Top 10 Podcasts for the Technophile

Photo by Flickr user e-magic, CC-licensed

Photo by Flickr user e-magic, CC-licensed

About two years ago I had to change the way I got to work. I used to take the train and would spend all that time reading. Suddenly I had to drive a car and it felt like I was wasting my time. That is until I found out about podcasting.

I have about ten hours of listening to fill every week and do that with the following podcasts (not in any particular order):

  • Leo Laporte has single handed created his own Netcast Network: TWiT. It is proof that it is now more than possible to create professional sounding audio (and lately even video) without breaking the bank. He does all his interviews over Skype, produces hours and hours of shows each week and is highly successful (some of his shows have around 200.000 listeners) without being big media. I listen religiously to four of his shows:
    • this WEEK in TECH (feed URL): This is the leading show that gives its name to the network. Laporte talks about the week’s tech news with luminaries like John C. Dvorak, Patrick Norton from Tekzilla, Will Harris from Channelflip and many others. The show is often hilarious with some great insights, although I can imagine it might feel like a lot of inside baseball when you don’t listen very often. My favourite regular guest is Jason Calacanis from Mahalo. He always seems to bring some outrageous humour to the show, but is also often one step ahead of the game when it comes to really understanding how business is changing because of the Internet.
    • FLOSS Weekly (feed URL): This is a show about Free, Libre, Open Source Software with Randal L. Schwartz. The show usually consists of an interview with the project lead(ers) of a big open source software project. It is a great place to learn about new projects and to get a better knowledge of how open source software development works.
    • net@night (feed URL): This show has Amber MacArthur sharing links of new websites that she encountered. Often there will be an interview with a founder of some new web 2.0 start-up. The show can be a bit light on content sometimes.
    • Security Now (feed URL): If you really want to get a better understanding of how computers work, than this is the show for you. Steve Gibson is a real old hand in the IT world (the back-end of his website is written in assembly language if I am not mistaken). The show has two types of episodes: one where Steve dives deep into a particular security related topic and one where he answers questions from his listeners.
  • Search Engine with Jesse Brown (feed URL new feed url at TVO.org): “A blog and podcast about the Internet. But not boring.” This is the podcast that I would love to make. Jesse Brown uses his audience to find stories in which the Internet has profound social effects. He really understands the Net and has the most wicked loops and intros of any podcast in this list.
  • Guardian’s Tech Weekly (feed URL): Aleks Krotoski and other Guardian journalists go through a week of tech news. It is a smoothly produced show with some interviews, a start-up elevator pitch, short news segments and sense of humour. The British focus can be refreshing.
  • Guardian’s Science Weekly (feed URL): Alok Jha must be the funniest man in science journalism. Only Brits can make a show that is incredibly entertaining and very intelligent at the same time. You can feel the love for science and the joy they have in making the show.
  • Digital Planet (feed URL): This BBC world show takes a much more international look at how technology is changing society. It has many features on the developing world and has a true journalistic BBC attitude. The resident expert Bill Thompson is a great technology critic who brings something extra.
  • These two Dutch podcasts are interesting too:
    • Radio Online (feed URL): This long running radio show always manages to entertain me. The combination of sceptic Peter de Bie and hardcore Internet journalist Francisco van Jole really works.
    • ICT Roddels (feed URL): Brenno de Winter and Gonny van der Zwaag produce this podcast. I have a lot of respect for Brenno who has his very own fearless interviewing style and is a journalist with principles. His Bigwobber site is pushing hard for open government.¬† The audio quality is less then the other shows that I have described but it is good enough.
  • Finally, as a bonus, two extra podcasts:
    • LugRadio (feed URL): The awesome foursome have stopped producing this great Linux show. They were completely irreverent and had some insanely hilarious segments, but also always managed to have very thoughtful and deep discussions about open source software and the open source community. It is well worth listening to the archives.
    • Ricky Gervais Podcast (available at Audible): This has nothing to do with technology, but it is probably the best comedy that is available¬† on audio anywhere.

I use Amarok (not the KDE4 version!) to download these podcasts and sync them with my iPod. Amarok really deserves a plug as it manages the podcasts on my iPod perfectly. Podcasts continue where I left them, get downloaded automatically when new ones arrive, get deleted from my iPod when I have listened to them completely and show the little image of the show.

I am always looking for new things to listen to and would appreciate any recommendations.

Learning 2008: Wrap up of day 2

Here are some more things that I thought were though-provoking, interesting, relevant or funny on day 2 the Learning 2008 conference:

  • Out of Control

    Out of Control

    One of my personal heroes was speaking today: Kevin Kelly. He is one of the founding editors of Wired Magazine and has an incredible depth and breadth of knowledge about technology in this world. A couple of months ago I read his wonderful Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World. He wrote it in the early nineties, but he was so ahead of the curve that it is only now that people are really starting to get the implications of what he was writing about. In this conference he spoke about his general outlook on technology. He is an optimist and thinks that technology will be a solution to many of our problems (this is also the basic premise of Wired Magazine). If the current technology isn’t working, then what we need is better technology. He even goes so far as to say that technology isn’t morally neutral, but morally good. It is our duty to bring technology to the (developing) world. When it comes to learning it would be interesting to see how we can become more individualised (compare the snowflake effect mentioned in an earlier post) and still leverage the increased power of the group. His recommendation to businesses who want to turn themselves into learning organisations is to start by becoming a teaching organisation. Learning and teaching are symmetrical.

  • I attended a discussion led by Aaron Silvers titled “Rapid Development: Operational & Strategic Impacts”. Most people in the US use Articulate to author content. How do you maintain your content when you use a lot of audio and video? Does video production have to be expensive? Aaron has been using a lot Flip cameras in his company. Devices like this can change the way we create content. My ex-colleague Marcel de Leeuwe has just bought a similar device and has used it to interview me (in Dutch) about my thoughts on the conference: a very quick method that still produces decent quality. Nigel Paine (former learning officer at the BBC) was later in the day talking about how these small video cameras were used by the BBC to capture small nuggets of knowledge or wisdom inside the company. These were then shared and could be rated. This became a big resource which was used a lot and created some true workplace heroes.
  • The session led by Russ Sharp of the BMO Financial Group was interesting for two reasons. Firstly because he told us that the BMO’s LMS is Docent 6.5. They have a license till 2013, but have just heard from their vendor that there is no upgrade path now that they have merged with SumTotal. To me this is another clear indication of why you should try and find open source solutions for your problems: you can be sure that doesn’t happen to you when you are the master of your own software. Russ did not become a pessimist though: he sees the coming years as a chance to reorient the company on their learning strategy. He toured the US visiting companies (like Sun and Cisco) to see what they were doing and looked at 3d worlds, social networking, user generated content, etc. His most important lesson: different businesses have different solutions and there is no silver bullet.
  • In the closing session of the day Masie interviewed Nick van Dam, the Global Chief Learning Officer of Deloitte Touche. He explained the fascinating new HR philosophy of Deloitte. They are in the “Human Capital” business: meaning that they do not have software or hardware to sell, but are all about the people. They need to “grow people fast” and can only do this when they allow people to “customise” their own career. It should be possible to keep on changing your career plan: slow down and work less one year and then speed up the next. This will be the only way that they can Deloitte will be able to keep their employees. Nick also heads the global nonprofit e-Learning for Kids foundation. They are dedicated to putting free and fun e-learning materials on the Internet for children aged 5-12. Pay them a virtual visit: they have some very creative stuff online.

That was all for day 2. Day 3 will be the last day already.