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May 15, 2017 | by  | in Podcasts |
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99% Invisible

Who’s the sadist that designed push/pull doors? What makes a sign internationally understood? How do you design a nuclear symbol so that future generations know not to disturb toxic waste? Why did a small-town American church congregation feel obliged to smuggle political refugees into the country? When did Sweden switch over from driving on the left to the right? Where exactly is Busta Rhymes Island? Well, if you’re at all interested in questions like these, then I implore you to search for 99% Invisible on your listening devices.

All of these questions and many more are answered in fascinating detail as each episode goes in-depth on an aspect of design, from curious oddities to political movements and everything in between. The information is presented in a clear and engaging way by host and creator, Roman Mars.

Listening to his show has given me a renewed appreciation for the urban space that we live in. For example, I was on the crowded route 17 bus into university while listening to Episode 257: “Reversing the Grid”, about solar panels. Did you know they could return excess unused electricity back into the electric grid, reducing your bill? Did you also know that the first man to hook up solar panels to the power grid did it without asking permission from the power company? I had never once thought that solar panels, of all things, could have such a rock ‘n’ roll origin!

Times can be tough, and it doesn’t hurt to take the time to appreciate the history and method of what we experience as global citizens. To start with, I recommend jumping in from whichever headline catches your attention, as each episode covers its own subject (the earliest episodes are shorter and not as high quality, audio-wise). It’s easy to take the designs of what we experience for granted, but it’s the clouded peak that we don’t end up seeing; clever design ends up being 99% Invisible.

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