January 12, 2023

Autio App Review: Audio Learning While Road Tripping

Recently I drove from California to Texas and back for the holidays and I downloaded and tested out an app for my iPhone that I’d heard of called Autio (it used to be called HearHere). The app features over 10,000 location-based audio stories across the United States. The short audio stories are narrated by many professional narrators. Actor Kevin Costner is a co-founder of Autio and also narrates some stories. I love taking road trips and I love learning about where I’m driving through, so I decided to purchase the very reasonable Autio annual membership at $35.99 and test it out. Note that the app is currently only available on iOS for iPhones and is not yet available on Android phones.

You can check out the Autio website here:

Autio.com Website

And you can download the Autio iPhone app here:

Autio: Location-Based Story Guide App

The app is very easy to use and intuitive, showing you all the audio stories on a map as markers that you can easily click on to listen to. The map shows your location, so you can pick out audio stories which are coming up on your journey. You can also scroll through all the names of the stories on the map to pick out the ones you’re wanting to listen to. The audio stories are short (usually under 5 minutes). The content of the audio is basically like a museum tour for the open road. It’s straightforward and factual with narrated recordings of well-written short-form content that usually pertains to the history of the area. One thing I thought that might’ve improved the audio stories was maybe having some recordings that were more like conversational podcasts. Like if they interviewed local historians about a particular place it might make for a more compelling listen. Also for major landmarks on the road, it might be nice to have some longer form audio content than just a 5-minute story. But that might not be scalable if you’re doing over 10,000 audio recordings! There were always plenty of audio story landmarks on the map to choose from which was nice.

One of the other challenges if you are out on the open road is having internet service to be able to stream the audio stories. A few times a story would get stuck buffering when I was out of service range. You can download stories if you’d like in advance if you have the forethought to do so. When you’re in a city the audio streaming is no problem, but when you’re in the middle of the New Mexico desert it can sometimes be challenging with the app.

Even if you’re not out on the open road, the Autio app can be fun to click around on. Go through the United States map and find places you’ve been or learn some new things about places you’ve never been. It’s a fun app that I’m glad I downloaded for road trips. When I wasn’t listening to audio books or podcasts or music, I’d switch over to the Autio app for a while to learn about my surroundings. I do hope the Autio app succeeds. 15 years ago I wrote a blog post called Guide to Audio Tours which covered dozens of walking tours, driving tours, museum tours, and more. But most of the resources and websites I linked to have disappeared. Hopefully, Autio will continue to be alive for years to come!

January 4, 2023

4 Talks by Historian Yuval Noah Harari Featuring His Big Ideas

Historian Yuval Noah Harari exploded onto the intellectual scene with his bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and followed that book up with two more bestsellers Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. In these four talks he has given over recent years he touches on many of the ideas featured in those books.

Yuval Noah Harari on Sapiens and the Myths We Need to Survive – In this talk from 2015, Professor Yuval Noah Harari addresses many of the ideas in his first bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. He is interviewed at Intelligence Squared U.K.. Harari explains many of the “myths” that humanity has utilized throughout its history from religion and political ideologies to money and capitalism. He argues that it is the historian’s purpose to attempt to liberate people from the stories of the past in order for humanity to survive and reduce suffering in the future. In the second half of the talk Harari answers many questions from the audience on topics such as patriarchy, love, and the future. It’s an excellent discussion put on by Intelligence Squared.

Yuval Harari on New Religions of the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari gave this lucid and dense talk at Google back in 2015. He begins the talk with the idea that the world’s main religion currently is liberalism and points out areas where the ideology of individual freedom is dominant such as in politics, economics, and art. As liberalism has spread, he argues that traditional religion has played more of a reactive role in a world where ancient texts don’t always address contemporary issues. Harari goes on to argue that liberalism in the future will be replaced by technological data science and algorithms and points to some of the ways that this is already happening. At the end of the talk he answers questions from Google employees who challenge him on many points. Whether you mostly agree with him or not, it cannot be denied that Yuval Noah Harari is full of ideas that will get you thinking!

Yuval Harari on Homo Deus – In this talk from The 92nd Street Y, historian Yuval Noah Harari talks about the future of humanity which he covers in his book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. He is interviewed by author and professor Dan Ariely, who wrote bestselling books like Predictably Irrational. They touch on many topics in this talk including Harari’s worries regarding the future of climate change and artificial intelligence. Ariely provides some humor to the talk as he inquires why Harari doesn’t find this big view of history and the future depressing. It’s an interesting one hour talk that doesn’t go into depth on any specific topic, but brings up a lot of ideas on many topics from these two unique thinkers.

Yuval Noah Harari on 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari returns to Google to discuss some of the ideas in his 2018 book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. In this interview, Harari addresses some of his top concerns for the 21st century including issues around artificial intelligence, biotechnology, climate change, and nuclear weapons. Harari separates out his ideas of God and religion and tries to clarify some of the confusion that often arises when touching on these topics. He points out that certain philosophical dilemmas are going to need to be addressed by developers, such as the ethical choices made by self-driving cars. Answering Google employees questions, Harari divulges his own reading and meditation habits. He also tries to point Google employees to the good technology can do, and he gives advice for us all on how we can better survive in the 21st century.

Stretch your mind with these great talks given by bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari!

September 10, 2022

Over 75 Free Audio Books from Princeton University Press on Spotify

Great educational audio books continue to be added to Spotify! The latest publisher we found that is offering audio books through Spotify is Princeton University Press. They’ve been publishing books for over one hundred years! The batch of titles they’ve added to Spotify consists of over 75 audio books covering a variety of topics including science, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, and more. These audio books are of their latest publications from many different scholars in their fields. We’ve made a playlist of these audio books on Spotify which you can access here:

Playlist of Over 75 Free Audio Books from Princeton University Press on Spotify

And you can browse all of their Princeton University Press audio books on Spotify by clicking the links below

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline

Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat by Benedicte Savoy

After One Hundred Winters: In Search of Reconciliation on America’s Stolen Lands by Professor Margaret D. Jacobs

Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Hand

American Afterlives: Reinventing Death in the Twenty-First Century by Shannon Lee Dawdy

The Arab Winter: A Tragedy by Noah Feldman

Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind by Susan Schneider

Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West by Justin Farrell

Brooklyn: The Once and Future City by Thomas Campanella

Central Asia: A New History from the Imperial Conquests to the Present by Adeeb Khalid

The Cheating Cell: How Evolution Helps Us Understand and Treat Cancer by Athena Aktipis

Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition by Edmund Fawcett

Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future by Louise I. Shelley

Dark Data: Why What You Don’t Know Matters by David J. Hand

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case & Angus Deaton

Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human by Robert Dunn & Monica Sanchez

Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon by Eric H. Cline

Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency by Finn Brunton

The Drama of Celebrity by Sharon Marcus

The Economics of Belonging: A Radical Plan to Win Back the Left Behind and Achieve Prosperity for All by Martin Sandbu

Eva Palmer Sikelianos: A Life in Ruins by Artemis Leontis

Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosoph by Susan Neiman

The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America by Nicholas Buccola

GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History by Diane Coyle

The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality by Kathryn Paige Harden

Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne Mayor

Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography by Robert Irwin

Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost by Caitlin Zaloom

An Infinite History: The Story of a Family in France over Three Centuries by Emma Rothschild

In Praise of Good Bookstores by Jeff Deutsch

Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic by Amin Saikal

Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason by Justin E. H. Smith

The Jefferson Bible: A Biography by Peter Manseau

The Joy of Science by Jim Al-Khalili

Land of Wondrous Cold: The Race to Discover Antarctica and Unlock the Secrets of Its Ice by Gillen D’Arcy Wood

The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild by Thomas D. Seeley

A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy by Nancy L. Rosenblum & Russell Muirhead

Making Up Your Own Mind: Thinking Effectively Through Creative Puzzle-Solving by Edward B. Burger

Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth by Jodi Magness

Michelangelo, God’s Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece by William E. Wallace

Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events by Robert J. Shiller

Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas that Drive Today’s Computers by John MacCormick

On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin Rees

The Origins and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann

A Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why by Renata Salecl

Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton by Nicholas McDowell

The Power of Cute by Simon May

The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities by Kate Bowler

The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work by Jan Eeckhout

Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America by Joshua Specht

Renewal: From Crisis to Transformation in Our Lives, Work, and Politics by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation by Roosevelt Montas

Rome Is Burning: Nero and the Fire that Ended a Dynasty by Anthony A. Barrett

Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains by Lucas Bessire

Saint Patrick Retold: The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint by

Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays by

A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You by Sean B. Carroll

The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause by Susan Mattern

So Simple a Beginning: How Four Physical Principles Shape Our Living World by Raghuveer Parthasarathy

The Spike: An Epic Journey Through the Brain in 2.1 Seconds by Mark Humphries

The Spirit of Green: The Economics of Collisions and Contagions in a Crowded World by William D. Nordhaus

Stalin: Passage to Revolution by Ronald Grigor Suny

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

Things Fall Together: A Guide to the New Materials Revolution by Skylar Tibbits

Translating Myself and Others by Jhumpa Lahiri

Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern by Mary Beard

Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work by Robert H. Frank

Unfabling the East: The Enlightenment’s Encounter with Asia by Jurgen Osterhammel

Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric D. Weitz

What Makes an Apple?: Six Conversations About Writing, Love, Guilt, and Other Pleasures by Amos Oz

White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea by Tyler Stovall

Why Nationalism by Yael Tamir

Why Trust Science? by Naomi Oreskes

Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment by Benjamin Storey & Jenna Silber Storey

Will This Be on the Test?: What Your Professors Really Want You to Know About Succeeding in College by Dana T. Johnson & Jennifer E. Price

The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States by Eric D. Weitz

Enjoy these free audio books from one of the best university presses in America!

November 27, 2021

iTunes U Shut Down, But Many Courses Still Remain

UPDATE! As you might’ve heard, iTunes shut down their iTunes U section at the end of 2021. iTunes U was launched in 2007 to showcase free educational material from universities, colleges, and other institutions. Now the bad news is that you can no longer browse iTunes U and some of their courses and offerings are gone. But the good news is that many of their courses have now moved over to the iTunes Podcast Directory. At LearnOutLoud we’ve tried to feature the top audio & video learning content that iTunes U had to offer over the years which we’ll highlight below.

After going through their courses which we featured, here are some of courses that still remain on the iTunes Podcast Directory and we still feature on our site:

Over 70 Courses & Lectures from Stanford University on iTunes & YouTube

12 Courses from La Trobe University

23 Free Courses from UC Davis on iTunes & YouTube

11 Courses from Arizona State University

16 Courses from East Tennessee State University

9 Courses from Utah Valley University

19 Courses from Missouri State University on iTunes & YouTube

12 Course from Seattle Pacific University

11 Courses from Harrisburg Area Community College

5 Courses from Parkland College

8 Courses from the New Jersey Institute of Technology

18 Courses from Covenant Theological Seminary

3 Courses from DePaul University

4 Courses from the Reformed Theological Seminary

4 University of Arizona Courses

And here are 30 other iTunes U courses we link to:

30 More iTunes Courses

And here are some of the individual courses and offerings we’ve featured over the years:

The Literature of Crisis

In addition to their other offerings through Stanford on iTunes, Stanford University is offering this course for free through iTunes U on audio download. This Intro to Humanities course entitled “The Literature of Crisis” explores crisis when it occurs at the personal, familial, and societal levels through six major works of literature. Professor Martin Evans and Marsh McCall are both dynamic lecturers that lead listeners through these works. While it seems a lot can be derived from the lectures without reading the works, you may want to read (or listen to) some of the works yourself in conjuction with listening to the lectures. Here are the works they examine (with links to these titles on audio book): Apology by Plato, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Hamlet by Shakespeare, The Aeneid by Virgil, and Candide by Voltaire.

Story of Freedom in America

Professor J. Rufus Fears was an American historian, scholar, teacher, and author, who was best known for his many courses he taught through the Teaching Company that produces The Great Courses. Now you can get one of his “great” courses absolutely free from the University of Oklahoma through iTunes U. In a series of 18 dynamic audio & video lectures supplemented by downloadable documents, Professor J. Rufus Fears tells the story of how America’s vision of freedom became a model for the entire world. As Fears argues in the first lecture, one of the main reasons America has endured is because the founding fathers used lessons from the past to make decisions in the present and plan for the future. This sense of what works historically and what we should avoid has given the great American leaders (from Jefferson to Lincoln to FDR) a sturdy precedent that can be used as a tool to forge ahead. With that established, Fears says the purpose of the course will be to reflect upon the lessons provided by major turning points in American history and how we can use this history to tackle the problems the world faces today. Enjoy this course from a truly great professor and historian. Now on YouTube.

Introduction to Human Anatomy

Utah Valley University Professor Michael J. Shively leads a course that will explore the structure and function of the most remarkable machine on earth: the Human Body. In a series of video lectures, Shively goes over how human anatomy is broken down to the sub-atomic level, back up to the “gross” or observable elements we can study with the naked eye. As they progress through the course, Shively asks his students to continually build upon what they are learning, providing a cell by cell, bone by bone picture of how human beings function and how we differ from other living beings. Fun and easy to digest, Shively’s dynamic videos easily draw both the student and the viewer in on a fascinating topic. This 38 lesson course is available on free video via iTunes U.

Jerusalem: The Holy City

UCLA professor Robert Cargill teaches a class that considers how the the three major world religions focused on Jerusalem as a center of holy significance. Cargill begins the course by tracking why a regionally unexceptional city became so important in the first place. Starting chronologically with Genesis, he traces the history of Jewish settlement in the region, to the rise of Christianity and the latter development of Islam. Throughout each lecture, Cargill tethers every historical era to the physical geography of the city itself, showcasing how cultural and religious development was mirrored by the changing significance of specific landmarks. Viewed in this light, Cargill’s course demonstrates how different cultures externalize and maintain their religious beliefs through physical objects and places. This course is available on video through iTunes U.

Colonial and Revolutionary America

The ways in which scholars and teachers approach American History has gone through a major shakeup in recent years, and in this free course presented by Stanford, students will be given a chance to assess the new ways we might investigate American origins. Historian and professor Jack Rakove identifies two strands of thinking when it comes to American history: the first, more conventional take examines American history through the prism of British colonial involvement and the transplantation of English institutions into North America. The second, more contemporary view sets the clock back to European “discovery”, starting with Columbus and tracing the vast exchanges over what became known as the Atlantic Ocean. Setting up his survey in these terms, Rakove explains that writing a strong narrative of American history has always been tough to do, and the course will try to navigate the complex series of interactions that led to the development of the North American continent up the Revolutionary generation. This course is available on audio through iTunes U.

Romanticism Course

Who were the Romantics? In this free course conducted by Timothy Morton, listeners will learn about an innovative literary period between 1790 and 1820 that produced influential writers such as William Blake, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Mary Shelley. Centered primarily in England at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic poets began to grapple with a changing world that was dominated by capitalist ambition, a growing consumerism, and the explosive development of democratic political reforms. Morton also feels that with this change there came a new self-awareness that the romantics tapped into, where many became conscious of a newfound intellectual and expressive freedom. The course will not only cover the writers and their work, but also pay special attention to how their thinking helped influence modern self-understanding. It’s being offered on audio on iTunes U.

How to Think Like a Psychologist

In this free mini-course provided by Stanford University, Upside of Stress author and psychologist Kelly McGonigal hosts a survey of current trends in psychology and how they might offer strategies for use in daily life. With each class, cutting edge psychologists offer a lecture on their specific areas of study, followed by lively interviews with McGonigal and questions from the class. Fascinating topics covered include how to use meditation to combat anxiety, finding practical techniques to manage our emotions, and what really makes human beings unique. A must for anyone interested in the role psychology plays in daily life, and for those that want to learn more about the newest, exciting innovations in the field. This course is available on video through iTunes U.

Enjoy what is left of iTunes U through the iTunes Podcast Directory!

May 1, 2021

1,000 Best Audio Books on Spotify

We’ve just added over 500 new audio books from Spotify into our Free Audio & Video Directory. That brings our total number of Spotify audio books to over 1,000. We’ve created a Spotify playlist on our LearnOutLoud Spotify account that you can use to find these audio books. The playlist features the first track of each audio book. Check out this playlist on Spotify:

Best Audio Books on Spotify Playlist by LearnOutLoud

In addition to music and podcasts, Spotify has increasingly become a destination for audiobooks. In order to listen to these audiobooks you’ll need a free Spotify account. You can listen for free with occasional ads, and they also have Spotify apps for easier listening on your computer or smart phone. If you want to listen ad-free and you love music as well, we can’t recommend Spotify Premium highly enough.

One of the issues with Spotify and audio books is finding the best audio books they have to offer. We’ve scoured through Spotify to find the highest quality audio books you can learn from and below we’ll list the publishers that have added many of their titles to Spotify. Browse through these publishers on our site and find some great audio books to listen to on Spotify today!

Spotify Podcasts & Audio Books – For titles that didn’t fit under another publisher, we’ve added them to our Spotify publisher page. Here you’ll find some classic literature audio books that Spotify has published with professional narrators, along with some podcasts that are exclusive to Spotify. There are also spoken word albums of speeches, poetry readings, comedy, and a lot more.

Dreamscape Media Audio Books – This publisher has hundreds of audio books on Spotify. We’ve picked out over 200 of their best educational audio books that you can listen to and added them to our site. Their titles cover a wide array of categories from self help to business to history and more.

Made for Success Audio Books – We feature over 250 audio programs from Made for Success which are available on Spotify and YouTube. They specialize in original audio programs to motivate you in your personal and professional life.

L.A. Theatre Works Audio Books – The best publisher of audio theatre has added over 80 of their plays to Spotify. You’ll find classic plays such as Twelve Angry Men and much more.

Penton Overseas Language Learning Audio Books – This publisher has added over 50 of their “Learn in Your Car” language learning audio programs to Spotify. Learn French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German, English as a Second Language, and more.

Scholastic Audio Books – Scholastic Audio specializes in contemporary books for kids and offers about 50 of their audio books on Spotify including The Hunger Games.

Speechworks Audio Books – If you like great speeches, then Speechworks features over 25 collections of original recordings of amazing speeches on Spotify.

Vibrance Press Audio Books – This publisher offers over 50 of their unabridged audio books on Spotify, mostly in the areas of personal growth.

BN Publishing Audio Books – Check out over 50 classic self help audio programs from BN Publishing on Spotify. Mixed in are some great speeches, classic radio programs, and other historic recordings.

CSA Word Audio Books – If you want to listen to classic literature in abridged format, then CSA Word has over 50 audio books that typically run 2-3 hours in length. These abridged classics feature outstanding professional narrators.

Novel Audio Books – They offer over 30 contemporary audio books on Spotify, with many nonfiction titles.

Saland Publishing Audio Books – Love Shakespeare? Saland Publishing offers over 25 full cast Shakespeare plays on Spotify with many superb actors.

Krishnamurti Foundation of America Audio Books – Listen to 30 audio programs from the renowned spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti on Spotify.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Audio Books – Smithsonian Folkways publishes a lot of music, but they also have released some great spoken word collections. We feature 15 of them from Spotify.

Musically Speaking Audio Books – Take a journey through classical music with over twenty “Conductor’s Guides” to some of the greatest music ever composed!

Osho Audio Books – Over 20 talks on Spotify from the famous spiritual guru Osho, also known as Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh (featured in the popular Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country).

NAXOS Audio Books – Listen to 27 hour-long introductions of famous operas and 11 4-hour-long composer biographies from NAXOS. They’re all on Spotify and we’ve collected them here on a blog post.

Earworms Audio Books – Over 15 language learning programs featuring essential words and phrases in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Japanese, and more.

The Relaxation Company Audio Books – The Relaxation Company offers over 30 of their pioneering audio programs on Spotify to help your relax with meditations, guided relaxations, and audio sleep aids.

There are even more audio books than that on Spotify, but the 1,000 audio books from these publishers we think are the best!