Introducing Techs on Texts

Techs on Texts is a podcast featuring conversations with technologists about the literature that has influenced them. I’ve created it with the goal of getting people who work in technology to read more literature.

There are a few reasons why I think this is worth doing.

First, I have a hunch literature can help us make better technology. While much of business culture is built upon the belief that one’s purpose in life is to optimize things, literature can help people consider the implications of events on both individuals and populations. By normalizing discussions of literature and the humanities among technologists, I hope to influence business culture and motivate the creation of more humane and ecologically aware technologies. This becomes more critical as technology increasingly mediates people’s access to information, their relationships with other individuals and institutions, and ultimately how they perceive reality.

Second, I think podcasts are a good medium to counteract the ongoing decline in humanities in higher education. From the New Yorker in February 2023:

During the past decade, the study of English and history at the collegiate level has fallen by a full third. Humanities enrollment in the United States has declined over all by seventeen per cent […]

To be clear, I’m under no illusions that this one podcast will make up for all this, but it’s worth trying.

I majored in English and Spanish literature, and while I’m glad I did, I understand why people are less likely to study the humanities today. Higher education in the United States is much more expensive than when I went to school, and it makes sense for people to pursue skills like engineering or business administration that will give them greater earning potential. That said, we’re losing something as more people adopt this utilitarian approach to education and life.

The good news is that you don’t have to get a degree in literature to enjoy it or benefit from it. You just have to read, and this podcast is an invitation for people in technology to read more. I should also point out here that I have been very inspired by the Minds Behind Maps podcast in which Maxime Lenormand explores the humanity behind geospatial technologies and the Very Bad Wizards podcast for its frequent discussions of short stories, novels, and films.

Finally, these are just conversations that I want to have. The interplay between literature and technology is fascinating to me, and I want an excuse to spend time exploring it. My goal is to publish one conversation a month.

If you have suggestions for books or guests, or want to reach out for any other reason, please write me at jed [at]

Thanks for listening.

Jed Sundwall