Tell Me About... Podcasting

You may have heard the buzz; podcasting has quickly gained world-wide popularity. Some of you might be asking, so what is the big deal about podcasting anyway?
Published: Jun 29, 2006
Author: Stacy Reed
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You may have heard the buzz; podcasting has quickly gained world-wide popularity. Some of you might be asking, so what is the big deal about podcasting anyway? Well, try to think of podcasts as on-demand radio, doing for Internet audio content what TiVo does for TV. It's the method of distributing audio, and in some cases, video content over the Internet using RSS or Atom syndication. People can download or stream these multimedia files on thier computers or mobile devices such as iPods and PDAs. Most podcasts are talk shows, tutorials, music, or some type of audio content released in "episodes" like news reports or journals. A person who authors this content is called a podcaster and most times, they post new content on a regular basis.

Anyone can podcast. If you have something to say, podcasting can help you reach your audience. Instead of pushing text from blogs and news sites, podcasting sends audio content directly to an aggregator, iPod or other MP3 player. All you need is a microphone, audio (or video) recording software and an Internet connection. This is how it works: The content provider creates the file, and makes it available on the Internet, usually by posting the file on a publicly-available webserver that supports RSS feeds with enclosures (enclosures are a way of linking to media files within an RSS 2.0 feed). Then they publicize the content by promoting it on their own site or by sharing the file with others using an online service or podcast host. Users simply go online and subscribe to the feeds they want to hear. Once the user subscribes to the feed, they can receive notifications through an aggregator whenever podcasts are submitted in the future. Some aggregators can automatically download a podcast once it has been posted by the author. They are called podcatchers. In this way, users can choose exactly what they want to hear, when and where they want to hear it.

Though you can create your own RSS 2.0 feed with any text editor, there are numerous programs available to help users with that part of podcasting. In fact, there are many applications and online services developed for the sole purpose of creating and sharing podcasts. For instance, ePodcast Creator by Industrial Audio Software claims to be the only software you'll ever need when it comes to creating audio podcasts. The software lets you record, edit or upload voice and music tracks separately or as mixed tracks. Combined with online podcasting services that host files or offer social communities, users can focus on producing the content without worrying about the technicalities.

Services such as Odeo and Audblog, offer the ability to record audio by calling in from a telephone! Another great audio recording application, Audacity is completely free, available for OS X, Windows, and GNU/Linux. It is open source software that allows users to edit their audio in preparation for publishing.

So there you have it, podcasting is a very versitile, cheap and fun way to make your voice heard. In no time at all, you can start your own radio show, send voice messages to your granny back home, or share your knowledge with others! Personally, I love to listen and I'm not the talkative type. I'd rather listen to what all of you have to say, so if you have a podcast you'd like to share, post a link to it in the forums by clicking "Discuss this article" below!

For further reading and listening:

About Stacy Reed

Stacy Reed is Tucows' resident software librarian and editor. She has been reviewing PC and mobile software as well as web services for over a decade. Helping developers improve and promote their products is only one of her areas of expertise. Stacy is also an advocate for Open Source, Creative Commons and freeware, taking special interest in educational resources, social media, cloud sharing, and mobile technology.

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