What’s this podcasting malarky?

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It’s funny but over the last few weeks I had been having to really think about what to write on this blog but lately ideas really have been coming from unlikely sources. Much like my post the other day on photograph sharpening, this post also comes from questions I have been asked by my family and friends about websites and website design. Now, granted not everything they ask me will lead to a post (“What’s this story your brother was alluding to involving baked beans, Saturday night and wine?” for example) but I thought it was worth keeping a note of these enquiries and storing them up for future brain freeze blog moments.

So, last night’s question brought to you by Mr Foster Snr (who has developed an unhealthy and anti-social obsession with listening to his new ipod) is;

“So, what’s this podcasting you were talking about…can I use it on my new toy?”

What is podcasting?
Podcasting comes from two words – ipod and broadcasting (which, to be fair, is probably enough information for you to guess the rest but this would be a very short post if I stopped there) Much as it sounds like something the Teletubbies might get up to it actually refers to making an audio or video file available over the web as and when they become available by way of a subscription to a RSS feed.

How to listen to a podcast.
Podcasts are updated every time you make a connection to the internet. What you need is an aggregator such as itunes, a subscription to a feed and a device to play it on (computer, ipod etc). Assuming you have already obtained itunes the next step is simple. Go to the itunes store, clcik on the link for podcasts on the left and surf through the many podcasts available (many of which are free). Click on the ‘subscribe’ option and that’s it.

My personal favourite is Diggnation – a geekfest of childish humour and industry news all in one fun-filled-drunken podcast. I love it because it proves in no uncertain terms that geeks CAN have fun (and in the case of Kevin Rose, be pretty cute to-boot!)

Who uses Podcasts?
Podcasts are available from every sector you can imagine. From business to news to entertainment, music and marketing….the list is endless. Probably the most up and coming area is use in Universities where they can be used to deliver course work to students.

The scope for podcasting is huge which is what makes it great. It’s not elitist or restricted to only professional productions, anyone can do it…and they do. It’s a modern day soap box and everyone can have their voice heard.

The future…
So how will podcasting be involved in the future? Obviously we have no definitive answers but being avid readers we like to wonder whether podcasting will be the real 1984, maybe this is more what Georgie-boy had in mind? Will we be one day sitting at home earning a degree, keeping up with the news, hell, even going to church all from home without ever physically having to leave the house or make human contact? With everyone and his dog podcasting, will we no longer know what is fact and what is just the speculation of someone with a microphone?

“If all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. “

Whichever way podcasting develops I think it is safe to say it’s here to stay. With better and better equipment coming out and the continual development of mobile devices podcasting will become accessible to more and more people. Who knows, one day dear old Mr Foster could be podcasting it around the world, happy as Larry and keeping up with current affairs all from the the SAGA bus.

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