A podcast is some type of online audio content delivered through a Webfeed or a link on a specific web site in the form a digital audio file. For example, if you have a favorite news channel, you could use this technology to download the latest news for the day and play it either on your computer or mp3 player such as iPod or Media player (any mp3 compatible device). A podcast could also be compared to TIVO in that you can choose what audio programming you want to listen to. So if you missed the president’s speech the other night, simply download the podcast and listen to it on your commute to work.
What is truly great about podcasting is that any business can take advantage of it. Some of the more popular uses of podcasts include: radio, music, talk shows, and news commentary. For the innovative thinker, podcasts could be used to broadcast your quarterly earnings reports, interviews about your growth potential, self-guided tours, children’s books, church sermons, and the list goes on and on. Can you see the possibilities? You no longer have to wait to hear radio content; you can now choose what you want to hear and take it with you to listen to at your convenience.
Now that you know what you want to do with podcasts, you may wonder how they are created. In order to create a podcast, you must take your audio content (created using a digital voice recorder or specialized software such as Audioblog) and save it as a digital audio file such as an MP3 or WMA. There are a variety of file formats available today for you to choose from. Once you have your digital audio content in the proper file format, you can play it either on your computer or any MP3 player that supports your file format.
Why is it getting so popular? People today are downloading music and audio content at an alarming rate. With the increased sales of MP3 players, more and more people can take advantage of podcasts by simply downloading them to the handheld MP3 players.
When your podcast becomes known or popular, people can subscribe to your webfeed or visit your website to download your podcast and listen to it in their car, while working out or just hanging around the house at their own convenience.
Now if you do not own a MP3 handheld player, all you really need to take advantage of podcasts is high speed internet access and a common program such as Winamp, Windows Media Player, or RealPlayer to hear it. You can download podcasts to your laptop or desktop and play them through your speakers.
Podcasting is still malleable as it is an emerging technology. It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next 12 months as it hits the mainstream. The future of podcasting will shift our time away from the old medium of radio and into the new medium of on demand broadcasting which is what Podcasting really is. No more waiting for what we want to hear. We will choose what we want to hear when we want to hear it. Now that is powerful.
Steven Warren is an IT consultant for the Ultimate Software Group and a freelance technical writer who has been a regular contributor to Datamation (where this column first appeared), CIO Update, TechRepublic, TechProGuild, CNET, ZDNET and DatabaseJournal.com. He has released a ‘how-to’ book on VMware Workstation and holds numerous certifications. You can visit his Web site here.