Well, 2022 was another "duck and cover" year and we spent a lot of time listening to Audible, Overdrive, Apple Podcast, and to a lesser extent Kindle books. It was a year of great book clubs (thank you Creative Destruction Labs) and even better curation as I was pretty aggressive about culling podcasts that I didn't finish). And I was inspired by Charles to deliver my opinions on the best readings for 2022. And John asked me about what i was reading as did Dave, so here you go. (I will also admit I asked GPT3 the same question courtesy of the ChatGPT3 menubar add-on for the Mac and the list was very different 🙂
My general rule for podcasts is that I curate them so that I can actually get through all of them in a week, so I keep dropping ones that I skip, but the ones below are the ones that have stayed with me over time.
Best Podcasts for Wider Knowledge
OK, for me, podcasts have two purposes. First to keep me up to date on things that I follow and want to know deeply and keep up on the latest developments and second to explore new areas I don't know much about, so first are the podcasts that are for deep knowledge in new areas in rough order of what I listen (and links to Apple Podcast and Tunein since that is all that Tesla supports and it is where on long trips I listen to a lot of audio, why is that, argh!).
Note that these don't include the top 10 podcasts typically, I love the smaller podcasts and ones without agendas and the voices have to be easy (at least for me to listen to):
- Sean Carroll's Mindscape (Apple, TuneIn). I mainly listen to this for the deep physics and random thoughts about amazing things like the Everettian many-worlds theory or the nature of Quantum Gravity. But I often find his AMAs to be just really great.
- Astronomy Cast (Apple, TuneIn). This is basically a novice view of the large-scale structure of stars and the universe. Nothing like learning there are three different generations of stars for instance.
- Hidden Brain (Apple, TuneIn). I actually learned so much about human nature from Shankar and he's found some great points that I always take to the bank. For instance, how the 1000 minds in our brains compete all the time between short term, "I want that cookie" to "I want a nice dinner" and how all that works.
- Quanta Science (Apple, Tunein). They always have something lovely and mathematical and the stories behind the people who discover things is great. Note that this is actually a series of Podcasts, I listen to the Quanta Podcast, but the Joy of Why and the Joy of x are great too, just a little much for me to listen to too much math.
Podcasts to keep up with Apple
OK, there are some podcasts that I need just to keep me up to date on the latest trends in Apple, Smart Home and AI which are the things I really follow closely and they are:
- Homekit Insider (Apple). I really like the series as it is great news and the Smart Home world is constantly changing. Plus their tempo is very good. We are at the start of really stable smart homes with Matter coming and this is good to keep track of things.
- Apple Events. While I do watch these if I can on YouTube, I often find that their audio-only track is good enough and it is usually only a few times during the year.
- MacRumors Show (Apple). I actually flip between Apple Insider, MacRumors, and Jason Snell for Apple news, so if I'm listening to Homekit Insider, I will listen to this as the news is pretty much identical.
- Jason Snell's Upgrade. (Apple) I actually flip between his many shows, but he's been around forever and Upgrade seems like it is the one I'm visiting the most often. Some great opinions and with this year featuring the new Apple AR/VR stuff, got to keep track of that.
Podcasts, Mastodon, and Subreddits to keep up with AI
While there are many shows that cover VC funding and things, the more interesting things to me are the new papers and ideas. While I get most of these Mastodon by some dedicated folks who read all the papers and highlight the good ones, I also like the podcasts too:
- @firstname.lastname@example.org. The easiest thing to do is to just follow me on my Sigmoid account, I have a bunch of accounts, but this is the one focused on AI and machine learning
- @email@example.com. You can actually pick how important a hackernews post you want to look at by picking @hn50 for 50 or more, @hn250 and @hn500, so tune how much spam you want.
- stablehorde. Just send it a "draw me a..." and it will return a stable diffusion image.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org. Wow he reads and summarizes a lot of a papers!
- https://sigmoid.social/@akhaliq. Another great paper source.
- #machinelearning and #ai following. This is the easiest way to see new papers and things and because Mastodon uses your followers to curate this, it's remarkably short and terse to do this.
That said here the the podcasts that I keep coming back to when I don't have time (which is all the time!) to read papers, but can listen to them:
- Papers Read on AI. This is a machine text to speech bot that is actually pretty good for reading interesting papers that Rob is curating.
- Yannick Kilcher. These are best as YouTube videos but he has an audio version which I like to use to survey and decide which videos to watch.
- Self Hosted. I haven't listened to many of these but have some great hopes here, there are not that many podcasts about new developer tools, and the one I listen to about setting up a Kubernetes system at home were great, so this goes on the I hope it is a good list. And of course they are focused on federated and open systems. And in the end we all want to just have everything running in our home 😉
There are many other podcasts, but I typically find the interview the latest startup thing not to be super useful. And I'm looking for a good technical podcast for beginners on biotech (but haven't found it) and one on what is happening China (still looking for that!).
Books that expand your horizons
Here are some of the books where I learned a few things. First thanks to the CDL Book Club which pushed me to read. I have to join another club so that I keep pushing. And I'll try to do a better job of keeping Goodreads up to date.
- Reality+. David Chalmers is incredible and thinking about what it means to be in a simulation is awesome.
- Outliers. Another book I missed, but actually the forward in some way is even more interesting, it turns out that having deep relationships just makes you live longer and happier. But the bigger theme is that there is no such thing as lone wolves, but we are the product of our environment.
- Why we sleep. Ok this is perilously close to a self help book but the idea that sleep is good seems pretty obvious. A kick the pants for me. The 5.5 hours a night guy on the way to 7 🙂
- The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time and Motion. From Sean, but this actually shows you the basic equations so you get some intuition on simple thing like the general theory of relativity 🙂
- Sapiens. Shows you how quickly we evolved for sure. I finally got around to reading this one and it's a good skim.
- Bad Blood. If you really want to understand how bad it got a Theranos.
- Crying in H Mart. We somehow missed the boat in 2021 on this one, but man is it a good exploration of life between Asian and American.
- The Body. I also am catching up here, but a good summary of all the mysteries of our bodies.
- What if. OK, I know this is the from the guy behind xkcd, but the sciene what if's are great!