Sunday, May 07, 2006

Podcasting

What is Podcasting?
In the simplest terms, Podcasting is the mechanism of providing online audio or video files to iPods or any MP3 players. Podcasts can be used to watch missed TV programs while traveling in a car. You can watch your favorite game recoded and published as a podcast while waiting for your flight. Basically you can better use your free time to catch up on leisure activities while being on the move.

How is Podcasting different from a radio or a webcast?
In case of a radio, although you can choose different channels, there is no choice to be made in programs. On podcast, you can selectively choose to listen to any one program which is channel independent. It is similar to a webcast with the only difference that podcasts can be listened to and viewed from anywhere without sitting in front of the computer.

Why is it called Podcasting when I do not necessarily need an iPod?
Well, although the technology used in the background (RSS and ATOM) were in use from much before Apple made iPods, the whole culture of podcasting started after people began using iPods. Hence it kind of naturally took over the name by popular demand.

What has RSS / ATOM got to do with podcasting?
The podcasts are downloaded or synchronized in an iPod or mp3 player using the RSS or ATOM feeds. RSS version 2.0 is required for podcasting. The podcast provider will store the multimedia file to a specific location and feed the URL in the RSS / ATOM format. The list of files will be made available to the user using RSS aggregator software. The job of this software is to receive the list of files provided by the podcast provider with some more information like episode number, date, name and maybe some description to the users device.

How can I access a podcast?
You can access podcast either from an iPod (most popular) or any mp3 player. Podcasts can also be accessed from computers and in the future from mobile phones.
You need to subscribe to the podcast provider (typically a web site). Based on your subscription the podcast provider will ‘push’ the list of files / programs available in your channel to your device. You can selectively pick and choose which program you want to listen to or watch. Although you can access a podcast from a computer, an iPod, any other online mp3 player, or maybe your mobile phone, in my personal opinion the best advantage of podcast is the power of mobility. It gives you an option to use your time in a better way than looking out of the window while traveling. Please provide your comment on this thought.

How can I podcast?
If you want to publish an audio or video file for people to view, you need to follow a few simple steps:
1) You will need to create an audio or video file. You can do this by using a camcorder or a microphone system.
2) Send this file to a web site which accepts podcasts from individuals (some examples provided below)
3) You can now start telling your target audience about your podcast and where to find it from.

What are the sites that will accept my podcasts?
You can submit your podcasts to many sites, prominent among them being
iTunes, Podcasts Yahoo, Podcast Shuffle, etc

Can I provide the visitors of my website with podcasts?
Yes, you can provide your web site visitors with podcasts. For achieving this, you need to have a site supporting RSS 2.0 and a script which can be found here.

Anything new I need to know about podcasting?
Waxxi, a web startup company is organizing an event to help develop more interaction in the podcasting community. Refer here for more information about the event.

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