8 great podcasts for technical craftsmanship
I’m sure you’ve heard it said many times before: technology is constantly changing. One of the ways I attempt to stay up to date is to listen to podcasts on my daily commute. I try to listen to a mixture of podcasts; some are very technical, some are designed for a general audience, and some are just for fun. This way I stay interested and engaged throughout my week.
Strangely though, listening to podcasts tends to be a solitary activity, and I’ve only been able to discuss it with people when I’ve started a conversation. When I eventually do get talking to people about podcasts, I’ve been given great suggestions or have shared my favourites with others, and it’s a really good way to get the word out.
Since this has been so useful for me, I wanted to list of a few of my favourites as a recommendation for others – and I also want to welcome any additional recommendations, too. Don’t let it be a solitary activity: if you listen to podcasts that aren’t mentioned here, please let us know below.
Listening to podcasts that are related to work is a great way to keep up with the technical community. Personally, I also read newsletters and blog posts but find that these are far too easy to skim-read, and I only really absorb the knowledge when I hear it on a podcast.
I also find that technical people tend to make technology easily understandable when they talk (rather than write) about it. I don’t know why this is, but a simple side-note on a podcast can give me a much better high-level understanding of something compared to a little paragraph in an email.
My top three technical podcasts are listed below with a little summary – please give us your own suggestions on Twitter or in the comments!
The ShopTalk show podcast is hosted by Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier (creator of CSS Tricks) and is a podcast all about web development. They cover a huge range of topics with a wide variety of guests and is a good way to pick up the general lingo of the technical industry.
Hanselminutes is a podcast hosted by Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft employee who enjoys programming, teaching and speaking about technology. The podcast covers a wide range of technical and less technical concepts, such as Lean Customer Development and WebVR. It’s a really approachable podcast that skims over high-level concepts really well, although rarely goes into technical detail.
Non-technical podcasts, but still work-related
There are also some podcasts that I listen to for fun, but which actually teach me things that I end up using at work. These are particularly interesting because things you never think will be useful pop up in a conversation and save the day.
My top three non-technical but work-related podcasts are below. Do you have any that you listen to for fun but find they’re actually useful too?
Note to Self is a podcast hosted by Manoush Zomorodi, and it covers the ethical and difficult questions about technology. It covers a huge variety of topics from new technologies, politics, mental health and others, and it always gives a brutally honest opinion on whether technology is helping or hindering us.
Science in Action is a BBC World Service weekly podcast that talks about new and interesting scientific discoveries and what they could mean for the future. It is rarely work-related, admittedly, but it does give you a host of interesting “Did you know…” facts you can spout to your teammates.
Happier is a weekly podcast from Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. Gretchen dedicates her time to researching and evangelising a happier life, and her podcast is full of easily accessible tips and tricks (and Happiness Hacks) for how you can improve your everyday life. These are not always life altering tips but they have helped me a lot over time, and help you to reflect on your own life and how you can help yourself be happier.
A bit of fun
Sometimes after a long day (or week) you really need a funny or interesting podcast that is 100% not going to be related to work. This helps me wind down and clear my mind after a day of coding, and makes me laugh after a difficult day.
My top fun podcasts are below. Please feel free to offer other recommendations on Twitter, I’m sure there are lots of fun ones going around!
No Such Thing As A Fish is the podcast from the QI Elves (the researchers behind the TV show) and hosts a panel of regulars that find an amusing fact from the week and explain it. This usually dissolves into a group discussion of something entirely irrelevant but hilarious, and you learn something along the way.
The Infinite Monkey Cage is a BBC Radio 4 panel show hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince. The panel usually consists of a couple of leading scientists in their field and a comedian or two to mix it up. They pick interesting and diverse topics and discuss the science behind the ideas. Although it sounds very factual (which it is) it is also hilarious and, refreshingly, British humour!
So, that’s it – all of my podcast recommendations. If you want to give a podcast a try, but aren’t sure how to get started, there is plenty of information available online on how to get set up. For example, I use the Stitcher app on my Android phone to listen to the podcasts above, but you can also find podcasts on iTunes and other apps.
Louise Formby, Software Engineer