What is podcasting?
I can remember a few instances where family and friends asked me about podcasting. Seems that they had all heard the word and were certain that it had something to do with an iPod, but didn’t really know what it meant. I had to really think about how to explain podcasting and I thought a post about podcasting might be useful to others as well.
A podcast is a form of digital media (audio or video) that is delivered to folks over the Internet. Not only is the media delivered via the Internet, but it also has the distinction of allowing you to subscribe to the podcast to receive the content automatically when available.
You don’t need to have an iPod or any other portable media device in order to watch or listen to a podcast. All you need your computer, an Internet connection and any modern web browser (you can listen and/or watch right in your browser if you choose).
Who are the podcast creators? They are people like you and me who have a passion for the subjects. Anyone can create a podcast and there are lots of resources out there to help. Try libsyn.com for more info.
Podcasts are easy to find. Podcasts are categorized by type of content, and just about anything you can think of is covered. In fact there are most likely multiple podcasts about any particular subject.
Here are a few good places to start your search:
http://podnova.com/ (highly recommended)
http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php (NPR produced content only)
Once you get a good look around at some of these sites and choose a few podcasts you like, you’ll notice that somewhere on the page where you found the podcast there will be a subscribe link, or an icon that look like the one below.
This is the syndicated feed or RSS link for the podcast and is a very useful link.
When you click on this link you can subscribe to the podcast and no longer have to visit the site each day. The podcast will automatically be downloaded onto your computer when there is new content. Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox browsers will interpret the link and allow you to subscribe. Another way of doing this is to find that RSS, Subscribe link and past it into a podcast receiver program.
A podcast receiver program is a piece of software (usually free) that you can download and install on your computer to help you manage all your podcast subscriptions. They allow you to view your podcasts in a more organized way, search, download additional podcast episodes and set scheduled of when you want to check for new content. One other BIG benefit of using a podcast receiver is that you can transfer the downloaded podcasts onto a portable media player, allowing you to take your content with you. This is great if you don’t want to sit around on you computer to listen to your content. Go to the gym, take it in the car, go on a run, or just lie down and relax while listening.
You don’t have to have an iPod to use iTunes for podcasting, however it can only transfer content to an iPod, so if you want to take your podcasts with you, you’ll need and iPod. (This is technically not true, but much too complicated to try and fight it). iTunes supports both Windows and Mac operating systems. Download iTunes from the apple website.
One of the first, and best receivers out there. Supports lots of devices – anything that can play an mp3 (including iPods), and runs on both Windows and Mac. Download Juice from Sourceforge.
More info on podcasting.