10 brilliant educational audio files for programmers and techies

24th October 2009

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My daily commute means that for 30 minutes, twice a day I am blessed with a learning opportunity. Here are my recommendations for improving knowledge and expanding your mind through the power of an MP3 player.


TED Talks

This podcast is a no-brainer. Where else can you find Al Gore, Richard Branson and Clay Shirky, all ready to bend your ear about their favourite topics for 10-20 minutes? These talks are actually all video, but many are quite non-visual and so make great listening too.

[caption id="attachment_315" align="alignright" width="282" caption="Audiobooks on the iphone"]Audiobooks on the iphone[/caption]


The first podcast I really got into was StackOverflow. I had listened to DiggNation a few times but it wasn't my cup of tea.

StackOverflow, in the early episodes, had a fantastic narrative. These guys were going to build a website to help programmers and some of the social innovations they intended to use bordered on genius.

After joining the podcast around episode #25, I went back and started from #1 to make sure I got the whole picture. I totally recommend doing the same to see how far they have come (if you don't already know, their site is now in the top 1000 most popular websites in the world).


A friend of Joel and Jeff of StackOverflow fame is Scott Hanselman. Although he is primarily a .NET guy many of his podcasts would be useful to any developer. His strong point is his knowledge of programming theory, so look out for his podcasts on programming methods and techniques.

Boag World

Paul Boag is a web developer from the UK. His podcast manages to be both informative and entertaining. Unfortunately, for me the programme is often a little hit and miss as he tries to cater for several levels of skill in programming and design. However some of his thoughts and advice are worth their weight in gold, take for example his feature on the 'Stakeholder intereviews' - podcast 181, which completely changed the way I think about gathering information about a new web design project.

Carsonified Events

For 5 years I have been following Carsonified, the creative web agency from Bath. These guys run the FOWA events and have released several useful web apps alongside running thinkvitamin. The great thing about them is that they seem to do things the right way. The events they put on are always impressive and the content flowing from their web site and blog is always great. Recently they made some of their event presentations available as a podcast. Talks from web moguls such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason Fried, Mark Boulton and Kevin Rose make this a podcast not to miss.

iTunes U

Getting educated via the Internet is the future, how far into the future is difficult to gauge but iTunes U is a step in the right direction. The navigation is currently terrible but there are some excellent lectures buried in there. MIT - Introduction to Algorithms and Stanford - The Future of the Internet are two that I particularly enjoyed.


Steven Hawking

No self-respecting iPod owner should be without the undisputed champion of science writing, Steven Hawking. Both 'Universe in a Nutshell' and 'Briefer History of Time' are incredible books that will open your eyes to the incredible properties of maths and physics all around us. Plus, what better way to start your day than the theories behind time travel, black holes and the expanding universe? It certainly helps to put our lives in perspective.

Getting Things Done - Abridged version

David Allen and his time saving methods, Getting Things Done (GTD), are an incredible listen and to ensure the book does not take up too much time, this recording has been condensed to fit into about 4 hours. If you take up even a few of his methods then surely you'll save that time many times over!

How to win friends and influence people

Dale Carnegie can't have possibly imagined how popular and continuingly relevant his book would be in the 21st century. This book is an essential read/listen for anyone even vaguely on the programmer scale of nerdy personality traits. Don't question that this book is 73 years old. Just buy it and read it. That is all.

I really hope this list helps you to stop thinking that your daily commute time is going to waste. Your time is precious, so put it to good use!