Podcasts: the next generation
Podcasts and vidcasts are audio and video shows available over the internet. Not to be confused with internet radio, podcasts aren't live or broadcast. They are downloadable content-on-demand, perfect for listening to or watching on an iPod or other audio/video device.
Podcasts (vidcasts are the video equivalent of the podcast) are usually episodic shows varying in length. They range in subject from music to politics, technology to comedy. You name it, there is a podcast on it. A big attraction of podcasting is that both amateurs and professionals can do it, so the variety of opinions expressed is wide and the content uncensored. Most podcasts are free to download but, as British comedian Ricky Gervais proved with a series of podcasts for the Guardian newspaper's website, there is a huge market for pay-per-download podcasts as well.
Podcasts are easy to find if you know where to look. There are several podcast aggregation tools (basically catalogues) available as software or through websites. Apple's audio and video player, iTunes, is not just an aggregator but also a great audio/video player and organiser. iTunes is free to download for both Mac and PC from the Apple website. The latest versions of iTunes include a podcast tool or "directory". Once installed and running on your computer, iTunes has a podcast menu that links to its podcast directory, where you can search for specific podcasts or look at the suggested and top podcasts featured each day. Once you subscribe to a podcast, iTunes automatically scans for new episodes and downloads them onto your computer's hard drive.
iPodder is another aggregator programme, but unlike iTunes, it has no built-in audio/video player.
There are also lots of websites that act as podcast aggregators, such as www.odeo.com, Yahoo podcasts (podcasts.yahoo.com), www.msn.com and www.podcastpickle.com. It's worth trying out a few different aggregators to see which you prefer, as their interfaces and search engines differ.
Some podcasts to check out
Daily Source Code www.dailysourcecode.com
Adam Curry, one of the original MTV VJs in the 1980s, is known as the "Podfather" as he was one of the first ever podcasters. Adam updates the DSC nearly every day, discussing news and technology, innovations in the area of podcasting and events in his and his family's life.
This daily podcast was the first Irish-language podcast and also the first independent Irish podcast to cross over to traditional radio, with syndication on NUI Galway's college station Flirt FM. An tImeall says its mission is to serve the worldwide community of Irish-speakers and encourage the development of online networks to promote the language. Each podcast is around 15 minutes long and there are over 150 episodes.
Letter to America www.lettertoamerica.blogs.com
American Jett Loe and his compatriot Wayne (aka Ordinary American) talk at length about their experiences living in Belfast. They say their podcast is about "everything and nothing" and Jett regularly updates his weekly podcast with new subjects, guests and unusual locations. He was nominated at the recent Irish Blog Awards. Listeners who can tolerate Jett's outgoing personality become dedicated and interactive fans.
This daily video podcast highlights weird and wonderful news, rumours, products and human-interest stories circulating around the internet. Rocketboom is acclaimed as one of the earliest regular, blog-based "vidcasts". New host Joanne Colon has easily taken the reigns. The show is short and sweet, about three minutes per episode, and counts Apple CEO Steve Jobs as a fan – it was top of his playlist when he unveiled the video iPod last year.
The conversation on CultureSluts* generally revolves around new and cool goings-on in Dublin and around the world. It focuses on music, culture and technology, but no subject is taboo. The show is recorded in a different location each week, including bars and cafes around Dublin, and there are often guests on board too. The content is generally left-of-centre and off-the-cuff.
Next week: creating your own podcast
*CultureSluts is co-hosted by Jessie Ward