Podcasting - Its Beginnings, Significance, and Future Direction
"Podcasting" is a term coined from the Apple Computer Corporation product - the iPod, which is a portable digital audio device that lets its users store music from their computer to the device so that they can listen to it anywhere, anytime.
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What is podcasting?
'Podcasting' is a term coined from the Apple Computer Corporation product - the iPod, which is a portable digital audio device that lets its users store music from their computer to the device so that they can listen to it anywhere, anytime.
However, the term is no longer exclusive to the actual iPod product. It now can mean any software and device system that allows the user to download audio (usually in MP3 format) and store onto the device for the user's listening.
What makes this different from radio or other Web-based media is that podcasts allow users total control over when they access and listen to the audio material. It does so by using the RSS standard or Real Simple Syndication.
The difference from broad and Web casts lies in how the material is created and distributed over the Internet. Instead of a centralized source and stream, podcasting is capable of sending the audio content directly to individual iPods and similar devices.
Who does podcasting?
Practically anyone with access to the Internet can podcast. As much as blogging began in this way, so does podcasting, whose appeal lies in the ease and convenience of creating and transmitting any audio material via the World Wide Web.
Broadcast industry players and radio shows syndications are only now riding the bandwagon by formatting their material as podcasts. But the great thing about this technology is that even non-pros can use podcasting to share their self-produced content in order to voice out their own opinions.
How does podcasting work?
Podcasting is almost an inevitable outcome of the Internet where great ease is given to anyone to publish anything and distribute it anywhere.
Users can connect their audio devices to their computers, access a podcast subscription, and download the feeds from the site. The audio is accessed by the user from the source and is automatically stored in the device. Numerous resources on the Internet detail how to improve podcast quality in terms of sound, equipment, and content.
What makes podcasting so popular, and therefore powerful, is its aural (listening) nature, which many deem superior over text (reading). Listeners of podcasts are able to learn in conjunction with another activity such as during a commute or exercise.
Why is it important?
A great plus factor for podcasting is in the realm of education. While it cannot totally replace the classroom setup, podcasts can provide teachers yet one more way to connect with students. As almost all young people live on the Internet and many own portable audio devices, the possibilities of giving them something useful and educational through this means are great.
Where is it headed?
Enthusiasts have yet to find a limit to the uses of podcasting. This is most seen in the unabated growth of sites that categorize hundreds and thousands of podcasts and make them easily accessible to subscribers.
Even now, podcasting is developing at near breakneck speeds. Users and subscribers are becoming more discriminating, demanding new features for categorizing and indexing podcasts. As such, podcast producers are looking for new ways to enhance the simple audio format to deliver experiences that will not only entertain but educate as well.
The breadth and reach of podcasting is only now being realized but its growth is by no means slowing. With more and more rich media finding distribution on the Web, the quality of podcasts rely on how informed people are - both in creating and subscribing to content. The more you know about them, the better position you are to becoming a podcaster not only of popularity but, more importantly, of substance.