When I hear the phrase “consuming media” I picture some dystopian future: faces glued to screens, eyes wide open with a blank expressions, zombies binge-watching Netflix for days on end.

But really we’re in a utopia of sorts. Thanks to the Internet, we all have access to a greater quantity and wider variety of media than ever before. There are dozens of ways to dive into topics you’re interested in, keep up to date with news, or learn about something new. I’ve been trying to broaden my media-consuming horizons, and below are some of my favorite outlets.


Music: At this point, anyone who likes more than just Top 40 radio should subscribe to a streaming service. I’ve tried many serivces but I always come back to Spotify: they’ve got a huge selection, a beautiful mobile app, a decent social interface for sharing music with friends, and more. And if you like to listen to music while working (I know many programmers do), it’s worth the price to get rid of the ads.

For music news and reviews, I’ll occasionally browse Pitchfork or NPR Music.

Podcasts: Although they’ve been around for a decade or so, podcasts seem to be really taking off lately. It’s impossible not to find a podcast about something you’re interested in, and they’re a great alternative to music or reading for the morning commute. To manage subscriptions and find new podcasts, I use PocketCasts (both the mobile app and the web app): it’s worth a few bucks for cloud-syncing and great playback controls (speed, seeking, etc).

I listen to podcasts about design (99% Invisible), culture (Invisibilia), economics (Planet Money), and my personal favorite, comedy (Comedy Bang! Bang!).


Technology: Anyone in the business of technology, especially developers like me, should keep up with the latest trends. Hacker News is pretty much my one-stop shop for news about web development, startups, trends, and other tech news. The site is Reddit-esque; content is posted and voted on by users, and the top-rated links make it to the front page. The comments are a nice touch, providing context and (usually) sound critique.

On occasion I’ll branch off into web dev-specific sites, like Smashing Magazine and A List Apart.

Books: I was one of those people who “didn’t have time to read.” Then I graduated college and started taking public transit to work. With over an hour in transit each day, I finally had some time to pick up a book. And since going to a bookstore or even ordering online was too much work, getting a Kindle worked out nicely. I even subscribed to Kindle Unlimited for a few months, which helped me plow through the collected works of Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut.

I haven’t given audiobooks an honest shot yet, but Audible seems like a good place to start if you’re interested.

News: I never really kept up-to-date with the news (aside from what little I gleaned from The Daily Show), so recently I’ve been trying to fix that. As part of the Productivity Pack I got an 8-week subscription to the New York Times site/app, and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. The “daily brief” section is perfect for a quick refresher, and the articles themselves are well written and enjoyable.

For technology and culture news I’m a big fan of The Verge. Honorable mention to sites like Ars Technica and Vox, and the app Circa.


Coding: In between personal projects, I have some other ways of keeping my coding skills sharp. Code School is a great site for learning new languages - they specialize in HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, and iOS - and brushing up on the basics. Their detailed video lessons, combined with interactive coding exercises, really do the trick. My company is nice enough to be sponsoring my account, but even if I was paying for it myself I’d happily recommend it.

There are also sites that specialize in programming exercises, like Project Euler and CodeKata, and even podcasts like Developer Tea.

Everything Else: In between Netflix and Hulu, I try to watch some web series that’ll teach me something new. Crash Course is my personal favorite, with series on topics from Psychology to World History to Literature. Until recently there were only one or two active courses, hosted by creators John and Hank Green. But a new partnership with PBS Digital Studios is allowing them to add even more ongoing courses with new hosts.

Speaking of PBS, the PBS Idea Channel - hosted by Mike Rugnetta - is another great place for interesting discussions surrounding news and culture.

And There’s So Much More!

TV and movies are great, but there’s so much more out there. Try browsing a new site, listening to a new podcast, or following a vlogger on YouTube. Each presents a great opportunity to dive deeper into a subject you are interested in, and may even introduce you to something new entirely.

Everything I’ve listed above is already too much for me to possibly consume, so I phase in and out of things - more reading this month, a new podcast the next. But I’m always looking for new and interesting things to read/hear/watch, so if you’ve got something for me post a comment below or tweet at me!

Cover Image by David Organ (flickr)