Monday, April 09, 2007

Lesson Three: The World of Podcasting

Lesson three of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

Now we’re getting into an area that I love. I’ve been listening to podcasts for a little over a year and producing a podcast for my office since September. Podcasting has only been around 31 months, but already, 12 percent of Internet users are listening (see story at podCast411).

So just what is a podcast? Well, many make comparisons to radio shows. But that’s only partially true.

How podcasts are like radio shows.
* You listen to them.

How podcasts are not like radio shows.
* You listen to what you want.
* You listen when you want.

The advantage of audio is that you can be doing other stuff while you listen, like driving or exercising. And yet, audio still has a unique intimacy.

Despite the name, podcast, most listeners listen through their computers. Others use their iPods or other kinds of mp3 players. The cool thing is, that when you find a program that you like, you can subscribe to it, for free, using RSS. You don’t have to go back to the program’s web site to see if a new episode has been released. Instead, it comes to you. It’s the RSS feature that turns an audio file into a podcast.

There’s a great article at Entrepreneur's Journey, “What is a Podcast and How Can I Use One?” if you want a bit more detail.

There are several “podcatchers” out there. But the most used nowadays, by far, is iTunes by Apple. It’s free. It’s not limited to Macs. And while it works best with iPods than with other players, it’s fine for listening from your computer.

So your first homework assignment this month is to set up an iTunes account if you don’t already have one.

Krause’s English 328 Web Site and Blog has easy step-by-step instructions, "How to set up iTunes and an RSS Feed.”

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