The BBC has an interesting series of podcasts, A History of the World, Told in 100 Objects. A lovely idea, illuminating the way the world is formed and reformed through the agency of people making things.
The series uses objects from the British Museum and thanks to this combination of heavy hitting institutions is able to bring in some of the world's most famous thinkers to add some of their thoughts to this series. Objects #2, #3, #4 & #5 discussed the phenomenal changes in our culture when people began to make objects to use, and then a further, mysterious development, onjectrs with no use (i.e. art).
The podcasts are here
and the visuals are here