Friday, December 5, 2008

11. Discover podcasting

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minute commentaries to much longer in-person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area.

We have found that there are a number of misconceptions about podcasts. Here are five things you need to know about podcasting:

  1. You do NOT need an iPod (or any kind of device beyond a computer) to listen to or view podcasts. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portal device) with headphones or a speaker.
  2. Podcasts can be audio, video, or "enhanced" podcasts with bookmarked slide shows.
  3. Software to listen to or view podcasts is FREE on both PC and Macintosh.
  4. A lot of interesting podcast content is FREE.
  5. Podcast files are downloaded, not streamed. So you don't need a lot of bandwidth -- just time to do the download.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options.

For this discovery exercise participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your Google Reader account, so that when new casts become available you’ll be automatically notified of their existence.

Visit the NN/LM MCR podcast page; you can listen to podcasts about community health.


There are many, many podcast directories and finding tools out there:

What? You want to learn how to be a podcaster too? Here are some resources:

  • Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed above and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting library-related podcasts like book reviews or library news.
  • Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your Google Reader account
  • Create a blog post about your discovery process. Did you find anything useful here?

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