I’ve become very experienced with this term over the past few months, but most of my family and friends probably have no idea. It’s to be expected, since this term was created only ~18 months ago. I thought I would take a few minutes and explain it.
A podcast is nothing mysterious and the way that you use a podcast is not new, remember Napster in 2000? Maybe not. For the listener, all you have to worry about is clicking on a link and downloading a sound file. MP3 is a very common, I use it for all my CDs that have been copied into the computer. A podcast is very much like a talk radio show, not the political nonstop blather you usually hear on AM radio. It is specific to a subject; quilting, beer making, technology news, etc.
Why is it this “new” term if it’s like talk radio and uses files like the ones 6 years ago? And why is it called podcast? Where are the body snatchers, should I be concerned? As technology has evolved things have gotten cheaper, objviously. This includes audio recording and playback technology, remember when everyone had a Walkman? Today they have iPods made by Apple computers, the same Apple that sold lots of computers to schools when I was in High School. An iPod is a about the size of a tape player, maybe a little smaller. Where a tape held about 45 minutes of music per side, an iPod holds 20 hours or more. You plug the iPod into your computer copy those CDs from your computer onto it. Songs are fine, making them portable is great. Most Americans have a 30-60 minute commute to work everyday that gives them an opportunity to use that iPod (Amarillo is great, 8 minutes baby). Some very inventive people started recording themselves talking about their interests. They would sit near the computer with a microphone or a digital tape recorder and interview or discuss something that they really got into. Then they posted this recording on the internet. Boom, Podcasting is born. Coupled with the iTunes music store and a technology called RSS it’s easy to find Podcasts and get them when they are created.
The basic process it that you find something your interested in on the Internet, subscribe to it, plug in your iPod to copy it, and listen to it while you’re away. What if you don’t have an iPod? Great, I don’t. Burn a CD for the car or listen to it on the computer while you’re working on something else. The result is like having a talk radio where you pick each one of the programs. My favorites are TWit (This Week in Technology), EUP (Explaining Unexplained Phenomena) and BBR (Basic Brewing Radio). It’s free, easy, and educational.
Twit is created by Leo Laport of Tech TV fame. Answering the question what do Tech Journalists do when they’re laid off. EUP is an actual Public Talk Radio show recorded in Lincoln, Nebraska. BBR is someone interesting in making home beer. Very information intensive, his sessions with the Wyeast founder are very helpful.
So, that’s all there is to it. Just a file you copy off the Internet and play on your computer.