Listen Up - Tech Podcasts

Published Sunday, March 22, 2015

Back in my former life as an art historian / art shipper, it wasn’t enough to simply know about art. You had to know about the other people who know about art - the key figures shaping the field, your peers working on the same stuff you were - that was just as critical as being able to recite off Greek column types or the core members of the Arte Povera movement (which I can still do, thanks very much, humanities degrees).

Now that I’m joining this new realm of web development, I have a whole world of new people to get to know. Honestly, it’s been one of my favorite parts so far; the Ruby world especially has so many weird,wonderful voices, it’s been a blast reading up on and listening to the amazing cast of coders behind all these concepts I’m learning about.

One invaluable resource in this process has, of course, been podcasts. I pretty much only listen to podcasts these days (mostly comedy, with a dash of NPR and PRX staples), so it seemed natural to turn there for my tech education as well. Below are some of my favorites I’ve found so far. Hit me up in the comments with more recommendations!

Bob's Burgers Podcast Dance

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

Probably my favorite technical podcast. Hosted by Ben Orenstein of thoughtbot, every week they have a new developer guest on to chat about development, design, current products, and all the joys/frustrations therein. I feel like it’s given me a real window into the actual world of a working web developer. Plus, every guest has been smart, entertaining, and FUNNY. I’d even go so far as to recommend this to non-programmers - well, non-programmers who are fascinated by Rails development and/or tech consulting. Fave eps:

The Bike Shed

Another thoughtbot production, hosted by Sean Griffin and Derek Prior, this podcast digs into the hows and whys of web development, discussing theory as it applies to actual projects they’re working on day-to-day. Pretty charmingly, too - which is no small feat for a CS theory chat show. Some excellent eps:

  • ep. 1 => Sandi & Derek’s Rules, where “Sean and Derek discuss lessons learned from following Sandi Metz’ rules on a project and the overall impact of rules on code.”
  • ep. 7 => At the Car Wash, where they get into trade shows, bug stomping, and good/bad method naming


I got into this podcast when it was still hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldmund, who’ve since moved on to their new podcast Reply All (see below). Meredith Haggerty has taken over the reins, and while the tone has changed a little, it’s still the same thoughtful yet playful weekly investigations of a single fun/weird/fascinating internet topic.

Reply All

PJ Vogt and Alex Goldmund’s new podcast is the Serial of tech podcasts, if Serial was a) funny b) about the internet and c) hosted by two charming smart dudes. You should listen for their ad reads alone; possibly the only podcast where I DON’T skip forward through the ads. Also possibly the only podcast where one of the hosts mounted a musical Twitter campaign against his co-host. All time faves:

  • ep. 3 => We Know What You Did - the story of Ethan Zuckerman, the man who invented the pop-up ad.
  • ep. 12 => Back End Trouble - To quote: “The entire internet decides to look at one famous butt at the same time. One man has to ensure that the website hosting Kardashian butt pictures doesn’t crash. The sheer terror and joy of solving that problem.”
  • ep. 4 => Follow the Money - writer Chiara Atik explores the finer arts of Venmo ‘spying’

New Tech City

From WNYC - a show about the human side of tech. Great reporting that’s a little more long form than others on this list. Great eps to start with:

Internet Explorer

I haven’t even listened to this yet. It’s from The Internet’s Katie Notopoulos and Ryan Broderick and that’s all you need to know. First ep dropped March 18. Auto-subscribe. Best eps:

Treehouse Quick Tips

Perfect for a quick refresher during your morning commute, these short little 2-3 minute episodes cover everything from using multiple background images in CSS (ep 56) to successful networking at events (ep 1). Other particularly goods eps:


The Podcast version of Ryan Bates’ indispensible Rails screencasts. Subscribe - on iTunes and to the Pro Version to get access to premium eps.

Ruby on Rails Podcast

Host Sean Devine has a literal who’s who of the Ruby On Rails world on every week for indepth discussions of the finer points of all-things-Rails. A few highlights: