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 in 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 it 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 media—from the penny press to social apps—can 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 politics—all 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