monuments, looking at monuments themselves as a kind of media.

We take listeners on an audio tour of an imaginary 3D world that immerses people in the entire landscape of factors that contribute to complex societal challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In a vast interior space modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, visualization researchers are exploring ways to represent not only up-to-the-minute data, but cultural attitudes, history, and politicsóall brought to life using unusual and innovative design. Epidemiologist, Lucy Wilson joins the conversation.

As central as media systems are to nearly every aspect of our lives, asking people to stop and think about them critically can be like asking fish to stop and reflect on water. In this episode, our interview with Rebecca Adelman, Chair and Professor of Media and Communication Studies, explores our relationship with media, the questions raised by an infamous diagram that looks like a plate of spaghetti, the data visualizations of ISIS, and whether certain things simply should not be visualized. Assistant Producer and graduate student, Anna Kroll gives her “digital native” take on the subject.

Article Mentioned: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

Part 1 of our 4-part series, Making Identities. This episode introduces the series and then presents the story of Kailea Merritt, a person gripped by concerns about the dangers of media for children, who believes she has a compelling answer. The episode features an interview with Baltimore school teacher, Roderick Johnson, who is on the front lines of this issue and its impact on students and learning.

Part 2 of our 4-part series, Making Identities. It features Theo, whose complex, intersectional, racial, and gender identity was able to emerge because of TV characters and film characters who opened doors, one by one. But how perfect and complex does media representation need to be for someone to see themselves in the world? Theo interviews researcher Bradley Bond for critical insights.

Part 3 of our 4-part series, Making Identities. This is the story of August Dent, a young man building his future aspirations on the examples set by social media influencersóor so he thought. We are surprised to find that his feet are standing on much more solid ground than even he realized. This encouraging episode features an interview with social media researcher Liselot Hudders of Gent University in Belgium.

This is the 4th and final episode in the 4-part series, Making Identities. Antionette (Nette) struggles to establish a presence in social media, and in life, because at the same time she wants to fit in and be accepted, she is kind of terrified about losing herself in the crowdóthat is, losing her individuality and being absorbed into norms she doesn’t like. Fortunately, she finds understanding and help from researcher, Michael Slater from Ohio State, who helps her think about this challenge in a whole new way and see a promising future for herself.

The Imaging Research Center logo (IRC) followed by the words: Visualization & Media, Research & Education