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What is a Podcast? - Podcasts

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by Miguel H (Y5C, 06-07)

What Is a Podcast?
A podcast is a multimedia file that is distributed by subscription Subscribe to pod (paid or unpaid) over the Internet used for personal playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Like 'radio', podcast can refer both to the content and the method of delivery; the latter may also be termed podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

The Origins of the Name
The term “podcast” comes from iPod and Broadcast, so it is related to the Apple device iPod. The name has aroused some controversy for implying one needs an iPod to listen to podcasts, when in fact all portable media players will play them. Creative Technology, the makers of iPod competitor Zen, state on the ZENcast website that podcast is short for "Personal On Demand Broadcast", a definition that didn't exist before its use by Creative.

Some alternate names have been proposed such as a more neutral term called "netcasting", suggested by podcaster and technology journalist Leo Laporte. Some of these name-changing efforts were the result of confusion over cease-and-desist letters sent by Apple to companies using terms similar to 'iPod' in their product names. However, the Apple Trademark Department has stated that Apple does not license the term 'podcast' or object to its generic usage. None of the alternate terms has yet received as wide a use as 'podcast.'

The term "podcasting" was one of several terms for portable listening to audioblogs suggested by Ben Hammersley in The Guardian on February 12, 2004.

The Creation
What makes podcasting distinct from other digital audio and video delivery is the use of syndication feed enclosures. The concept was proposed in a draft by Tristan Louis external link in October, 2000, and implemented in somewhat different form by Dave Winer external link, a software developer and an author of the RSS format.

RSS RSS, also xml pods (worded symbols), RSS symbol (graphic symbol) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated pages, such as blogs or news feeds. Consumers of RSS content use special browsers called aggregators to watch for new content in dozens or even hundreds of web feeds.

In October 2003, Winer and friends organized the first Bloggercon weblogger conference at Berkman Center. CDs of Lydon's interviews were distributed as an example of the high-quality MP3 content enclosures could deliver and Kevin Marks demonstrated a script to download RSS enclosures and pass them to iTunes for transfer to an iPod. While many of the early efforts remained command-line based, the first podcasting client with a user interface was iPodderX (now called Transistr), developed by August Trometer and Ray Slakinski and released in mid-September, 2004. Since then, a lot of new software has been released for podcasting, and ONE of the most famous is iTunes, coming from the iPod creators, Apple.

iTunes is a digital media player application, introduced by Apple Computer on January 10, 2001, for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The program is also an interface to manage the contents on Apple's popular iPod digital media players. Additionally, iTunes can connect to the iTunes Store in order to download purchased digital music, music videos, podcasts, television shows, iPod games and feature length films. iTunes has gained and maintained a reputation for being easy to use while still providing many features for obtaining, organizing, and playing media. It is available as a free download (check out links below) from Apple's website, is bundled with all Mac computers and some iPods and supplied with Mac OS X.

Quick iTunes Guide
Once you have downloaded and installed iTunes from Apple (English external link - Spanish external link) , you’ll see a series of options on the left side of the interface.

For downloading podcasts, select the option iTunes Store. You’ll enter, through Internet, the online shop where you can download free videopodcasts, for instance. Select podcasts from El iTunes Store menu (left top). Then you can select a Category and chose a particular podcast.

Once you are in a podcast subscription webpage, you can click on SUBSCRIBE (SUSCRIBIRSE) next to the picture (it is usually free), or you can directly choose Get Episode (Obtener episodio) for free (if it is free, of course). You’ll see below the left option iTunes Store a new option, Downloads (Descargas); and when it (or they) is finished, you can go to Podcasts and listen to it, copy it, or do whatever you want with it.

Some Uses of Podcasts (Taken from Wikipedia external link)
Podcasting can be used in a number of different ways, including:

bullet A way for news organizations to distribute audio or video as an addition to their existing text (or mostly text) news products.
bullet Education. Podcasting can be categorised as an m-learning external link strategy for teaching and learning. In 2004 Musselburgh Grammar School external link pioneered podcast lessons with foreign language audio revision and homework
bullet Religion. Godcasting has been used by many religious groups. Many churches produce podcasts of talks and sermons. Disciples with Microphones provides podcasts relating to the Catholic Church.
bullet Unofficial audio tours of museums (musecast).
bullet Television commentary. Battlestar Galactica writer and executive producer Ronald D. Moore creates commentary podcasts for each new episode of Battlestar Galactica.
bullet Newspapers. Newspapers use podcasts to broadcast audio content from print interviews and drive traffic to their websites.[Example: The Washington Post Podcast external link]
bullet Public libraries can podcast local publications free of Copyright, offering spoken word alternatives to the visually impaired.
bullet As a promotional vehicle for an upcoming event, such as Pixar's Cars Video Podcast, which advertised the release of Disney/Pixar's Cars animated feature film with a series of behind-the-scenes episodes.