What is Podcasting?
A podcast is an audio or video file that is used on a website – but also has something a little bit extra. The term was originally derived from 'ipod' and 'broadcasting' and was added to the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2005. The really clever bit is that once you add a little widget to the file called an RSS feed then all of your subscribers will get the latest podcast, downloaded automatically to your computer, i-pod or i-phone. This enables a company to issue a series on a particular subject to all of its subscribers – in essence it is the most efficient newsletter, delivered as soon as it is published.
This mode of delivery is what differentiates podcasts from other
ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple
download or streamed webcasts. The end user needs to sign up to
special client software applications known as podcatchers (like
iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp). Most people use iTunes as it comes
with your ipod and is really simple to subscribe to a particular
podcast and this automatically identifies and downloads new files
in the series when they are released. In essence, new files are
downloaded automatically by iTunes and stored locally on the user's
computer or other device for offline use, giving simpler access
to episodic content.
Most dictionary definitions of a podcast fall into one of two camps. One set focuses on the ‘on-demand’ nature of podcasts. Another set requires the automatic or syndication posting. There are problems with both definitions. The first is too open. Under such a definition, a paid music download could technically be a podcast. Most audiences would disagree. The second is too limiting. It does not allow for manual downloads. Researchers at the Center for Journalism and Mass Communication Research at the University of Texas at Austin are proposing a three-part definition of a podcast: first, that it is episodic; second, that it is downloadable; and third, that it is program-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme.
Like the term broadcast, podcast can refer either to an ongoing series or episodes of a particular program. A podcaster is the person who creates the content.
Where can I download Podcasts?
There are loads of podcasts out there and this medium is growing. The best websites to find a large variety of podcasts content are: