Podcasts – The Basics

Podcasting. It’s one of those internet buzz words. Everybody talks about it. But what is Podcasting? Podcasting is a way to distribute over the internet audio or video files using RSS or Atom Syndication. The file could be a professional radio program, a music video, or your own internet radio show. Just like you can listen to the “radio” on the “radio” with podcasting you have a “podcast” of a “podcast”. It means both the delivery method as well as the content. The underlying syndication technology was available in the early 2000’s but started to become extremely popular around 2004. Many podcasting websites let you download the file directly, but what makes a podcast a podcast is the automatically delivered new content. Since podcasting has been developed it has been rapidly embraced by many people on the net. It’s what you want to listen too, where you want to listen to it on your computer or mobile device, and how you want to listen.

Podcasting is a word blend of the words iPod and broadcasting. But don’t worry; you don’t need an iPod to listen to a podcast. The name came about because Apple Computer’s iPod was the best selling and heavily marketed MP3 player and most early practitioners of podcasting used iPods. This would later be part of the reason why Apple developed podcasting products and services in 2005 further linking their popular device with the very popular podcasting.

But how do you find, then get, then listen to a podcast? There are quite a few different options for folks out there. As always, please check the system requirements before installing any software. Most podcasts are in the MP3 format and can be played on your computer or MP3 player. Let’s have a little list of terms that might make all this techno mumbo jumble a little bit more understandable.

  • Feed – This is the address of the actual podcast. Many times it uses RSS. You can find out more on RSS here.
  • Media Aggregator – A program that lets you select and download audio files from all over the internet and download to your desktop.
  • MP3 – An MP3 is a compressed audio file that lets you can play on almost all media players on your computer or a stand alone device such as an iPod. You can read more on MP3s here.
  • Podcast – This is both the content and delivery method of an audio or video program available on the internet. It is different from a streaming or downloadable broadcast as it uses a subscription feed to get updated new content.
  • Podcaster – The podcast equivalent of a radio DJ.
  • Podcatcher – A program used to download and retrieve podcasts.
  • Subscription – This is what makes a podcast a podcast. You sign up through your podcatcher to receive new and updated content as it is released.
  • Web Directory – A listing on the internet of podcasts from many sites.

There you have the basics of podcasts. In my very next article I will be explaining how you can find and listen to your own podcasts. I’ll go into some different podcatching software and share a few web directories with you all.

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About Scott Dimeler

Scott is writer, a graphic artist, a web designer, and sometimes marketing guy. He has attended Penn State University and has held a number of jobs in the last seven years within the topsy-turvy tech industry. He currently lives with his yellow lab Boomer and the two silliest cats ever, Cheese Curl, and Gizmo in Central Pennsylvania. He has a deep love of everything scientific and technical but also likes to embrace and express his artistic side. He is an avid gamer and enjoys sci-fi and fantasy books and movies. He likes to travel and spend time with his friends that are scattered thorough out the country. Being laid back and always the person his friends and family turn to for technical advice, he has decided to broaden the range of people that he can help here on Families.com. He always tries to stay away from any sort of techno-babble or at least explain it in a way that everyone can understand easily. He would be happy to answer any questions you may have and looks forward to hearing from you all.