Podcast? The Who, What, When, Why, and Where of Podcasts and Podcasting
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A new kid on the Internet block is the Podcast. It has gotten a lot of attention lately, but the majority of people have no idea what a Podcast, or podcasting, is. Many assume that it must have something to do with iPods (only partly true), and so must have something to do with the Order of the Apple (not true at all).

In reality, Podcasting has evolved to be a fancy name for creating an audio file, usually in MP3 format, and making that available as a content “broadcast” (hence the “cast” in Podcast), to subscribers on the Internet. Once you download the file, you listen to it on an MP3 playing device, such as (but not limited to) an iPod (hence the “Pod” in Podcast).


If you are at all familiar with blogs, and particulary with the concept of an RSS feed for a blog, think about a blog entry which is a recorded speech, rather than written text. And rather than your regular RSS reader retrieving the blog entry, a special RSS MP3 retreiver retrieves the audio “posts” for you.

There, if you understood that, you understand Podcasts.

Put another way, Podcasts lay somewhere in the no-man’s land between Internet radio broadcasts and text blog posts. Like a radio broadcast, it is a program, usually but not always spoken (some Podcasts offer music), however unlike a broadcast it is not pushed out to your listening receiver – you have to grab it as a file. Like RSS feeds of written blog posts, the content is made available for you to grab, but unlike written blog posts, it is audio.

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Podcasting is the act of recording and making available a Podcast.

One upside of the Podcasting model is that anybody with a computer, a microphone, and a connection to the Internet can do it. One downside of the Podcasting model is that anybody with a computer, a microphone, and a connection to the Internet can do it.

In a survey of the available Podcasts out there, Aunty found that most of them sound a lot like Wayne’s World Meets the MP3. There’s a lot of chaff out there, but also some darned good wheat.

 

Another upside is that you can listen to the Podcast on demand. Whenever you want to, because it’s not a live broadcast, but a file which is automatically downloaded (by your Podcast grabbing software), and listened to whenever you darn well feel like it (on your MP3 player of choice).

And speaking of Podcast grabbing software, by far and away the most popular software for finding and downloading Podcasts is iPodder, which is available at http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/. iPodder works on both PCs and Macs, and is free.

Now that we have covered the other Ws, let’s get down to one of the most important: Who.

Aunty has several professional friends who do their own Podcasts, and for the beginner Podcast listener, Aunty can recommend them highly because they offer quality content, interesting topics, and don’t sound like Wayne and Garth.

They are, in no particular order:

Aunty’s frequent guest columnist Leo Notenboom, of Ask Leo. Leo’s Podcasts offer weekly tech news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions received at Ask-Leo.com. Leo’s Podcasts are available at http://ask-leo.com/podcasts.html.

Amy Gahran, of [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead], who offers “News and musings on how we communicate in the online age”. Her Podcasts can be found at [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

David Lawrence, of Online Tonight fame. David offers a free 10-minute nightly Podcast covering “News of the day, last minute guests, calls we didn’t get to on the air, pop culture, tech, and entertainment.” You can get David’s Podcasts at [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

And finally, the always frenetic Chris Pirillo, and his Chris Pirillo Show. Chris’ show is Podcast weekly, and available at http://www.thechrispirilloshow.com/.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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