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Podcasts are my new Wikipedia (listennotes.com)
106 points by wrycoder 79 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 102 comments



Like many in the thread, I also had this experience of going all-in on podcasts during my passive time, and then after a couple of years realizing that I had stopped doing any thinking of my own.

For me personally, podcasts are great while grocery shopping, washing clothes or other chores that engage me too little to be interesting, but too much to let my mind wander into critical thinking mode. I'm sure this threshold is different for different people.

But for intentionally passive time, like walking or running, I've stopped listening to podcasts. I may or may not listen to music.

Especially for running, I'll intentionally choose a topic beforehand to think about, and then actively think about that topic. I've found that extremely stimulating.


My solution for this is very simple: I only subscribe to podcasts which actually give me a new perspective and enough "value" to be worth my time. And there aren't enough podcasts on my list to fill my week.

So I skip a lot of the podcasts that would provide a aoothing background noise and only listen those where I feel joy when I see a new episode is out.


I have two layers of filtering. Layer 1 is the "Subscription" layer like you mention. I also have a Layer 2 which is not all episodes of a Podcast are meaningful for me. Therefore, I don't listen to ALL episodes. A Podcast app like Castro is extremely beneficial in making an active decision to add a podcast to my queue [0].

[0] https://castro.fm/


Any podcast recommendations?


Yes, but mostly German ones (which is my first language). There is one that has many English episodes (mostly geared towards aviation and engineering): <http://omegataupodcast.net/>

One of the EN ones I enjoy is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History


Can you post the German ones? I'd like to have some cool stuff to listen to and study/learn German with


There are many good German podcasts. Omega Tau, omega tau science & engineering podcast: http://omegataupodcast.net/feed/

Logbuch:Netzpolitik: http://logbuch-netzpolitik.de/feed/m4a

Forschergeist: http://forschergeist.de/feed/m4a/

Raumzeit: http://raumzeit-podcast.de/feed/m4a/

Resonator: https://resonator-podcast.de/feed/m4a/


The two podcasts I consistently listen to at the moment are:

* Power Corrupts - An in-depth look at the darker side of humanity, particularly corrupt national leaders, the ways they hold on to power, and how to prevent that.

* The Electronic Wireless Show - A weekly podcast from Rock Paper Shotgun, ostensibly about PC gaming, but I'm there more for the fantastic dynamic between the three hosts.

Honorable mention goes out to the now concluded 13 Minutes to the Moon from the BBC World Service, the first series focuses on the final 13 minute descent from Apollo 11 to the surface of the moon, concluding with an unedited playback of the audio loop from mission control which at that point you've got enough context to understand. The second series runs through the events of Apollo 13's mission, and how they managed to get the crew back to Earth.


Tim Ferris, Rich Roll - not all episodes, but many are good (Rich tends to ramble).

Behind the bastards - good show, but it will depress you.

Bankless - if you’re interested in crypto/blockchain

Heist podcast - this one is fun. No murder or creepy criminal stuff. Just robbery, lol

Side hustle school - very short episodes, I only listen to the side hustle episodes and skip the Q&A, advice ones

Invest Like a Boss - I am a money dummy, I learned quite a bit. Depending on your financial knowledge, it may or may not be appealing to you


Dan Carlin's hardcore history is amazing at explaining history at amazing depth that paints completely different picture to what I was taught by school and history documentaries.

Sam Harris has a podcasat I have love/hate relationship but as OP pointed, its great at pushing you to think about give opinion.


I will add:

- Long Now: Seminars About Long Term Thinking

- Arms Control Wonk

- At The Brink


I learned the same on long distance motorcycle trips. I didn't have Bluetooth in my helmet, so I spent a lot of time silently staring at the road.

It's where I got my best thinking done, simply because I had nothing else to do. I'd often reach my hotel and get right on my laptop to Google things or write code. I built my best projects on the road.

I think this is why people walk, meditate or take long showers. Idle time is important, but we do everything to avoid it.


I try to limit how much I listen to podcasts, because it's easy to get into a habit of turning one on every time I'm driving or walking or cooking or cleaning. It's noise that minimally engages my brain and tamps down my own actual creativity and original thinking.


The pandemic was hard for me. I had a lot of anxiety, something completely new for me (I'm 40). Now I'm recovered, and my life is much better than before the pandemic. One of my improvements has been to (mostly) stop listening to podcasts. Now I crave silence. When I cook, I cook. When I eat, I eat. When I'm with family, I'm with family. Some podcasts are great, but my experience is that they fill your head with noise, and this is not good at all. Some podcasts are truly informative, but most of them just seem informative. It's like Twitter. At the beginning, we all had the feeling Twitter was all insider information. Now we know that Twitter is mostly noise (with some exceptions). The same for most podcasts. And even if they conveyed true and useful information, without noise, we need silence to digest the experiences of the day, and we need silence in order to focus on what we are doing.


I couldn't agree more. To me, the single greatest downside of the internet age is sensory overload. I find that having the time to reflect, be in the moment, and savour experience, is so important. When I get into those habits, and spent a lot more time offline, I feel more fulfilled.


It is exactly that. And, it is not even to find time to reflect, it is to find time to do nothing, or just to focus on that activity that is in front of me, such as preparing dinner for my kids, or watching them play.


I had the same thought, especially towards the end of the article when he described how he listens to a podcast with his wife, while grocery shopping.

While I'm certain grocery shopping isn't the most mentally stimulating form of activity, it's still "quiet time" (relatively, anyway) that my brain craves.

I remember growing up before smartphones were ubiquitous. I never had an iPod or mp3 player, so I'd just be alone with my thoughts for 40 minute bus/subway rides. It sounds like torture today, but I actually look back on that with some bittersweet jealously... simpler times.

I reviewed the situations that I listen to a podcast (there are quite few):

1. In the car, because it beats listening to radio commercials 2. Washing up at night, because I hate washing dishes but putting something on distracts me enough to power through.


I suppose it depends on what you subscribe to.

> I'm driving or walking or cooking or cleaning.

> It's noise that minimally engages

What's a better alternative? Listen to the vacuum cleaner? to the other's cars engines? To the top 10 reggaeton mix?

I use every single "non thinking" activity I do (like driving, cleaning, walking outside, etc) to listen to things that really interest me, from news about the tech industry, to web dev subjects I'm interested on, to astrophysics and general science divulgation, etc.

The amount of stuff I've learnt and the entertainment provided is invaluable to me, and just using time otherwise I'd be just hating my life for being stuck in a traffic jam.


The alternative is reflection. Thinking about your day, the task at hand, some other thing in the future. Being focused on your real life vs some content meant to pull you in to listen to advertisements.


Your brain defrags when it's bored. If you're 100% engaged at all times, your mind gets jumbled and muddy.

This is true for kids (no 24/7 screen time, they need to be bored out of their minds at least once a week) and for adults.


Do you set aside time for yourself to just do nothing and let your mind reflect and contemplate? Sometimes when going for runs/walks I find myself thinking about all sorts of things, sometimes related to work or a project but also just random things. It’s nice to not always give your brain an agenda and see what it comes up with itself.


> It’s nice to not always give your brain an agenda and see what it comes up with itself.

On day's when my brain is functioning properly that's great, it can be really nice. On the days when it isn't I would much rather be listening to some pointless waffle from podcast hosts than dwelling on something I did wrong 15 years ago and how that makes me a terrible person.


> What's a [_potentially_] better alternative?

Mind activity. The activity of problem solving, organizing thought, taking decisions - when e.g. you mentally organize your time, you actively problem solve. With the listening, you are processing information, which is different. A lesson in mathematics is radically different from solving mathematical exercises.

But one is all for optimizing time and if you find that meeting information e.g. while driving works well for you, comes natural and fruitful - that is just excellent!

Also, there are the mental breaks, which are necessary part of the whole process like phases in breathing. I am not sure the car is optimal for them though.

All three things have their space.


being present in the moment. not always being productive or entertained


They can definitely do that. For me, podcasts are great for distracting my brain when I’m dealing with executive function issues. Lack of external mental stimulation can be physically painful for me. Cooking without podcasts or the TV equivalent is impossible.

When I’m able to think deeply with silence or music, I do. Podcasts just fill the gap between those times.

This is a very powerful coping mechanism for me. For someone who is neurotypical, I can easily see how one can form some bad habits.


Precisely this for me. Sometimes I find it easier to concentrate on getting things done with some background noise that I can tune in and out of - the alternative is not having that and instead finding 3 hours later that I haven't got anything done because I fell down a totally pointless rabbit hole.


Also of good note, there are many Wikipedia articles with spoken recordings available for free. I once listened to the entire hour long article of the Cold War. Not something I would have likely read completely otherwise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Spoken_articles


I wonder if this is true for other languages? I’m trying to find relatively simple Spanish texts read by a native speaker.


You might have some luck with Librivox. There are Spanish recordings[0] that you could use to practice your comprehension. I did this with French, and it was very helpful. Years ago when I naively tried to learn Japanese, I listened to Oku no Hosomichi[1] over and over again, which I still to this day find to be a beautiful listen, though I gave up on trying to learn that language.

[0] https://librivox.org/search?primary_key=5&search_category=la...

[1] https://librivox.org/oku-no-hosomichi-by-matsuo-basho/


(Apologies for the marginal OT, but browsing just now those pages and skimming over 'Dos años de vacaciones' from Verne, the automatic reconstruction was the misreading 'Dos años de vac·un·aciones'. It's really been two toll-taking years.)

Back to the topic: thank you! Any similar non-fictional material around? Edit: librivox also contains non-fiction, according to the filters. (I rest my case with relevance to the above note.) It is probably not the most specialized repository for informational or educational material though?

In fact, Spanish language records filtered as 'Non-Fiction',

https://librivox.org/search?title=&author=&reader=&keywords=...

still produce literature (works which have their value mostly in being literary products instead of contemporary essays).


Are you looking for anything in particular? I wouldn't mind recording myself reading a couple Wikipedia articles. I'm a native speaker from Argentina.


I’m looking for texts at a beginner or intermediate level, read by native speakers, which have not been abridged.

For example, I have a dual language text of Hesse’s Damien. I found an audiobook on Amazon, but it has been abridged, to the point that individual sentences have been changed - with words eliminated! That makes it very difficult to follow text while listening.

I’ll see if Librivox, mentioned above, has a copy. Thanks!

What I’m trying to avoid is starting to read Spanish with an English hybridized with Latin pronunciation running in my head. I can halfway understand written Spanish already, so I figure that a few weeks following audiobooks with a text would be very helpful to getting a good start on a proper accent.


At least in English, the spoken articles are biased towards things that people think are funny. For example half the "Culture and society biographies" are people who were in the Netflix show "Tiger King". The health section is full of articles detailing all the things you can do with a urethra, "pussy torture", etc


This is a fascinating discussion but something is still missing:

Learning is not about information, it’s about grokking.

The magic of the interview podcast is the privilege of hearing the nuance of someone’s thoughts. You can feel their brain spinning in real time. You can gradually begin to comprehend their modes of thinking and their source of wisdom.

Within just a few hours of listening to someone, you can begin to predict - nearly exactly! - how they would respond to the next question, even if it’s novel. Even if the information is surprising; the mode of thinking of that person will not be.

This means we can tap into the minds of incredibly smart people and begin to.. grok their grok.

Deep transfer of wisdom, at scale. Is there anything more magical than that?


I've been lurking on HackerNews for goodness knows how many years. This is the first time I've been motivated to log in and comment - I agree 100% with your outlook and very nicely put.


And there is a wide difference between an "interview" podcast episode and one where it's "two people hanging out", in my opinion. It really needs to be the former, but there's many of those too fortunately.


slightly dodging the main point but just one sentiment I see a lot nowadays that I really dislike

>But I felt guilty for not learning new things and just listening to music all day long

Along the same lines something I regularly hear "I don't read fiction it's a waste of time". You can learn new things by listening to music, by doing or engaging with art, by rereading the same stories, and so on. Learning means expanding the mind of the learner, it is not external fact gathering. You can do the same thing over and over and learn something new every time, Nabokov used to (cheekily) point out that the only good reader is a re-reader, because you can only memorize ten books or so, you just gotta find the right ones and they'll last you a lifetime or put more succintly:

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"


>But I felt guilty for not learning new things and just listening to music all day long

Seen this a lot, and I'm in the same boat. I dislike this commodified view of life and free time, where every thing you do must result in a sort of real-life stat increase, like you would see in a video game (Persona 5 anyone?).

I think ultimately this way of thinking is extremely naive. It implies there is no underlying themes or philosophy in music or fiction whereas listening to a podcast will cause you to learn something new. The subtle messaging a good album possesses can be far more profound than listening to a guy talk about data science for an hour each day. Listening to a good album or reading fiction can give you new ways to frame problems or reconsider old approaches in your work.

We need more polymaths.


I don't think I learn much from art. But I don't care -- I don't enjoy art and music to learn. It's a much more emotional and human experience -- and that has just as much value to me as learning does.


I cannot agree more with this. After almost dying a couple times, I've come to see the "must be learning constantly" mindframe as utterly toxic. Expanding your skillsets is great! But it's mind-boggling how many people I know who feel genuine guilt over simply relaxing and enjoying life, art, friends, family, etc.

Slacking off and not getting necessary things done is terribly self-destructive. But so is cramming "learning", "goals", and "growth" into literally every second of your day.


Hey, just wanted to say I really needed to hear this.

I occasionally overwhelm myself with all of this stuff to learn, read, listen, do, and it takes a mental toll on me.

There is just so much out there, but we can't do it all.

:)


I'm not sure learn is the right verb, but I think that it certainly opens the mind to other stuff that we couldn't previously see. And that cascades into other areas as well.


I think that is learning. Being able to see the world from other peoples perspectives is learning.


'Learn' is in a way the germanic-side equivalent of for the latin-side 'study' ("getting busy"), since to "learn" is to "track down" (intentionally actively progressively consider something... So, "to investigate").

In the Arts there may be little specific track, but it is acquisition of keys anyway, and a fundamental one, because the consideration of art is the encounter of patterns. Pattern for your further recognition, application, and for your development in general as a "pattern-rich entity".


I think you do learn from art - it is a different kind of learning though, one thats much less tangible. To your point it is much more of an emotional and human experience (also a great way to process in the background). After all music is the short hand of emotion.


If science is the meat, art is the spices.


Imagine the intellectual poverty of thinking that A Farewell to Arms and Beethoven’s Fifth are wastes of time but the a16z podcast and Good to Great are where it’s at. Might as well be an ape at that point.


> I don't read fiction it's a waste of time

Some truths are only mass-publishable as fiction.


And some lies/falses are much more convincing as a fiction.


Podcasts have come to occupy a similar spot in my media consumption. It isn’t so much about any real learning just satisfying inquisitive urges. I am under no illusions that I would become an expert of a topic by listening to a podcast, but I still enjoy learning about things even if retention is very low. It was/is the same for Wiki articles. They can also both be great starting points for deeper dives providing just enough context to let me know if I am even interested in further time commitments.

Another thing that have been replaced by podcasts, at least for me are specialty news sites. No need to go read about last nights Red Wings game or the latest blockbuster when a podcast can give me that information, and when I am on a walk or driving to work.


I appeared on Jeopardy earlier this year, and podcasts were a key part of my studying regime. For example, I reviewed American presidential history by listening to a podcast called American Presidents: Totalus Rankium, a history podcast hosted by two British comedians. This was effective for me on many levels:

- the outsider comedian commentary helped add a level of critique and emotion to the material, which made it much more memorable

- the presidents' lives overlap, so there's this helical effect of retreading the same material

- it also served to review generic American history

On the whole, this was much more engaging and effective than a Wikipedia binge. I did also use Wikipedia to explore tangents that my listening brought to my attention.


The interviews with Ken Jennings on I believe the freakonomics podcast have been very interesting. His explanation that it's about being interested in many things (interest makes you remember) is on point.


Did you win?


I won one match. Dream come true!

Ironically, I almost lost my first match by getting Final Jeopardy wrong, and the category was 19th Century Presidential Campaigns.


I used to listen to podcasts all the time but since around 2018 I've switched mainly to audiobooks and personally I get way more out of that than podcasts.


Me too, audiobooks really allow you to wallow deep into a subject without distraction. I find the 'zoo radio' format beloved of podcasts a little annoying and often inappropriate for the subject matter - I tried the 'Behind the Bastards' podcast that gets recommended a lot and it was all "whoo! Soviet Russia! J-Stal in da house! Millions dead!", very jarring. I'm sure there are many with more stolid presentation, but mock pissed-up banter seems to be the default.

I do enjoy ones more in the style of radio programmes, or for that matter actual radio programmes.. In Our Time is excellent for short deep dives into all manner of subject.


I'll try your suggestion, but it might come down to the podcast type. Some of them are just two people talking as if they are hanging out, of it's a very low fact content discussion. I weed those out now.

A focused topic and fact or idea based discussions or stories in each episode keep me listening.


I can't imagine listening to podcasts and programming at the same time. Well, I can imagine it, but the amount of mistakes I would make would be huge.


I could work if you are doing dull repetitive coding tasks, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't tank ones efficiency and thoroughness in intense tasks.


I think this is good advice but it is often hard to find podcasts that approach a topic with sufficient detail. I have also used listennotes for this, and still do from time to time, but I have started to search Youtube for lectures more. Any topic + lecture. Someone speaking to an audience for 30-60 minutes has worked best for me.


If a book is somewhat dense in knowledge, I engage with the information better if I read than if I listen.


I also learn a lot from podcasts. I've learnt so much from my favourite, The Ezra Klein Show, that I built full-text over some of its transcripts to help reinforce my learning: https://search.rememex.org/

I plan to slowly expand the number of podcast episodes that I have indexed to include multiple podcasts and thousands of episodes. Currently it's about ~100 episodes.

For those that are skeptical of why you'd want this, I'd say that I regularly enough find my brain pulling out information that I heard in a podcast episode that I wanted to have the transcripts easily searchable to verify and reinforce my memory.


I've also noticed that coding and speech are compatible in a sense that they are probably processed by different parts of the brain and can be done simultaneously. Coding is closer to mechanical work, or let's say it's like building a physical machine with your hands. Whereas speech is a different set of muscles (both producing and understanding speech are related in fact). That's my amateurish pseudo theory about this.


But programming isn't really about the mechanics of touching a keyboard. I find that it often requires deep thought and a lack of distractions.


It's not about touching the keyboard. Building a program in your mind is like building a machine. A program is a machine and therefore you use the same area of your brain that e.g. you use while building a Lego object.


Mind maps help. White boards are even better. In my early college years, I used my bedroom's closet mirror like a starving artist would.


For me it's the exact opposite. I can listen to classical music while I code, but certainly not to songs. Even unconsciously listening to spoken words completely destroys my focus.


Imagine I gave you some materials and tools and asked you to build a physical machine with your hands by the end of the day.

If I were first to place some plans in front of your eyes, what would your hands build then?

If there were no plans, what might your hands do before they started building a machine?

What organ/s might help your hands to do this?

If that organ/s was busy listening to a podcast, how might that affect the output of your hands?


To other commenters - each person learns differently. I've personally found that the most effective studying is done by hearing the content out-loud and that my writing greatly improves when I read it out loud to myself (or use the word feature) for this. I would expect that the language pathway in our minds evolved to be primarily audio-based, but some people may be able to overcome this bias and learn more by silently reading.


Podcasts are horrible for learning. They are nice entertainment while doing laundry, cooking or driving in case you feel that you've already taken enough breaks for the day. I've listened to podcasts while taking a shower, but mostly I prefer some calm. Learning or reading wikipedia is something that requires my intense focus, and in turn I like to define my own pace.

Couldn't imagine doing two things at once and calling one of them 'work' and the other 'learning'.


Podcasts are amazing for learning. I've never in my life experienced a form of learning that was so organic, easy, and fun for me. And I've suffered through a few University degrees.

I can listen to a single episode on some subject, then days later basically retell the entire thing to my dad. And by the time I've finished retelling what I learned, it's burned in forever.

I imagine what's happening is that you're assuming that because you experience existence a certain way, _everyone_ must experience it that way too.


I am not sure how much I have learned from podcasts, however they have offered a great deal of onboarding information about various technologies I have later picked up.

That’s been valuable to me because basic familiarity with something is a major step toward using it. Good hosts and guests have a casual style you don’t have to work to parse.

I also remember some portions of podcasts that end up not only relevant, but containing valuable context only available in that episode.

One example recently was the creator of Flask reflecting on what the community was now doing that he would not have done.

I transcribed some of this into the thread and I’m sure it would not have been something he would have put in a blog post. It wasn’t bad, but it was earnest and offered an emotional touch only the person affected by the experience could offer.


Video is horrible for learning, because the combination of two sensory cues into a single passive medium puts said cues into a constant state of distraction with each other. The visual tends to distract the viewer from the aural, and the presence of the visual invites the producer of the video to put less effort into aural exposition.

Audio-only is not as bad as video, in my experience. Probably still less-than in comparison to reading, but certainly an acceptable compromise particularly for people who struggle to read due to some disability.


For those unaware, parent comment is a pretty good layman’s version of Marshall McLuhan’s position. See: the concept of hot and cool media https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding_Media


You got me! I've read McLuhan and while I think he can be a bit overdramatic in his proclamations, his way of looking at media as whole user experience rather than just content in isolation makes a lot of sense.

It's relevant in this discussion because the content and the user's environment both determine whether a thing is "good" or "bad" (or as McLuhan would say... cold or hot). I personally don't listen to podcasts as a passive activity, I try to concentrate as if I were reading them to follow along with the concepts, but that's a function of what I'm listening to, I tend to favor theoretical discussions of concepts rather than people making jokes about the news or analyzing sports highlights or something that is more divided into discrete sections.

I can listen while driving a car, because driving a car is purely reactive (the GPS is telling me when to turn, and otherwise I simply react to signs, traffic lights, and other vehicles without thinking much). But listening while coding doesn't work, I'll have to constantly rewind to a section of stuff that I've tuned out while reading docs or thinking about something else.

On the other hand, if someone prefers listening to analysis of the previous day's NBA games and because they live in Houston they don't care about the Bulls vs the Knicks, who cares if they tune that part out and miss most of it? Listen while you're watching TV or cooking dinner if that's what floats your boat.


Cheers! I could not agree more. McLuhan nailed it.


Just depends on what kind of work I suppose. You could probably learn a lot from podcasts while, for example, driving a truck, or working as a security guard.

I can't listen to podcasts while programming, but I can certainly learn a lot from listening to podcasts while cleaning the car, or working in the garage, or mowing the lawn.


I am not sure about the science of this, but personally it has to be work that doesn’t involve speech/language processing. It would be interesting to set up an experiment to see which activities involve speech processing that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with that role of the brain.


I think podcasts are good for discovering new things about a topic. I often mark things down as “look into this more” to actually learn later.


This is purely an elitist viewpoint.

Learning: the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.

Podcasts are great for learning. They're not great for learning skills, but they're great for acquiring knowledge.


Yeah, it’s pretty dumb to assume that your experience of learning amounts to universal axioms about education. I have learned a ton from podcasts over the last decade. In fact, apps like Airr and Snipd have come on the scene just for people who like to capture notes from podcasts.

I prefer Snipd, they use a bit of ML to predict useful start and end points around where you toggle the capture. They also generate transcripts for the podcast and the snip itself. It’s not perfect, but it makes editing your highlights a lot easier.


I've tried listening to Pluralsight courses as background noise and it does not work at all. Learning is an active activity, at least when it comes to skills.

The only thing I think I could "learn" through that kind of passive listening would be narrative stuff like history, or interesting global trivia. Maybe philosophy or policy at a stretch.


The thing has to be designed for background listeners to work as such. Lectures are designed for active listener and packed with dense information.

Good background podcasts are more conversational, repeat the same information twice, go slow and talk for long about one thing. So they work as background listening, but if you tried to actively listen you would feel like they are too long.


That like saying I only read badly written, boring books, so you cannot learn from books at all.

Already mentioned Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is amazing source of viewpoints and perspectives that completely upended my understanding of history.

> Couldn't imagine doing two things at once and calling one of them 'work' and the other 'learning'.

I doubt anyone here programs and listens to anything but essentially noise, be it music or podcast.

You cannot focus on two serious things at once. But that's not what we are talking about here. We are talking about doing a menial task like preping veg for cooking or cleaning doesn't require much attention. You can almost do those at autopilot and thats why people find it boring - because their minds wonder and seek stimulation. Since you dont need much attention for those tasks you can absolutely listen to audiobook or interesting podcast and learn something.


Couldn't have said it better, learning from only listening can be really hard under several conditions when something happening in front of you can snatch your attention away and make you miss a big chunk of info.


That's what the back/rewind button is for, though for many purposes you'd be better off listening to lecture series than podcasts for learning. I know I learned a lot about development economics from listening to Duflo and Bannerjee's lectures.


Listening to podcasts for learning is not any worse than using wikipedia, considering wikipedia articles quality (not a popular reading, but a learning-grade one). Both are equally far from what's needed for learning.


There are some that are decent but they aren’t nearly as entertaining as the popular podcasts. People especially love interview shows which are very surface level but fun to listen to


I think different people learn in different ways. Some people struggle learning from reading, and podcasts might work for them.


kind of feel like wikipedia is shitty for actual learning too except maybe for history


I prefer audiobook over podcast, for both entertainment and casual learning. Podcast to me contains too much fluff. My pet theory is that, (audio)book, being more effortful to create and listen to, provide better quality filter.

There are good podcasts for sure, e.g. Naval Ravikant and Guy Raz.


"Podcasts are my new Wikipedia" as far too often, it's watered down hearsay repeated by people with no formal education related to the topic, and at worst incorrect.


I've found podcasts are great for learning about news and history but I would shudder to try to learn anything math based from them.


Podcasts are an awesome source of misinformation. How many people actually look up sources after listening to a podcast? Based on what I observe, the number must be very very low.

It's something I personally noticed multiple times already, someone is incredibly misinformed on a certain topic, and when you dig deeper it turns out they're not simply indifferent to learning about it - on the contrary - they regularly listening to a podcast about it.


Not feeling like examples?

Anyway, I have no reason to believe podcasts are any worse than other typical places people would try to learn things. And surely the takeaway shouldn't be "don't try to learn"...


I listen to podcasts from trusted sources like BBC, The Economist or Wall Street Journal. I don't check their facts just like I don't when I read their published material. If I didn't trust my podcast sources I wouldn't listen to them. It's why I don't listen to New York Times podcasts.


I listen to podcasts that joke about the military / law enforcement / intelligence agency biases of places like the BBC, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal.

That's what's great about the medium, something for everyone! :D


I do it while listening to a podcast.


Anyone else here had podcasts destroy there brain?


> Instead, I started to listen to podcasts while I worked (mostly writing code),

OK, this is making me feel seriously snobbish. Dude, get a more interesting job! This is not how writing software is supposed to be. You absolutely should not be able to learn from a podcast while designing/implementing/testing software. There might be a few exceptions: e.g. tweaking CSS colors. But seriously, get a real software job -- you might find that you actually enjoy it.


I can't even listen to vocal-heavy music when I'm coding. Activates the same part of the brain or something.

It's either stuff I can't understand (growly metal music) or fully instrumental.


Agree with this. I recently got into strength training, started cranking out podcasts then. They've now extended in other aspects, grocery shopping, taking a walk during lunch, driving. I think it's nice to have entertainment without requiring my visual focus, especially when you stare at screen for the majority of the day.

Some of my favorites:

- Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: I've been a sick fuck with these really, started with the one over the history of nukes. Finished all the ones on spotify and paid for his library, worth every penny.

- 99% invisible: Love this one as it takes introduces some interesting topics of the design of everyday things, their definition of design is very broad so you get episodes all over the place

- Sucker for interview style podcasts with good guests but it depends on the guests, some options include: Knowledge Project, The Portal, Tim Ferris, Lex Friedman, Joe Rogan, Jordan Harbinger

- Azeem Azhar's Exponential View: my favorite tech related podcast, also has a great newsletter of the same title

- Conflicted: this is a really interesting one by an ex-Al Qaeda member turned M16 informant, really interesting perspective on middle east issues and other geopolitical things




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