Today we do a bit of spelunking into the history of Flash Forward, revisit last year’s anniversary, and talk about how the future sausage gets made.
Things I talked about on this episode:
- Tamara Krinsky’s work
- The limits of empathy
- A Queen of Sorts
- On the Ice
- Scientists Excited About Humpback Whales Singing In Waters Off New York City
- On the Verge of Extinction, These Whales Are Also Shrinking
You also heard the giant Five Year Anniversary Futurestravaganza on this episode, which features the following voices:
- Alice Wong, disability activist and host of Disability Visibility // Snip Snip Snip
- Amy Slaton, professor and interim head of the history department at Drexel University // EARTH: The Cement Ban
- Angeli Fitch, voice actor and lawyer // EARTH: The Ocean Farm
- Arielle Duhaime-Ross, host of VICE News Reports // Greetings From Paradice
- Ashley Shew, associate professor at Virginia Tech // Enter the Exos, Dr. Doolittle
- Avery Trufelman, host of The Cut podcast // EARTH: The Polar Flip
- Calvin Gimpelevich, author of Invasions // BODIES: Switcheroo
- Carl Evers, Patron
- Chris Dancy, the most connected man on Earth // My Everything Pal
- Damien Patrick Williams, PhD student at Virginia Tech // Rude Bot Rises, The Witch Who Came From Mars, Double Trouble
- David Agranoff, author of The Vegan Revolution With Zombies // Where’s The Beef?
- Ernesto D. Morales, founder of Studio Malagón and Object Solutions // Love On The Brain
- Gina Tam, assistant professor of history at Trinity University // POWER: The Sleeping Lion
- Janelle Shane, artificial intelligence wrangler // Our Father Who Art in Algorithm
- Janet Stemwedel, professor and chair of the philosophy department at San Jose State University // BODIES: This Is Not A Test
- Jared Dyer, Patron
- Jon Christensen, adjunct assistant professor at UCLA // California Dreaming
- Kathy Randall Bryant, Patron
- Katie Gordon, clinical psychologist and host of Psychodrama // Farm To Tablet
- Kelly & Zach Weinersmith, adjunct assistant professor at Rice University & cartoonist, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal; authors of Soonish // Easy Bake Organs
- Lina Ayenew, entrepreneur and author // POWER: The Sleeping Lion
- Matt Lubchansky, cartoonist, Please Listen to Me // The Commute From Hell
- Meredith Talusan, author of Fairest: A Memoir // Bye Bye Binary
- Michelle Hanlon, co-director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law // CRIME: Moon Court
- Morgan Gorris, Earth systems scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory // EARTH: The Desert Creep
- Naomi Baron, professor emerita at American University and author of Words on Screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World // Tree Free
- Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, associate professor of history at The New School // The Exercise Pill
- Queer Futures Collective // BODIES: Switcheroo
- Sandeep Ravindran, science writer // Fungus Among Us
- Sav Schlauderaff, PhD student at the University of Arizona and co-founder of the Queer Futures Collective // BODIES: Switcheroo
- Shoshana Schlauderaff, artist and creative director of the Queer Futures Collective
- Zia Puig-Mannah, founder of The Starseed School and co-founder of the Queer Futures Collective // BODIES: Switcheroo
- Zoe Schlanger, journalist // Water Would Be Nice
- BetterHelp: Affordable, private online counseling. Anytime, anywhere. Flash Forward listeners: get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/flashforward
- Skillshare: Skillshare is an online learning community where millions come together to take the next step in their creative journey, with thousands of inspiring classes for creative and curious people, on topics including illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more. Start with two free months of Premium Membership, and explore your creativity at Skillshare.com/flashforward.
- Shaker & Spoon: A subscription cocktail service that helps you learn how to make hand-crafted cocktails right at home. Get $20 off your first box at shakerandspoon.com/ffwd.
- Tab for a Cause: A browser extension that lets you raise money for charity while doing your thing online. Whenever you open a new tab, you’ll see a beautiful photo and a small ad. Part of that ad money goes toward a charity of your choice! Join team Advice For And From The future by signing up at tabforacause.org/flashforward.
- Tavour: Tavour is THE app for fans of beer, craft brews, and trying new and exciting labels. You sign up in the app and can choose the beers you’re interested in (including two new ones DAILY) adding to your own personalized crate. Use code: flashforward for $10 off after your first order of $25 or more.
- Purple Carrot: Purple Carrot is THE plant-based subscription meal kit that makes it easy to cook irresistible meals to fuel your body. Each week, choose from an expansive and delicious menu of dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks! Get $30 off your first box by going to www.purplecarrot.com and entering code FLASH at checkout today! Purple Carrot, the easiest way to eat more plants!
Flash Forward is hosted by Rose Eveleth and produced by Julia Llinas Goodman. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. The voices from the future this episode were provided by
And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to www.flashforwardpod.com/support for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.
That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.
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S7E06 – “What Is The Future Of Flash Forward?”
[Flash Forward intro music – “Whispering Through” by Asura, an electronic, rhythm-heavy piece]
Hello and welcome to Flash Forward! I’m Rose and I am your host. Flash Forward is a show about the future. Today’s episode is actually a special one, so we are going to break the format a little bit and do a couple different things. So buckle up, get ready. We’re going to the future, but in a kind of different way.
First, we’re going to celebrate the six-year anniversary of this podcast, which actually happened a couple of weeks ago and I totally missed it because I am in denial that it is already June. I’m not sure how that happened and I, in fact, refuse to accept that. So in my mind, it is still, like, April-ish, so let’s all just go with my collective delusion.
Anyway, to commemorate the anniversary, we are going to do a little bit of a retrospective, a little bit of a travel back in time, and then a little bit of a travel forward. And after that, I’m going to do the podcast’s first-ever AMA episode, Ask Me Anything, where I answer all the questions that you folks submitted on social media, and on Patreon, and give you a really deep look at the inner workings of Flash Forward, and the inner workings of my brain; and whether you actually want that or not, you will have to decide once we are done.
So first, the anniversary. What I want to do to celebrate is actually revisit the episode that we did for the five-year anniversary of the show last year. For that episode, I asked every single past guest, voice actor, advisor, anybody who’s been involved in Flash Forward, to contribute a message to the future. The prompt was: What would you like to tell someone 50 years from now, in 2070? Now, I came up with that idea, to ask for these voice memos to the future, early in the year last year before the coronavirus had spread and become a global pandemic. But by the time the episode was really going into production and these voice memos started coming in from people, in the US we were in the midst of the first big wave of the virus. A lot has changed in the last year, and a lot hasn’t changed. And I thought it might be interesting to revisit those messages now, about a year later, and see how it feels, how they feel to listen to now.
So, without further ado, here are the messages that Flash Forward experts wanted to send to the year 2070.
[contemplative electronic/piano music begins]
Dear future, I wish you Godspeed.
Hello, people of 2070.
Hi, Rose and Future People…
Hola, mis amores…
First off, I want to say hello to all the cyborgs, mermaids, humanoids, aliens…
Dear person in 2070…
Oh, hello. This is Janelle speaking to you from the past. And I guess the first thing I want to say is: Sorry for what we are doing to set you up for some pretty bad situations, probably, in the future.
I’m really, really sorry.
I realize that people in your year probably don’t have many warm feelings for those of us living through 2020. I promise it is not our favorite year either.
I’m sorry that there are probably hardly any insects or amphibians left and that you’ll probably never be able to see a coral reef. Those were really cool.
ASHLEY SHEW (to daughter):
What message would you like to send to someone living 50 years from now?
Daughter (to Ashley):
I would ask if we’re still protecting the planet because that’s one of the most important things in the world. I’d wonder if there are going to be as many trees there, or if species that have lived while I’m a child have gone extinct.
There probably will be.
It’s been 100 years since the first Earth Day and so many of the things that existed then likely don’t exist for you now. Lots of species, but also whole places, rivers, rainforests, and those reefs. I’m seriously so sorry.
Ashley (to daughter):
Is there anything you want to say to someone 50 years from now about these things? Maybe someone your age – which is eleven – in 50 years? You’ll be 61 then.
Daughter (to Ashley):
Well, I’d tell them to protect what little nature they have left, if there is little left. And if we have a lot left because people have taken a stand, to make sure to protect it.
What do you like most about nature?
I like the fact that it’s always changing, it’s always in constant motion.
Just like you.
Love you. Thank you.
I am sure the general attitude you have towards us is bewilderment. “Why didn’t you change? Why didn’t you do anything with the science when it was so clear?”
For people in 50 years who look back on this time, I hope they’ll realize how many people see injustice and violence around us, and want to change it, and have no idea how.
But mostly I’m very sorry, truly sorry that we didn’t do more.
I’d like to take this chance to not say sorry.
[music shifts to up-tempo, provocative electronic]
Some of us knew that there were even bigger problems in 2020 than the cruelties of the for-profit healthcare system. That the stuff – the cars, the yoga mats, the smartphones, the Insta-pots, the bacon burgers – were killing the planet, and that producing and distributing the stuff meant really awful lives for lots of people at the time, and probably assured awful lives for people well into the future – that is, into your time – but we bought them anyway. We knew what they meant and we didn’t stop. We didn’t elect the people who had better ideas. We didn’t resist. And I’m not saying sorry.
To say sorry is a comfort. And the possibility of comfort – of being forgiven for the consequences of our action – is the problem in 2020. So I’m rejecting the chance to say sorry to the folks of 2070. Instead, I’m aiming to start making the right choices. So that’s all. Hope you’re safe. Hope you’re healthy. Hope there’s still hope. Thanks.
[music fades down]
Hello, People of the Future. This is People of the Past. You may have reasons to believe we were not a very smart people in the past. First of all, how dare you? That’s a common stereotype. Second, it’s wrong. We’ll prove it by perfectly predicting life in the year 2070.
[whimsical sci-fi music begins]
In these days of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people make irresponsible, even dangerous, predictions about the future. This is because they propose all sorts of wild developments instead of simply extrapolating from current trends. In order to say nothing wrong, we will only be extrapolating from the most up-to-date available data.
First trend: Home bread production has roughly tripled in the past month. If we continue tripling over the next 600 months, we find bread creation per person will increase 216 millionfold. Loosely speaking, that puts us at 10 billion loaves of bread per person per year. Or, approximately enough to coat the planet in bread to a height of 50 loaves by the year 2070. The good news is that hunger has been solved. The bad news is, many people have probably choked to death in the sea of “artisan style” baked goods.
Second trend: Liquor sales are up. As a first estimate, we found an article saying that people in Dayton, Ohio were observed carrying armloads of liquor coming out of the grocery store. Having been to Dayton, Ohio, we estimate that the average Daytonian only requires one fistful of liquor per grocery trip. We conclude that the new trend is a quintupling of liquor consumption every month. And we believe these results can be extrapolated to all humanity because Ohioans are incredibly, incredibly average. By the year 2070, we find a 100 trillionfold increase in per-capita consumption of spirits.
If we assume population continues growing, despite certain dietary trends, we find seven septillion gallons of liquor must be created per year. Enough to replace Earth’s oceans several million times. By the year 2070, Earth will be like Saturn’s moon Titan. Only instead of water, we will have one massive, subsurface Long Island Iced Tea. And the surface crust will literally, actually, be crust.
Third trend: To satisfy the monthly octupling of toilet paper demand, all plant life has been converted into gentle, yet resilient, three-ply squares. These are now soaked in ethanol and highly flammable. Once these catch fire, they will burn for a few years, only finally going out after they’ve completely exhausted Earth’s oxygen supply, which will not be replenished because no plants remain and because the sky is now an impenetrable shroud of smoke.
Will humans survive in a world deprived of sunlight and oxygen, with little contact with other living beings, and with vast liquor consumption on a constant basis? I can say confidently, from the year 2020, that we will. In fact, we will thrive.
Fourth trend: Adaptation. Given the quantity of people who are now home, and who have exhausted the entire libraries of Amazon and Netflix, we expect a factor of 10 increase in baby-making. That takes us to a worldwide fertility rate of 24 children per woman. This creates a population doubling time of about three years. The happy result is an enormous number of humans for natural selection to select against until we are whittled down to only those beings who can survive in a state of perpetual carb-loading and inebriation. The sloshed will inherit the Earth.
That is our prediction, drunken fish people of 2070. Please know that from our vantage here in the dark days of 2020, we never lost hope. Though we are sad to have missed out on Utopia.
[music changes fades down]
The message I would like to send someone living 50 years from now is very simple: 42.
Kathy Randall Bryant:
Hi, my name is Kathy Randall Bryant. I’m a pastor by training. But right now I’m the full-time caregiver to my two girls.
To Rebel and Roar; now that you are 54 and 52, respectively. First, I hope you are well. I hope you are still able to laugh with your full bodies the way you did today. I hope you can go outside and smell the green of spring, the gold of summer, the burnished red of fall, and the white of winter. I’m sorry for mistakes I’ve made and assumptions I’ve held, even as you teach me new ways of seeing the world. Keep teaching me, and those around me, better ways of understanding what we have now. I look forward to seeing your face again, and I can’t wait to see what experiments you share at your table. I love you.
Here are some haikus to someone 50 years from now:
If you can hear this
There’s still hope for humankind
to maybe fix this mess
We dreamed of jetpacks
And flying cars but the
I wonder what tech
Will be awesome yet mundane
50 years from now
[contemplative electronic-xylophonic music begins]
Okay, so I’ve been thinking about what I want to tell someone 50 years in the future. And unfortunately, the advice I wish to relay is not poetic, or smart, or timeworn, or anything. I feel like I don’t have anything that I could teach the future. I feel like all that I can do is document, or attempt to document, the moment we’re living in.
As a historian, often the hardest thing to recapture when we’re chronicling the past is how people felt at a particular moment. Not the policies they made, not what got reported in the newspaper, but how people felt. So, I just want to use these couple of minutes to talk about the way I feel right now, and the way I think a lot of other people are feeling about the moment that we’re in.
The first thing I want to tell you there in 2070 is, that whole bunch of photos that you see from the early 2020s, when we all have terrible-looking hair and look like we’ve been crying a lot? Those are from the pandemic.
I am recording this message after more than a month of quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m sheltering in place near San Jose because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.
Yesterday was again the worst day yet in Los Angeles, where 81 people died.
Queer Futures Collective:
We are being treated as disposable. No one is looking after us. No one is going to work to make this easier for us.
One of the things that historians often wonder is: Did they know? Did they know they were living through a transformation? And it’s not all that often, one, that it seems that people did know and did feel, “Wow, things are really changing.” But also, it’s hard to have the sources to actually assess that awareness or not. So, I’ll tell you right now, it does seem like we’re living through history.
And I want to say “Hey” to the humans in 2070; 50 years from now. No part of what’s happening for you now was inevitable.
And I feel like the message I want to say to people living in the future is that, um… how do I put this? I can so vividly imagine a future where everything gets wrapped around the coronavirus outbreak. I feel like, as an old lady, I’m going to be correcting people all the time. Like, “No, people were using ‘viral’ before. That was a thing. Screens were also already a thing. We were already devising ways to avoid each other, and have food delivered to our doors. And society was already extremely, rigidly striated, and it was already really hard to live and get by, and that the coronavirus really only drew these things into stark relief.”
History moves… history is very queer. Or I guess, time is very queer. Both things can be true at the same time. Nothing just happens instantaneously.
If I were to send a message to someone 50 years in the future, I would ask them to learn the right lessons from history. I think it’s really natural to look to the past for guidance when we see uncertainty, and oppression, and violence all around us. And we look for patterns, which is a good thing to do. But oftentimes we will fix ourselves onto a particular analogy, and I think that that will often blind us to the kinds of oppression and violence that are happening around us. It really narrows our view.
As an environmental historian, I believe history should be useful for the present and the future. And I’d like to take this occasion to send one reminder to students in the future, 50 years from now, in the year 2070. Remember this: Shit happens. Or to put it more politely: Contingency matters.
What I mean by saying we should learn the right lessons from history, I think we should remember that exact moments in the past never repeat themselves. And by presuming that they will, we blind ourselves to tragedies that unfold right before our eyes.
Some might even say that contingency – that unpredicted stuff happens – is really the only domain left that historians are uniquely trained to try to understand, explain, tell stories about.
By looking for perfect metaphors and analogies to the past, we lose sight of how millions and millions of guises violence and oppression can take, and how it can transform, and how it looks like something different even if the same kind of oppression and violence is still happening. And when we spend all of our time looking for something exactly the same as the past, we end up ignoring it or even legitimizing it, right? Or arguing over the accuracy of our analogies.
We really specialize in what the models can’t explain, that shit happens, that history matters.
It’s not that the past has nothing to teach us. It teaches us the multiple guises in which violence, oppression, can happen and how we legitimize, explain away, downplay, or wipe from memory as it is happening in real-time.
Think of a classroom in a university. I hope you still have those in 2070. It is filled with seats equipped with a writing surface for taking notes. The seats all face a lectern at the front. That is structure, from the configuration of the classroom to the organization of the whole university. Now the students file in, sit down, and take notes as a professor stands at the front of the room and lectures. That is reproduction. Together we are all reproducing the structure of the university, year after year.
And what about agency? You as a student have some agency. You chose to learn this subject, presumably to shape your own future. You could attend or skip class today. I, as a professor, have some agency too. I can choose how to teach this course, but teach it I must to keep my job. And then, suddenly it is all over. On the last day of class, the classroom sits empty. No students, no teacher. A viral pandemic, abetted by an inept government response, led by a corrupt, idiosyncratic president, has changed everything. That’s contingency. Shit happens and that can change your future.
Oh, my god. Five minutes. Sorry, I’m turning into my mother, leaving these rambly voice messages.
[music changes to calmer, flowing]
Ernesto D. Morales:
Dear 2070. You may be 50 years closer to the complete optimization of daily life, but you still stand to gain from a relationship with your past, specifically with the humble corporation by the name of Object Solutions. Divided by time we may be, but united we stand in the goal to streamline humanity into a seamless consumer experience. You may have more advanced technology, bigger data, but we still have that lucrative connection to the human soul. To that end, I slide my proposal across the tables of time. Object Solutions invites you to a formal meeting at our headquarters, 50 years ago today.
With our guidance, you can have access to a society that’s still separable from artificial intelligence. These days, if you try hard enough, you can still get a human on the phone. You can still truly know yourself, and connect with others, with only minor guidance from an app. Personally, I have more close friends than I do smart devices. But that time is fading fast. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to capitalize. I’m not talking corporate merger – that could step on some butterflies. But let’s call it ‘transactional time travel’. Object Solutions is poised to be the corporate steward for the future you wish you were.
I think you’ll find a lot of opportunities in this time period. 2020 is not too early, not too late.
[music changes to more urgent, epic]
2070. Hello. I think a lot about you. First, let me say, while you’re probably caught up in all the nostalgia that’s everywhere you look for the 2050s, let me tell you that you are living in one of the best of times, right now, here in 2070. How do I know? Well, sit down. You’re probably not gonna be ready for this. I’m living here in the year 2370. Yep, that’s almost 300 years into your future. I’ve read a lot about your century, and specifically your decade.
So let me answer a few questions for you before I go. Our time is really limited when we send these transmissions back.
First question. Yes, humans finally do leave Earth. We actually build that home on Mars we were promised. And not the temporary, crappy, one we got in 2030. No. A real one, the one like we were promised after the Great American Collapse of 2052.
And no, we don’t conquer death in the future. You see, as you remember, after the first full-time BCI, or brain-computer interface, recipient was attached to AI to form our first hybrid intelligence in, I think, 2046, we thought that would be it. Having people inside AI with all their memories, hopes, and dreams would create a new place for us to live. Unfortunately, sometime in your next 40 years, I think around 2112, we find out that mortality is part of a system of sorts, that functions outside of our worlds, outside of our consciousness. It kind of keeps a cosmic order. It’s important.
So it might seem scary. Times have that effect on people. The world is really divided. And we’ve seen this before. Our ability to dream, be lost in thought, have nightmares, or even just wonder out loud something when we’re alone; that was our first glimpse at what it was like to tap into this river of time. Here in the future, we all have the ability to change, not only the future, but our current moments. We’ve learned that using this feeling of daydreaming and hope has a way of reshaping our reality. We even have a term for it. It’s called Flash Forward. It’s kind of magical, and we don’t use the term magical lightly.
Take care. See you soon.
[music fades out]
This is my message to any minority who feels oppressed in 2070. I know that people might be telling you that there are more important things to worry about, that the environment is wreaking havoc on us, that there might be a new pandemic, that there are threats from nature all across the planet looming. But don’t let those people deter you from understanding that human problems are still problems that need to be solved and that whatever sufferings the rest of the population have are sufferings that you also experience and more.
I just listened to a climate scientist, of today, crying because she knew how bad the situation was and wished she could do more. And I think there’s a lot of us like that. And it may help to have that picture of humanity of our time, humanity of our past, as not being monolithic, as being a lot more nuanced and a lot smarter than sometimes we give the past credit for.
[relaxed, ethereal electronic music begins]
So I hope you, in the future, are also doing weird, smart, bizarre things that we in the past have not even possibly imagined. That is the beauty and the complexity of the history of humanity. So, hello from one part of it to another part of it.
Queer Futures Collective:
In 50 years I hope that time is held more gently, stop the rushing, stop the overwhelming noise. Return to our gentle state.
My hope for 50 years from now is that people won’t want to hold onto power as much as they do now.
I hope you exist, and if you do, I hope the entrenched opposition to the people trying to build a less cruel world has been overthrown or otherwise destroyed.
I hope that Covid-19 is only a story you heard from your grandparents.
My hope is that society will be more open to sharing power, and sharing thoughts and ideas, because they will have seen what people in this current age have gone through.
Maybe by 50 years from now, we’ll have learned that every time we lose one of these things, we’re losing too.
Queer Futures Collective:
We hope that knowledge is free and accessible. That institutions stealing ideas and enslaving their workforce are brought down, that no bodies are treated as disposable.
What I hope for the continent of Africa, and my country, Ethiopia, is that 50 years from now we embrace both our identities, our languages, and science and technology.
I hope that you’re listening to this at a time where you can talk freely about your emotions, your thoughts, and your struggles with no stigma attached.
Queer Futures Collective:
That communal knowledge is recognized for the power that it has and that it is prioritized.
Damien Patrick Williams:
I’m hoping that 50 years from now, you’re looking at the lessons that we’ve been trying to learn for the previous 50 years, and the 50 years before that, and the 50 years before that, and you’re thinking about them as places where we had good intentions but had not yet reached meaningful execution. I’m hoping that you’ve built on that as much as possible.
Queer Futures Collective:
In 50 years, I hope to see a world anew. Living in old age, a hardened soul, and a softened heart. Living in the gentle springtime breeze.
May you treasure the oracles that are in your communities right now, and I hope you listen to them with an open spirit and heart.
Hopefully 50 years from now, everything that I’m saying is second nature and you’ll just go, “Well, yeah. Of course.”
I hope people will listen. But I also understand on a deeper level, if you are there to receive this letter, then people must have changed. 2020 has been a challenging year, and my hope is – and you would know better than I would – that the people of my time realize how easily they can lose everything.
Queer Futures Collective:
We don’t always get it right, but we keep on trying.
And maybe that is because of hope. I hope that you are still trying to, even when you don’t get it right. I hope that you are still asking for what you need. I hope that you’re listening. I suppose what I would want to tell you is that we loved, and cared, and listened, and supported each other. We didn’t always get it right, but we kept trying.
[music changes, slowly building to more intense and magical]
There is magic around. Can you feel it – or is it just me? It is fuzzing between us, glowing among us, materialized through us, existing within us.
Can you feel it – or is it just me?
We are alchemists of change.
Look around. For real, look around…
It is important to pause, to remember these days. Write about them: breathe them. These days that are weirdly giving to many of us, so much pain and so much lucidity – all at once. Honor what we have pulled together. Honor what we have survived. Honor the magic of your body, of your mind, of your spirit, of your heart: Did you know you were this wise? Isn’t it obvious that we chose each other before? Isn’t it evident that we have known each other many times, that we have changed worlds together already – that we are made of magic stuff? I feel it in my heart. I have looked into your eyes another time. I know your soul from before. Somewhere else: we have hugged each other somewhere else.
Look around, this is it. Our elders are with us, holding our hands. Our earthling and galactic ancestors, the souls who take care of us, que nos cuidan with their love, who keep us alive, grounded en la tierra and in the sky: They are with us. Can you feel it – or is it just me? There is no~thing out of reach: and this is not a fucking metaphor. We can expand ourselves across erased histories.
We are the ones: The One who imagine and make universes whenwhere stars sparkle with care, kindness, love, and solidarity for all deemed valueless by systems of dispossession, exploitation, and extermination.
Look around. Feel it. We are the energy that nurtures any possible transformation. We time travel – transcending the im/possibilities of the present. We are the shapeshifters of the cosmos. We are alchemists of change.
Smell ya later…
I think a lot about how the things that we do today will be interpreted and understood in the future. I spend a lot of time wondering what people in 50 years, or 100 years, are going to think about the choices that we’re making now. But the thing is, we can’t really control how future histories will process us and look back on us. All we can do is try and make the best decisions today, to take the best steps forward right now.
In fact, I think it’s actually sometimes a bad idea to think too hard about how history will judge us because the choices that we make should not be fueled by some hope for a legacy, right? At least not primarily. They should be about how to help the world now; the people who need help now, the futures that are right in front of us. Tomorrow is just as much the future as five years, ten years, a hundred years. I don’t think you make a better future by spending all your time thinking about how the world of 2070 will regard us. I think we make a better future by making tomorrow better for the people who need it today.
Anyway, I am getting on my soapbox now, which I do try to avoid most of the time on this show, sometimes unsuccessfully. But relistening to that did get me thinking about how hopes for the future do or don’t age, even in just one year. And I’m really curious for you all, listeners, how listening to that felt now compared to, maybe, last year if you heard it then. Or if this is your first time hearing it, how it feels to hear it now. It’s like a weird little time capsule from the past about the future. So, let me know. You can email the show at Info@FlashForwardPod.com, or you can put your thoughts in the Facebook group, or on social media. Or you can just yell them into the void; that is also a totally good option.
Now we are going to take a quick break, and when we come back I’m going to answer all of your burning questions about the show, my favorite sports teams, and whales. But first, a quick break.
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Okay! It is AMA time. Ask Me Anything. So, I solicited these questions on Patreon, and on Twitter, and on Facebook, and on Instagram. If I don’t get to your question, I’m sorry. I will try and get to all the leftovers later, either in the newsletter or on social media. I’ll figure that out. A bunch of people asked about my tattoos, asking for, like, an explanation of them, and I’m just going to say that I’m not going to do that because it is not interesting to hear about tattoos you cannot see, via audio. But I may do a tattoo tour on Instagram at some point in the future if that is something that people are interested in. But I might not. Only time will tell. We’ll figure it out later.
For now, let’s get into questions. And we will start with the history of Flash Forward.
A couple of different people, Maite Santana Viñoly and Elysia Brenner, asked about the origin story of the show, like what started my interest in the future of science and society. How did I decide that the podcast was the best way to do that? Where did the show come from? How did this all start? So, here’s the origin story of Flash Forward.
I was a science journalist working on all sorts of different stories. And I had gotten assigned some stories by a couple of different publications about this really cool next-generation set of prosthetic hands that were really amazing. And you can see all these cool videos, and they can hold an egg, and they can do all these things. And so I went off and I was like, “Great, I’ll write these stories. I’ll write about this stuff.” And I called up a couple of people who use these hands, who are users of prosthetics. And I was really surprised to find that a lot of them actually said, “Eh, these sort of suck,” right? They are really hard to use. They take a lot of practice and training because they use, sort of, the electrical signals of your muscles and you have to really learn how to use them and control them. They’re really expensive. If they break and you don’t live really close to someone who can fix them, they can take forever to fix.
And I was hearing sort of all this stuff from people who use these prosthetics being like, “Yeah, it looks cool in the video, but like in reality, it still sort of sucks.” And I found that really interesting because at the time – and this was like 2010, 2011 – there weren’t very many people doing tech reporting from an analysis critical lens. There was a ton of gear reviews. There was a ton of, like, “Wow, Apple! Look how cool all of this tech is.” But there wasn’t a ton of stuff out there that was trying to do this analysis from a human perspective of, like, the users, particularly when it came to things like technology for disabled folks. And so I got really interested in that, and it seemed like there just wasn’t a lot of critical work about the future and about all of these, like, whiz-bang technologies that were being covered very breathlessly in science publications.
So I started trying to do that, and then a friend, Annalee Newitz – who you’ve heard on the show before, they are amazing – at the time, they were the editor-in-chief and the founder of io9 at Gawker and the, sort of, sister site of io9 was Gizmodo. And so Annalee was like, “We want to do a podcast. You do podcasts.” I was sort of freelancing, doing little science podcasts here and there. “Do you have any ideas for a show?” And I was like, “Boy, do I!”
So I found the original email that I sent to Annalee and I pitched three different podcast ideas. The first one, at the time, I was calling Then What? And it was what is now Flash Forward, starting out with a scenic dramatic setup and then talking about what that would be like. And then I pitched a couple of mini-seasons about, like… An Incomplete History Of… is what I was calling it. I’m just going to read to you from the email. I said:
I know io9 and Gizmodo are mostly future-oriented, but I think having a podcast about the history of certain pieces of technology or scientific touchstones could be really interesting and I do think it fits into this world. You can’t understand the future without the past, right? Here, I’m imagining that we would pick a topic every month and do one podcast every week looking at a different angle or part of a history of that topic.
And then the third podcast I pitched was called Why, Why, Why, which actually I still sometimes think about this show because I think it actually could be, if executed correctly, really interesting. But you know how when you are talking to a child and they just continue to ask why, and it’s like mostly to annoy the adults in their lives or siblings? But it’s sort of like, “Why do we have to go to the store? We have to get food. Why? Because we need to eat. Why? Because eating is how we survive. Why is it that we have to eat?” And basically this idea of taking that premise but trying to actually, really explain to, like, the logical conclusion why each of those steps happens and using scientists to do that, and how far back can you go and how far back can you explain?
So those are the three podcasts that I pitched and I was most excited about the first one, which was at the time called Then What? and now is obviously Flash Forward. Annalee liked that one the best too, so it was sort of a no-brainer to do that one. So those are the original three, never before heard ideas that I had pitched. So Annalee commissioned a pilot episode for Gizmodo of 23 episodes.
The first season was… they were really short. Each episode, we shot for under 20 minutes, usually one expert, sometimes two experts that you’d hear from, and the little scenes at the top. And so that’s sort of what it started with. Then at the end of that season, a lot of things had changed at Gizmodo. Annalee had left and moved on to something else. Also, Gawker, the parent company of Gizmodo, was going through, let’s say, a challenging time. If any of you follow, like, media news, media gossip, it was right when Hulk Hogan sued Gawker. And so it was… Everything was kind of like imploding a little bit. And so I took the show independent from there.
And that actually relates to a question that Gerald Taylor asked, which is: Why did you change the podcast name after season one? So if you are an old-school listener, back in the day, season one, it was called Meanwhile in the Future, that was the name of it. And I had to change the name after season one because that was the thing that Gizmodo wanted to keep. They said, “You can have the podcast, you can have the RSS feed, but we want to keep the name,” which I said, “That’s fine.”
A couple of other questions around, like, early days of Flash Forward origin stories, Kata Zarándy and asked: How did you meet Tamara Krinsky and how did she become a recurring voice actress?
So, Tamara was in the science communication/science journalism world early on and still is. Tamara’s great. I’ll link to her website in the show notes for this podcast. So, the secret of the first season is that I had no money to pay voice actors. I was paid $250 per episode of the show for the first season, and so I could not afford to pay voice actors. So a lot of the voices that you hear in the intros for the show are either me playing a bunch of different voices or Gizmodo staffers who were totally great, amazing, game to do this.
And some of them actually still do voices for the show. So, Brent Rose, who you hear on the show to this day, was a Gizmodo staffer at the time and volunteered to lend his voice to the show. And then Tamara was down and willing to do it as well for free. Today, I pay voice actors. Everybody gets paid, and that is thanks to Patreon, and ad sales, and all that good stuff. So, people do not do voice acting for free anymore.
Okay, so now we have some questions about the process of putting together the podcast, sort of like, what it takes to make Flash Forward. So Brian Smith, Alex Telander, David Spooner, and Noella all asked questions about: How many episodes do you have planned in advance? Do you have season and idea topics you want to do? Or do you sort of come up with them during the season break? How do you organize your research notes? Just sort of, like, “How do you put together the podcast?”
So, we tend to do five episodes at a time. We’re usually working on five episodes at a time. The season is always 20 episodes long, so that gives us a nice set of the episodes. The research process… So, originally when it was just me working on the show, the research organization system was a librarian’s nightmare because I would just dump all the PDFs into a folder and, kind of like, vaguely remember what they all were. And I had a big Google Doc that I would just, like, dump links into, and make notes to myself, and whatever.
Now that Julia is on board, they are very good at organizing things and they make a lovely outline every time, for almost every episode that’s kind of like, you know, “Here are people to talk to about this type of thing, and here’s a bunch of resources and links and everything.”
A couple of other questions about picking episodes. Noella asks: Are there topics that you have picked because you personally thought they would be fun or interesting?
And the secret of this show is that literally the only reason we pick episodes is when we think they will be fun or interesting. One of the nice things about making an independent show that is just me and Julia and no one can tell us what to do, is that we do just get to do things that we find interesting. If we worked for a big company, we might have to get more of an approval on certain things. But we just do things that we find personally interesting. And if something isn’t interesting to us, we just don’t do it.
I don’t know. I feel like there are ups and downs to being an independent podcaster. It is volatile, and uncertain, and can be really stressful, so you might as well do episodes you think are cool and fun. That’s really what drives this whole ship, is things that we think are interesting.
Okay, Eli Loehrke asks: Are there any futures you tried to do an episode about, but for some reason they never came together? Nevena also asks a similar question: What is the episode you always wanted to do but never braved doing and why? And then Daniel Solis asks: If you didn’t have to do all the work to produce it, what future would you want to feature? Or what future have you wanted to feature, but it was too much work?
So there are kind of two answers to these questions about episodes that we, kind of, wanted to do but didn’t end up doing, or sort of can’t figure out how to do. And the ones that we can’t figure out how to do are things where I feel like there’s nothing new for me to say about it that listeners probably haven’t already heard. The example I always give for this is driverless cars. You’ve heard about driverless cars; you’ve probably heard that driverless cars have been overstated and probably aren’t going to happen anytime soon in a big way. You’ve also probably heard speculation around, like, what would happen if a driverless car was hacked, and who’d be responsible in a crash, and all that stuff. I just haven’t really found an angle or a way into driverless cars that is interesting to me (see earlier point about things having to be interesting to me) and also feels like it’s going to tell y’all something new that you didn’t think about before.
That’s one of the big goals I have for every episode of Flash Forward, is that there is something surprising for people that they probably haven’t thought about. And if I can’t think of something like that for an episode, we just won’t do it. So that’s the episodes that I haven’t figured out how to do, or often highly requested ones that I can’t figure out a way to do that, like, is interesting to me and also feels like would be interesting to other people.
The other bucket of episodes that I would love to do, but we haven’t done and we don’t do and I would love to figure out a way to do, is more international episodes. So, Flash Forward, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve listened, is really US-centric. I live in the US. Julia lives in the US. Most of our experts are in the US. And I would… Obviously, the future doesn’t just happen in America and the United States of America. And I would love to do more international episodes, but I want to make sure that I’m doing them correctly, and doing them well, and not just, like, parachuting into a place that I don’t know very much about.
So ideally, if we were going to do a series that was an international series, which I’d love to do, it would require paying reporters who are in those countries to, kind of like, tell us what the most interesting futures to do there are and do some reporting for us there. And I just don’t have the budget currently to do that. So I would love to, and one of my goals this year is to apply for a couple of grants for that kind of thing. So that way we can maybe do an international season, or even miniseries, or something like that that talks about these more international futures because, yeah, I would love to make the show a little bit more international. I know right now it is very US-centric and listeners have noted it. And so, it’s a thing I’m thinking about a lot.
Carlos Romero asks: Have you experienced creative block during the show? Thought you ran out of futures or didn’t know how to piece together a script or a given future?
I’ve never run out of futures. One of the nice things about working on this show is that there’s, like, an unlimited number of episodes. You could make Flash Forward literally forever because there are always new futures to talk about. I’ve definitely had moments when I’m working on an episode where I’m like, “Oh god, I don’t know how I’m going to make this make sense.” Or what mostly happens is that we get pretty far into the episode production and I realize on, like, the Thursday before the episode goes up on the next coming Tuesday that we have a big hole in the episode and we really need someone to talk about “ ” thing. And usually what happens then is I panic, send out like 15 emails to different sources, assuming that maybe one of them will get back to me, and then most of them will get back to me, and then I’ll wind up having, like, five extra interviews in the episode.
Okay, a couple of last, sort of, general podcast questions. Katie Yu asks: What is something you wish other people knew about making a podcast? And my main answer to that is that it is much harder than you think. Maybe you don’t think it’s easy, but a lot of people will say on the internet or even in, like, publications… lots and lots of publications about podcasts will say things like, “Podcasting is so easy, all you need is a mic.” And that is true in the sense that, like, “Writing a book is so easy. All you need is a word document,” right? Like, it’s not easy. Even the podcasts that seem easy.
I think Flash Forward is probably pretty obviously a lot of work. I think most people who listen can see that. But even the shows that you listen to that are maybe just a couple people talking, if they’re good, chances are… Just take a listen to the list of producers at the end of the episode. Chances are, those producers worked really, really hard to prep the guests, prep the hosts, do all the editing, and cut out all the stuff that isn’t funny in a conversation that someone might have. Very, very rarely is a good podcast literally just someone sitting down and talking. That’s just, like, not how it works.
Moving on to other things, Abiola Akanni asks: What has the last year+ been for you with the pandemic, book release? What has been difficult and what has brought you joy?
That’s such a sweet question. I feel, sort of like, almost like survivor’s guilt about the pandemic. I’ve been very fortunate. We have been relatively untouched by the, like, wave of destruction that the pandemic has brought to so many people. We’ve always worked from home, so that hasn’t changed that much. And so it’s been kind of weird to be in a place where, like, I have the book coming out, and the podcast happening, and my day-to-day life didn’t change very much during the pandemic, which is sort of a very surreal feeling to feel like everything is normal. But it’s obviously just, like, not normal, right? Nothing is normal.
So it was really strange and it was really hard to promote the podcast and to promote the book even because it sort of feels like, I don’t know, so many people are still suffering, like… “Go buy my book,” right? It feels a little… I’m already not very good at self-promotion, and so it felt extra hard to have that be the case. At the same time, you know, I feel incredibly lucky to have something to promote and that my work life, business life, family life hasn’t been super affected.
And the thing that has brought me joy; well, I have some friends here in the Bay Area that I was able to stay in touch with and do outdoor safe activities with. I learned to roller skate with a friend and I’ve been doing my ceramics, which you can find on the Instagram if you’re into weird sculptural ceramics, which is what I do.
Pierre M. Baez Ortiz says: Favorite/most impactful movie and or book, either fiction or nonfiction?
If I’m honest, the most impactful book for me was probably A Wrinkle in Time. And actually, really, it’s the sequel, A Wind in the Door, because it had a bunch of things about mitochondria and I got very invested in that, and excited about that, and into biology because of that book.
Grace Hagger asks: What are some of your favorite podcasts?
Podcasts I listen to a lot of are Ologies, which I’m sure many of you already know about, Gender Reveal, which is a great show about gender. There is also a really great gender and science podcast called Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s, which is very fun.
On the fiction side, a fiction podcast I listened to recently that I actually want to listen to because I thought it was so good, it’s called Forest 404, and it’s from the BBC, and I thought that was a really good show. I really liked that one. And then one other one that I listen to pretty regularly is No Such Thing as a Fish, which is sort of like a science trivia comedy show that I really love.
Now we’re going to do a couple of questions about specific science and tech futures. Damien Moody asks: As a homesteader and ward of a small forest, I wonder about insect and wildlife loss and how it affects everything else. What would it be like to replace that loss with artificial creatures or even clones?
So, I’m not going to say that much about this question because we actually do have an episode that we’re planning. It’s going to come out in the fall-ish, like late summer. That is about this thing, so stay tuned. You will get the answer in an episode.
Sarah K asks: What do you think about a future where people gain the ability to turn into animals, either by transforming à la Animorphs or implanting their consciences? Would this make us more understanding of the natural world or less?
I love this idea. I’m obsessed with Animorphs. I read them all as a kid and I would read them all again. In fact, maybe I will read them all again. I think a lot, as you all know, about animals and about the ways in which we think about them, and think about their brains, and how they work, and what it would take for us to respect and recognize other kinds of intelligence or other kinds of consciousness that aren’t like humans. So, you know, I think that one thing that’s really interesting is that we often assume that if we could just step into the shoes of another person, or maybe creature, we could understand them, right? We could better understand and relate to them, maybe respect them. And that’s kind of, in some ways, some of the premise of Animorphs.
But there’s actually a lot of really interesting research in psychology that suggests that that might not be the case. So, there are a variety of simulated experiences; some of them AR and VR, some of them are more analog. For example, there are a couple of simulations that people will do sometimes to try and increase empathy for disabled folks by doing things like making people wear a blindfold around to, sort of, simulate blindness. But what they find is that a lot of the time at the end of these different simulations and experiences, people actually report… when you try to measure their empathy, it winds up going down because people think like, “Oh, that wasn’t that bad,” right? Or like, “Oh, I could totally do that.” And it winds up sort of backfiring.
So, I sort of wonder, if you could step into an animal’s body, would you actually be able to respect that way of thinking and being in a way that would actually increase empathy? I think a lot about… there’s a part of Sunaura Taylor’s book called Beasts of Burden – which is an amazing book and I highly recommend it – where she talks about the chimpanzees who were in the news a lot after they were being used for animal research but then taught sign language. This was a big thing for a while. And once they taught the chimps sign language, all of a sudden people were like, “Oh, no, no, no. We can’t use them for research. They can speak to us. They can speak sign language.” (Asterisk on that. I recognize that there is a lot of debate around whether they were actually speaking sign language or not. We’re not going to get into that on this episode.)
But there was this, kind of, public moment where people were like, “Well, wait a minute. We can’t experiment on these animals. They can talk.” And Sunaura Taylor points out, like, they’re the same animals with the same intelligence as before. But now, because they can talk to us in a specific way, we respect them more. And what does that mean for humans, for example, who can’t talk? Like, there’s a lot of, I think, bias and implicit human-centric-ness about our way of being, and communicating, and thinking, as being like the highest level there is. And I wonder if you were to step into, say, a squirrel’s mind, would you actually be able to see that as just as worthwhile or interesting as, you know, a dolphin or whatever it is, just with a different kind of way of thinking? I’m getting down on the rabbit hole tangent because I love this stuff. I think about it all the time. So that’s just some thoughts I have about that.
Colin Croft asks two questions. Number one: How confident do you feel about us getting through the current climate crisis intact? Firstly, as a society/civilization and secondly, as a species.
Whew! I’m going to give you a really annoying answer, which is, like, what does it mean to say ‘intact’? Some people will be fine. Some people will absolutely make it. Some people will not. The impact of the climate crisis is going to be extremely disparate and unequal. And I think that we have to kind of really interrogate what we mean when we say, like, ‘who’ in a society or civilization, and what are we talking about here? I don’t think the human species goes away. I think humans are a little bit too good at using resources and figuring things out, but who gets to survive, and who makes it, and who lives well and who doesn’t, I think is the big question.
Kathy Randall Bryant asks: What global futball team do you root for? League or country during the World Cup?
So, I am an American soccer fan, for better or for worse. And one of the funny things about being an American soccer fan is that you both have, like, the highest of highs with the US Women’s National Team, just globally dominant for decades at this point. And then you have the lowest of lows with the US Men’s National Team, which doesn’t qualify for the World Cup or the Olympics sometimes. And so, you know, yes, rooting for them; that’s who I root for, sadly. And in the Premier League, Leicester City has been my team for a while, which has been really cool recently; wasn’t cool for a long time.
And then, you know, the sort of sad, real answer is that any team in Europe that has an American playing on it, I will root for. So I rooted for Chelsea recently in the Champions League Final because they have Christian Pulisic. I will root for Dest, John Brooks, Tyler Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers. Any of our young players who are over in Europe, I will root for them. In the MLS, sadly, I am a Red Bulls fan, which I come by honestly because I was a fan of the team when they were the MetroStars. And I actually still have an old jersey with, like, the red and black stripes. I used to go to those games.
Another soccer question, Elliot McVeigh asks: How do you hope soccer might change in the future?
Big thing would be just more support for the women’s teams, which just get totally ignored, and don’t get the resources that they need, and don’t get equal pay. And so I would just love to see more support for the women’s teams.
Matthew Jackson asks: What are some trends today that you believe are not good indicators of the future?
I would say that probably people over-index on how much the current leaders of technology companies and venture capitalist funds that fund technology companies actually know about the future. I think that there’s a lot of, sort of, assumption that the guy who built Facebook is the guy to look for the future. And I think that’s largely untrue.
Second question from Matthew is: What is your favorite non-Flash Forward piece of media that you have created?
That’s a hard question. I like a lot of things that I’ve made. That sounds really egotistical, but I work hard on stuff. But I did make two episodes of the first season of the 30 for 30 podcast that’s about sports. And the two of the episodes that I made are both about women who do things that are just, sort of like, incredibly hard and cool. The first episode is about an all-women’s team that went to the North Pole, the first all-women’s team to go to the North Pole. And the second episode is about a woman who, depending on who you ask, scammed, or gamed, casinos out of, like, millions and millions of dollars and is this, like, secretive baccarat player. So I really like those. Those are both linked on my website if you ever want to listen to them.
Okay, this is the last section of the AMA. General questions about the future. Luke Gliddon asks: Language question. What are some words you’ve never heard people use – they’re either too obscure or of your own invention – that you think we will need or will need in our futures? What might it indicate if we start using the words you’ve chosen?
Oh, this is interesting. I think I’m going to answer this slightly more generally, because one of the things that is really cool about linguistics is that it changes really fast and can change to, sort of, suit the ways in which we want to talk about things. I do think that we’re going to wind up wanting more and more words to describe the distinction between our online lives, our work lives online, and our physical lives. And I want to be careful to not say that, like, the online world isn’t real, right? Some people say, like, “the real world” and “the online world.” Things that happen online are real. Many people meet online and are very good friends, having only met online. I have friends that I met on the internet, some of whom I’ve never met, but are some of my closest friends; some of whom are now my closest friends and we’re neighbors because we met on the internet. So, it’s not true that the internet is not real life.
But I do think that as we’re going to see a lot more people working from home, doing like this hybrid model, I do think there’s going to be an uptick in wanting specific ways of talking about being “on” in the work sense, online, and being “off,” and having that distinction between our online work, school, social worlds, and our offline ones, because I think you have to have that. Otherwise, you’ll just burn out, right? And I think a lot of people have seen that over the course of the pandemic when you work, and live, and eat, and play in the same space. You need to figure out barriers. And those might be physical, right? They might be moving your computer to a different part of a house, you know, when you do certain things. But I also think that there is a linguistic component to that. There will be ways to talk about whether you are on or off, like how you’re working and what stage you’re in. I think that that’s important because if you can name it, you can enforce that boundary, which is super important. So that’s just a thought that I have.
Kristin Farky asks: How has working on the podcast changed the way you see the world? Has it changed the way you plan your own future?
I think that I think a lot more about what kinds of futures I want to see. And then beyond that, like more specifically how to get there, like, what are the day-to-day things that I can do to get to that place, and kind of really trying to identify the places where I can make an impact and recognize the places where I might not be able to. And not wallow in that recognition of the places that I might not be able to but be aware of it and not feel totally lost and hopeless in those places. So, I think that’s been really helpful just, you know, for my anxiety, to kind of have a way of having enough knowledge now to know where I can actually do something and where I might not be able to. And know at the very least, even with places that I can’t do something, being able to figure out who is doing something and who to support on that.
And then the last question here is by Katie Yu, which is sort of a similar question to Kristin, which is: How much do you think about your own personal future as a result of hosting this show?
It’s a really good question. And I will end this AMA by talking a little bit about the future of Flash Forward and the ways in which I’m thinking about the next stages of this podcast. So, in 2019-ish, I actually thought about ending Flash Forward. The show wasn’t really growing, the audience wasn’t really growing. We had just done the mini-season series that… the season that was a bunch of different little mini-seasons of episodes and they didn’t go over super well. People didn’t love them, and listenership was down, and also at the time I had… like, my ad sales company hadn’t sold any ads. And so I thought, like, “Maybe… maybe Flash Forward is done. Maybe I should be done with the show.”
And obviously, the show is still here. You know, I’m still at it. But I do often think about, like, how do you know… Like, I mentioned earlier in this AMA episode, that there’s kind of a functionally unlimited number of episodes that could happen. So the show could, in theory, just keep going forever. But I guess my thinking is always like, “When is it time for me, Rose, to move to something else? To do something else?” And I don’t have a good answer to that question. I think it’ll be when I feel like I’m not learning anything anymore from the show, or I feel like I’m just, like, out of zest for it. Some months, I feel much more positively about the future of the show than other months.
But yeah, I’m always thinking about, like, what is the future of the show? If the audience just stays stagnant in terms of numbers, like if I don’t ever get any more listeners, at what point do I say, like, “Okay, that was a fun run.”? I mean, the show’s been on for six years, which is a really long time for an indie show, right? There would be no shame in ending it at any point. So, I do think about that a lot. What is the right time for the show to be done? I know that I don’t want to be making this show in, like, ten years. I know that I want to move on to other things and try other stuff. So, it’ll be interesting to see, kind of like, as I go, what happens.
So, obviously we’ll run to the end of this year and then we’ll think about what happens next. And so… This isn’t, like, a big announcement, like, “The show’s ending at the end of the year.” That is definitely not what I’m saying. But I do think about it all the time in terms of, like, what is the right way to… how do you plan for that, right? How do you plan for something to end?
So, that’s a very depressing way to end this Ask Me Anything episode. What else? What should I say that’s happy? Thank you all for your patience and for listening to the end of this. This is a very different format than normal. Usually, I script everything out. Here, I just sort of answered questions from very basic notes. I’m not as comfortable doing that. This is good practice for me. Normally I like to have everything, like, super scripted and checked. But here we are doing an AMA episode, learning something new every day.
We will be back on the 22nd with a regular episode where we’re going to get real dark in the brain, and I hope you like it. And thank you for listening. That’s it. AMA is over now.
[Flash Forward closing music begins – a snapping, synthy piece]
If you want to suggest a future that we should take on, you can send a note on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at Info@FlashForwardPod.com. We do genuinely love hearing your ideas! And if you want to discuss this episode, some other episode, or just the future in general, you can join the Flash Forward Facebook group! Just search ‘Flash Forward Podcast’ on Facebook and ask to join. You do have to answer one question. It’s very, very easy.
And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways that you can do that as well. You can go to FlashForwardPod.com/Support for more about how to give. If you become a supporter, you get things like a bonus podcast, a newsletter, a goody bag, a book club; all sorts of cool stuff. If financial giving is just, like, not happening for you, you can still help the show. You can go to Apple Podcasts and leave a nice review, or you can just tell your friends about the show. That genuinely does help.
That’s all for this, sort-of-not-future episode. Come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.
[music fades out]