If the idea of being all alone, in silence, for long periods of time fills you with dread, it might be hard to understand why anyone would choose to be a hermit. But throughout history and across all cultures, there have been people who choose to leave behind the life and people they know to live in isolation and silence.
This week, Shabnam Grewal asks: why do people become hermits?
Sara Maitland - writer, feminist and Catholic hermit.
Ansuman Biswas - artist and part-time hermit
Michael Finkel - writer of The Stranger in the Woods, about American hermit Christopher Knight
Meng Hu - former librarian who runs a website called Hermitary
Prof Takahiro Kato - psychiatrist who specialises in hikikomori
Music by Ansuman Biswas and Stanley Keach.
Image: An isolated log cabin (Credit: Getty Images)
Why should we work together?
Open plan offices, hot-desking, group brainstorming sessions: collaboration seems to be king in the modern workplace. Recent studies have found that we are spending up to 80% of our working days either in meetings or dealing with requests from our colleagues. But is working together really the best way? Is the idea of collaboration something we’re fetishising at the cost of productivity and creativity, and have we lost sight of the benefits of working alone?
Nastaran Tavakoli-Far shares her own dislike of the BBC’s open-plan office and asks, in some desperation: why should we work together?
Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Bring Your Brain to Work
Kerstin Sailer, reader in social and spatial networks, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
John Maeda, global head of design at Automattic
Image: Workers in an open-plan office (Credit: Getty Images)
Schadenfreude is a German word that means “harm-joy”. It is the pleasure we feel from someone else’s misfortune, and it can come in many shades. It is the laughter we can’t stifle when someone unexpectedly falls over, or the triumphant pleasure we feel when a rival is defeated. We can also feel it when something bad happens to someone we genuinely like.
Edwina Pitman examines why, even when we’re happy and successful, we can’t help but enjoy others’ bad luck.
Esther Walker - journalist
Dr Tiffany Watt Smith - cultural historian and author of Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune
Professor Richard Smith - professor of psychology, University of Kentucky
Dr Andre Szameitat - reader in psychology, Brunel University
Anuvab Pal - Comedian
Mike Wendling - Editor, BBC Trending
Presented and produced by Edwina Pitman
Editor: Richard Knight
(Photo: Cheerful young woman lying on sofa with laptop in modern office lounge. Credit: Getty Images)
Why aren’t more women in computer science?
The history of computing is filled with the accomplishments of women. But in the West, the number of women taking computer science degrees has fallen sharply from its peak in the 1980s.
In the developing world, however, the trend is going in the other direction, because learning to code offers economic opportunities not available to women before. Women are still outnumbered in computer science classrooms, but there are more of them.
In this edition of The Why Factor on the BBC World Service, Sandra Kanthal asks why there areso few women in computer science, and what is driving them from a field they helped to create?
Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science, University of Southampton
Dr Barbara Ericson, Assistant Professor of Information, University of Michigan
Dr Anjali Das, Head of Learning, Centre for Computing History
Miriam Posner, Assistant Professor of Information Studies and Digital Humanities, UCLA
Noemi Titarenco, Software leader and product manager, Los Angeles
Fereshteh Forough, Founder: Code To Inspire
Apple Macintosh Commercial – 1984 produced by Fairbanks Films
Image: A woman studies a computer screen (Credit: Getty Images)
Why do we care where we come from?
Most of us feel some need to know a roadmap of our past, our connections with a family tree which took root before we were born. We look for stories to tell about where we come from and seek answers in the lives of our ancestors, even in the DNA they pass on to us. In this edition of the Why Factor, Viv Jones asks why we have such a fundamental need to discover the stories of our heritage, and what they tell us about ourselves.
Sandy Banks, journalist
Caitriona Palmer, author of ‘An Affair With My Mother’
Fenella Cannell, Associate Professor Of Anthropology, London School of Economics
Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, University of Alberta
Catherine St Clair, founder of NPE Friends Fellowship
Image: Woman admiring the sunset
Credit: Getty Images