Software Engineering Podcasts 2020

Software Engineering Podcasts 2020

Trying to foster a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing at Simple Thread is important to us, but that’s a bit harder in these days of social isolation.

We can’t go to conferences or meetups, and those of us with kids at home have much less dedicated time to sit and focus for hours on tutorials and online courses or contribute to OSS.

For many of us, podcasts have become a lifeline to the broader world of software and product development, a way to keep current while we do the dishes – or simply a welcome distraction.

Recently our team exchanged some of our favorite podcasts, and I thought other folks might be interested. Our recommendations clumped around four categories: Engineering, Design, Product, and Storytelling.

I’m starting with our engineering-focused podcast recommendations, and I’ll publish the rest in coming weeks. Enjoy!

  1. The ChangeLog
  2. The ChangeLog recently celebrated 10 years and is a longtime favorite of many on the team. It’s an eclectic mix of topics focused loosely around open source software development – sometimes more focused on programming tools or platforms, sometimes more focused engineering leadership or methodologies.

    I recently revisited the episode #352, a discussion with The Pragmatic Programmers, Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. It was as good as I remembered.

  3. ShopTalk
  4. ShopTalk is another engineering show that has a long history, over 8 years of good content. The hosts have strong chops in front-end development, and it comes through in discussions all about building websites. I only started listening to it in the last few months, but several folks on our team have been fans for a while. It’s great for keeping up on recent browser changes and general news on HTML, CSS, and JS – along with occasional business-focused topics.

    My favorite episode I’ve listened to recently was actually an overview of content management systems, episode #383, What’s Up with CMS’s?.

  5. The Bike Shed
  6. I started listening to The Bike Shed on their first episode 6 years ago, and I still listen fairly often. It started out very focused on Rails, and while it seems to cover broader topics lately, those episodes with Rails experts and core team members are still my favorites.

    Any of the episodes with Sandi Metz is a great choice to start, e.g., this live show from RailsConf 2016.

  7. Software Engineering Radio
  8. I go through phases with SE Radio. I listened to every episode back when I was trying to learn everything I could about software architecture, in the late 2000’s. Nowadays, I only listen if an episode topic strikes a particular chord, but it’s always well-done, with top notch production.

    Of recent episodes, I enjoyed #357, Adam Barr on Code quality. Going back a bit, #285, James Cowling on Dropbox’s Distributed Storage System on is a great primer on building systems at a massive scale. Going back even further, #89, Joe Armstrong on Erlang is excellent and will make you want to start learning Elixir.

  9. Risky Business
  10. Risky.Biz is focused on information security, an area where I know some of the fundamentals but don’t make time to keep up. This show helps keep a finger on the general pulse. I don’t listen to every episode, just dip in when the topic looks interesting.

    Most recently, I enjoyed episode #579, their discussion of how Apple and Google are implementing the COVID-19 contact tracing.

  11. Thoughts on Functional Programming
  12. In full disclosure, I haven’t listened to many episodes of this show yet. When we were sharing podcast recommendations, this one came up and got my attention with its range of topics. The speaker is clearly extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful about paradigms of software.

    For example, I really enjoyed this short episode, What kind of software is functional programming not suited for?.

  13. Artificial Intelligence with Lex Fridman
  14. Lex is an MIT researcher in AI and robotics. I like this podcast because it explores aspects of computer science that I don’t encounter in my routine engineering tasks. Topics range from semi-practical discussions of machine learning or quantum computing to extremely philosophical dialogues on consciousness or the nature of intelligence. It’s not one that you can just put on the background and follow along with half a mind, but if you want to be engaged, there are some great episodes.

    The episodes with Elon Musk are probably his most popular, but my favorites are his ones with CS luminaries, e.g., the one with Donald Knuth or the one with Peter Norvig

Still reading? Oh! We thought you’d be listening to some of the podcasts by now! I hope you found something new to explore, and please comment if you have a show we should add to this list.

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