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ICSE > ICSE Articles > Computers & Internet > The Basics Of Podcasting

The Basics Of Podcasting


Podcasting in its simplest form is the uploading of MP3 files to the internet, where they can be accessed by the majority of the online universe with little more than a modern browser. You might consider a podcast to be an audio blog, although podcasts are basically standalone units of communication and not limited solely to “audio.” The term is also applied to short video pieces that are uploaded for general consumption; that is becoming more common, but the term was born as a reference to the audio format. Although the term stems from Apple’s iPod line of products it is generic in nature and refers to any MP3 (and increasingly, video) file provided via one Internet channel or another.

To that end, the number of channels that are now using podcasts is nothing short of phenomenal. They are used in educational formats (distance learning programs) and by the mainstream media. Business Week Online is an example of excellent utilization of the format. They provide professionally conducted interviews with both newsmakers in the business world and with experts on topics like developing technology. It is both an extension of their current events function and the features section of the magazine that focuses on broader industry analysis.

Every major news outlet online – ABC, ESPN, Fox, CNN and so forth – use podcasts to augment their print-and-graphics webpage formats. You can find them on political websites and blogs, often carrying the candidate’s message but more often carrying the opponent’s gaffe. This particular phenomenon has led to the practice of campaigns hiring “trackers” to trail their opponent from public event to public event with a video camera, hoping to catch a misstatement, a contradiction or some sort of unfortunate occurrence that can be distributed via the assortment of political websites and blogs that clog the web today.

You can now “subscribe” to podcasts that are delivered via an RSS application automatically to your computer. “Podcasters” are individuals or information distributors of some sort that provide an ongoing series of podcasts. Podcasts very quickly found their way to the marketing and advertising industry, which as adopted them for widespread use on the Internet. Video podcasts in particular have become the most recent form of “popup” advertising on the web. You can be clicking through a commercial site and suddenly you are watching a commercial.

The proliferation of podcasts that are webcasts of mistakes, poor behavior or just plain foolishness began with people in the public eye but now extends well beyond the currently and formerly famous. Because these snippets of audio and video are so widespread and move across the digital network so quickly, one begins to feel uneasy. What if someone catches me falling off a bicycle and thinks it looks funny enough to share?

When email entered our society, it provided a screening device to communication that was somehow comforting. Podcasts and to some degree the whole social networking phenomenon create the opposite effect. It’s easy to feel exposed, regardless of the fact that you’re still one person using one computer.

For a technical explanation of the various methods of podcast delivery, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting. They provide an excellent and extended explanation of the various software options and delivery choices that you can make in allowing podcasts into your life. For a fairly comprehensive directory of podcast feeds and sources, try http://www.podcast.net/. As a good resource for news in the podcast universe and also for a directory, there’s http://www.podcastingnews.com/

About The Author

Madison Lockwood is a customer relations associate for http://www.apollohosting.com. She helps clients understand how a website may benefit them both personally and professionally. Apollo Hosting provides website hosting, ecommerce hosting, & VPS hosting to a wide range of customers.

Date Posted: May 16, 2007

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