The 8 Best Podcasts for Developers in 2020
Staying on top of our game as developers can mean stalking new libraries and updates to our favourite languages. Maybe reading some industry blogs. But I never wanted to be a narrow-minded specialist – and that is why I enjoy a weird podcast or two every day.
The list below is all about podcasts that helped me in my real, daily work. Where I found a nugget here or there, some knowledge or inspiration that made me a better developer and leader. If you feel like you have hit a wall in your personal growth, put on your headphones, take a detour, and have a go at one of those fantastic podcasts.
YANSS (You Are Not So Smart)
Who are you? No, really, are you you, and what does this actually mean? Who makes the decisions, what processes contribute to your choices and emotions? You think you know, but you probably do not. You are simply not so smart! Our brains work very hard to make sure we do not really know how little we know. How many of those gaps have you unconsciously filled with bullshit?
David McRaney is a terrific host who asks pointed and tough questions. His guests are managers, scientists, philosophers, and public intellectuals. Episodes run deep, often more than 1,5 hours, and they fly by really quickly if you get engaged. This podcast taught me a lot about brain heuristics and the cognitive biases that are plentiful in human life.
Okay, maybe this one is not for every dev or CTO out there, but for those digging around Elixir, Erlang and Phoenix Elixir Wizards is a good resource. Full of slow-paced interviews that go in deep, the podcast is based on interviews with engineers, developers, and top thought leaders. Some of my favorite guests were Todd Resudek from Weedmap (here is his cool keynote from Code BEAM 2020) and Brooklyn Zelenka.
Gateway episode: Brooklyn Zelenka on Functional Programming
Cybersecurity knowledge – at least the bare-bones basics – should be a must between developers. However, this does not have to mean going to some courses and gaining certifications! The majority of successful cyberattacks are a direct result of human ignorance and negligence – or simply put mistakes.
Darknet Diaries is a good narrative podcast that tells the stories of some more and less successful cyber-attacks and accidents and analyses them in-depth. Great production and careful research are immediately noticeable!
Gateway episode: MS08-067
This is more of a stable of podcasts than a single recommendation, but Adam Stacoviak’s stamp of approval is good enough for me. Changelog has several good choices for IT people, like Practical AI dealing with machine learning and developments in artificial intelligence, or maybe Founders Talk, a very relaxed series of interviews with CEOs and makers of businesses.
Still, my absolute favorite is Brain Science (its description starts with “For the curious!”, so I feel called out already), where Adam with Mireille Reece, a clinical psychologist, debate neuroscience, emotions, and the way humans think.
Gateway episode: Brain Science – The mechanics of goal setting
Sooo... what is wrong with UX?? Quite a lot, if you ask Kate and Laura from this wonderful podcast. A pretty unstructured podcast which may not suit everyone, it allows listeners to learn small bits of good UX practices with every episode.
Tech people often work with designers and seem confounded by the way they work, what designers need and want. I think this in an excellent place to bridge this gap and become a slightly better member of the project team. Look no further than the episode linked below – it speaks at length about the challenge of putting good design first by everyone in the organization.
Gateway episode: Who Is a Designer?
This is not your dry, learning it step-by-step with examples podcast. But it still comes back to me when I need a fast, free-flowing, and relaxed industry conversation. Don’t get me wrong though – the level of detail is still there, you just have to accept that it is delivered in a very chill fashion.
What Elixir Outlaws does well is its small but loud community which improves the visibility of the podcast – this is how I got hooked myself. The hosts – Chris, Anna and Amos, are fun and have good chemistry together.
Gateway episode: A Tale As Old As Time
I found this podcast early, maybe in 2018, and had a brief moment when I waited eagerly for the next episode to drop. While early enthusiasm inevitably waned, I still enjoy Syntax very much. Want to talk about headless CMS? Some funky CMS functions? Want to know what is the point of boot camps for experienced developers? Pick an episode you like (they do differ in quality, admittedly) and jump in.
Gateway episode: Thinking ahead for Emergency UI When Building a Website
With a voice so robotic it can actually soothe you; Roman Mars is a one-person institution. 99% Invisible looks deep into things that are hard to know – sometimes by purpose!
Ostensibly about design, 99% tells much broader of a story. Designs always reflect our choices and priorities, and this need to be acknowledged by tech industry, which often thinks itself as rational and evidence-based.
Gateway episode: Invisible women