“In Between” is a chronologically nonlinear soundscape, created from the “dead moments” of recorded interviews I have conducted over the past three years. I reassembled these lost snippets of conversation — none of which were included in initial broadcasts — to reconsider those moments I had previously overlooked.

Liner Notes

Published: Claremont, CA, USA (April 2019)

Remixed: Bangalore, India (August 2019)

This piece was first made for Electronic Music Studio, a Pomona College music class. The conversations took place in Birmingham, AL and Los Angeles, CA. The opening sound is taken from the THX inspired “Choose Your Weapon,” the first track on Hiatus Kaiyote’s 2015 album of the same name. The ambiance was recorded on a rainy February day at the Claremont Colleges. The tracks were mixed, filtered, and delayed in Logic Pro X.

The title hopes to convey a double meaning. In each conversation, the moments selected occurred “in between” those which were the initial focus. The moment in…


In 2009, the Indian government embarked on a wildly ambitious project: provide all 1.2 billion Indians with their own digital ID. Crazier still, they did so when only 10 percent of the population was connected to the internet. The solution at the time seemed so elegant, almost providential. Link the ID to something everybody already has — themselves. One decade, and one billion enrollees later, the state of Aadhaar is far more complicated.

What It Is

Aadhaar is India’s Social Security number, kind of. There are two main differences. First, Social Security is almost 85 years old; Aadhaar is 10. Second, Social Security is, by definition, a social insurance program which has over time morphed into the “de facto” national ID. Aadhaar, though initially an opt-in program, has now become mandatory for just about everything.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list: bank accounts, tax filings, food rations, crop subsidies, college scholarships, mobile SIM cards, train tickets, and school meal programs. …


Though Badami is only 200 miles away from Bangalore, it feels like it could be its own country. The tiny town in northern Karnataka is a quiet, religious place — centered along one main street. It is also home to some of the best sport climbing in India. Taking an overnight train each way, I spent the last week exploring Badami with a kind, funny, and impressively multi-cultural group from Bangalore.

Getting There

There is something almost cinematic about trains — especially the trains that crisscross India. On the South Western Railway’s trip from Bangalore to Badami, everything is constructed of wrought iron, coated in off-beige paint that is chipping healthily. Massive bolts punctuate the walls and ceiling, giving the train an industrial texture worth of its massive, churning diesel engine. Chain-link straps hang from the ceiling, covered in a wonderful and gaudy red-faux leather.

I walk down the corridor, passing sets of women in colorful Saris settling in to sleep next to women in black Hijabs. With roti, men scoop up fragrant…


Today, I write my first “listicle,” a truly genius form. Taking other people’s content, repackaging it with the hottest “hot takes” and serving it back to you, lukewarm. Here’s a small window into my thinking through books, podcasts, and articles that have stuck with me over the past months. Each of these pieces has informed my current thinking here in India, even if the path was circuitous.

Hello Dear Readers!

I apologize for the email woes and delays. I really thought this Mailchimp thing was going to be more simple, especially considering that they advertise it all over the podcasts I listen to! And people (like me) who listen to such podcasts are always thinking our opinions are important enough to blast through the SMTP ether. Anyway, I have heard your concerns loud and clear! So we are going to change things up a little bit.

After today’s note, I’ll stop sending entire posts via email. They never appeared properly, and people couldn’t read them. Instead, every…


In an incredible bout of good fortune, I spent my first Friday in India at a panel with two world-famous tech entrepreneurs, Vinod Khosla and Nandan Nilekani. In fact, Nilekani even built Aadhaar, the very technology I have come to study. This is what I took away from their conversation.

Vinod Khosla and Nandan Nilekani are two titans of the tech world. Both alumni of Indian engineering schools and both decades-old billionaires, the two produced a large crowd at St. John’s Hospital Auditorium in Bangalore on Friday night one week ago.

Khosla left for California many years ago, where he became especially infamous for trying to privatize a piece of California’s sacred public coastline. Nilekani not only stayed in India, but in 2009, also took the awkward leap from CEO to civil servant by heading the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAID). …


Though the word “technology” first conjures images of silicon transistors and chic laptops, the formal definition is much broader. Marshal…

Though the word “technology” first conjures images of silicon transistors and chic laptops, the formal definition is much broader. Marshal McLuhan called it a direct “extension of man.” Economists see it as the sum total of knowledge and information that society has acquired. I see technology as the evolution of means, the constantly changing methods, to do what collective groups have always done: make meaning of the world around us. …


If journalism is how we talk about our politics, then what should we infer from the recent explosion of podcasting?

When you read Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker article “Binge Listening” in the November 19th, 2018 edition of the magazine, you will walk away with an uncanny sense that podcasting is significant in ways you had never previously considered. If you then refer back to the story online, in a bout of beautiful irony, you’ll be prompted to listen to it instead.

The service is provided by the start-up Audm, who’s wagering that a combination of audio’s convenience and general screen fatigue will make articles read by professional voice actors a compelling alternative. Curio is following an identical business model, just…


The capstone project of all politics majors at Pomona College is creating a book list of 12 works. The collection is supposed to encapsulate one’s understanding about a topic in politics. I chose to explore journalism, and more specifically, modern journalism’s collision course with the digitally-networked reality of the current era.

Having selected the works, written the essays (some of which have been altered for publication in previous posts), and presented to a general audience, the only unfinished aspect is defending my arguments against a panel of Pomona professors this coming Thursday. …


The news can be defined as information about events, individuals, and forces outside the realm of one’s immediate, knowable reality. The news media, then, are the means, methods, and mediums (media being the alternative plural) by which this information transfers from its origin “out there” to you. I highlight this process of information transfer because the incredible capacities afforded by digital technology have obscured it so well. Information arrives instantly, making it seem as if it never traveled at all. Information arrives unrefined and raw, making it seem objective. …


The capstone project of all politics majors at Pomona College is creating a book list of 12 works. The collection is supposed to encapsulate one’s understanding about a topic in politics that has shaped the way that student has come to view the world. I chose to explore journalism, and more specifically, modern journalism’s collision course with the digitally-networked reality of the current era.

If there is one unequivocal truth to be deduced from only reading books about journalism, it is this: 2019 is not the field’s first crisis. If we allow ourselves a second truth, it is probably that…

Eli Benton Cohen

Traveling the globe to see the politics of digitally networked life. www.elibenton.co

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