Back to Work

Back to Work

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.



#273: Knives and Spoons

May 24, 2016 at 4:45PM • 2 hours 8 minutes

TOPIC: True or false dilemmas?

This week, things kick off with a discussion of how to be helpful. Especially at your kid's school, but really just in general. This leads to a rumination on "roots" and what makes us feel like we're part of a community.

The main topic is about the future of machine learning, voice control, and all things "smart." What do we want, what can we imagine, and how do our own biases and habits constrain our sense of possibility?


#272: Surprise Endoscopy

May 17, 2016 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 42 minutes

TOPIC: Such small hands.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's acquisition of an iPhone SE and how much he's loving it. This leads to some ruminative discussion about how we pick devices based on how we prefer to use them.

Also, some love for Spider-Man in the Civil War movie.


#271: Gravy Dumpster

May 10, 2016 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 52 minutes

TOPIC: Grow what? Grow HOW?

This week, Dan and Merlin have a surprisingly passionate discussion about growth.

Companies gotta "grow," right? But…what the hell does that really even mean?

Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous.

Also, an important update on Pek Pongpaet.


#270: According to the Cabinet

May 3, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Opinion at Scale.

This week kicks off with a confession that Dan and Merlin are increasingly less interested in coverage of Apple's finances and the related Kremlinology and blind guessing about the company. Merlin announces the unlikely product he'd love for Apple to create (and why it'll probably never happen).

Also, lots of followup on apps and services for fitness and personal tracking.


#269: 65 Cigarette Butts

April 26, 2016 at 7:15PM • 1 hour 54 minutes

TOPIC: Finding stories and insights hiding in your data.

This week, Dan and Merlin dive deep into the new world of personal tracking. Dan has a new FitBit, and Merlin has a surprisingly complicated system involving many devices and apps. Great stuff you can try for yourself.

Also discussed: Merlin's weird cat, Deadpool, Pek Pongpaet the Professional Podcast Pundit, Alexa on Fire TV, a defense of Reed Richards, and Dan's advice on how to setup your own VPN.


#268: Tumblo Drylo

April 19, 2016 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 46 minutes

TOPIC: Putting an Overt Stake in the Ground.

This week, Dan and Merlin end up talking about the surprising stuff a Fitbit can do for you. Dan even buys one.

Also, some discussion of pope hats, NASCAR, (the amazing) Screens 4, and that failing restaurant by Dan's office that kinda looks like Terminus.


#267: Dear Iowa, I Have Enjoyed Your Corn

April 12, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

TOPIC: But, alas.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Smile's updated announcement about TextExpander and the ugly problem of blind internet rage.

Also, lots of talk about ponderous 80s movies and old TV shows, including Dan learning which program had that tiny tabletop robot.

Also, we are endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins.


#266: European Bachelor

April 5, 2016 at 4:15PM • 2 hours 4 minutes

TOPIC: Wow, times change.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and opportunities of subscription-based payment models. When do they work (or not) and how quickly does autopay fatigue kick in?


#265: Especially Doris

March 29, 2016 at 4:45PM • 2 hours 4 minutes

TOPIC: Welcome to Costco. I love you.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about breakfast sandwiches, the pain and suffering of dealing with Apple IDs, managing kids and their iOS devices, Merlin's weird week with Playstation Vue, and the science (or otherwise) behind iOS's Night Shift.

The main topic this week focuses on quality, values, and self-improvement. Are Dan and Merlin just cloud-yelling old men for wishing writers (and everyone for that matter) would try a little harder? Maybe. Maybe not.


#264: This Made Me Think of You

March 22, 2016 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 59 minutes

TOPIC: Serving the super-motivated super-fan.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about:

  • a modest request from Merlin
  • some interesting new options for viewing OTA broadcast television on Apple TV
  • the evolution (and often lost opportunities) of media delivery
  • highlights of yesterday's Apple event