If you have been on Internet for even some time lately chances are you might have come across the word podcast. Confusing to lot of people as it may seem at first, the concept is simple and straightforward.Lets demystify this podcast phenomenon.
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So what is this podcast thing?
Speaking for the comman person when you think of podcast think of episodes of your favourite TV show. Just as TV show episodes follow each after regular time periods (may be daily, weekly etc) similarly podcasts also follow each other. TV shows are broadcast into the air you may or may not decide to view them similarly podcasts are let loose over the Internet again you may or may not choose to listen or view them.
How is podcasting done?
The initial phase of recording and editing are generally similar to that of TV and radio shows( although podcasts generally have a lot more goofs), but after this initial phase podcasts have to be packaged into files that you can download and view either on your computer or on your ipod or other devices(actually ipod is the main reason they are named podcasts). All these files are then made available for download by the podcasters. Generally the podcast has its own site where you can go and download the episode you want to.
So how is the payment done? Is it costly?
Well it turns out that all the podcasts that I have come across to date (some four thousand) are all free, If there is a paid service then I am not aware of one at this moment, but then who will pay when literally you have thousands of free channels or podcasts to choose from. Will you?
Why would someone do podcasts if they are free?
Podcasts are free for you to view and download but people get paid via advertisments(yep, sadly ads here too, but the best part is we can skip ahead :)) in the podcasts. Some sites have podcasts linked to their sites content so such podcasts help in promoting the website, or some people do it just because they want to express themselves and let the world know of their prespective (see some similarity to blogging here?).
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Ok its free thats ok but that going to sites to download thing seems too much of a hassle. Can’t I just somehow switch channels as I do on TV ?
Actually you can. With additional software on your computer you can essentially have the "channel changing experience". In fact you might already be running some of this software, heard of Winamp or Amorak? Or the good old iTunes? Yes they can be used catch podcasts of the net automatically on to your computer. Other softwares worth considering here are Miro, podget on linux and the latest Rythombox player. (PS Presently working on setting up MythTV to view podcasts and TV shows, pause live TV, record TV shows. As soon as I complete it will let you know the complete setup). You can even convert it for your iPod or other portable device and listen or view them on the go!
Enough of the background but whats the content like? Is there something worthwhile to view or listen to?
As I said earlier, there are thousands of audio and video podcasts to choose from so you can very well imagine the content scenario here :). You can get anything ranging from tech shows, gaming shows, comedy, drama, science shows, DIY tutorials, hacks, photoshop, fashion, sex education pretty much everything. Lets put it this way "If you can think of it, you can mostly find a podcast for yourself".
I am getting interested in this stuff more and more. Can you point me to some good ones and let me know how to go about it?
Ya sure, first make sure you have a podcatching software. Here are my recommondations
Audio podcasts – Winamp on windows, Rythmbox or Amorak on Linux
Video podcasts – iTunes on Windows, Miro on Windows as well as Linux
Next step is to choose some podcasts, my suggestion for starters is to check out Revision3, they have lots of shows that you can download and subscribe to. Or simply check out the search functionality in Miro. Once you find the podcast(s) you were looking for just click on the Add this channel button and its added. Miro will start downloading the latest episode and will automatically download whenever a new episode is released(you can change the automatic thing if you want). Now just play around, build up your taste you will surely find content that suits your need and taste. Just let us all know which are your favourite ones so that we can try them too 🙂
Oh.. and by the way its very simple to set up your own podcast too. I will have an article on that shortly.. And may be sometime in future this blog may have its own podcast too. What do you think about the idea? let me know.
Some other useful links: