Friday, March 6, 2009

#21. The Wide World of Podcasts

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS. Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minutes commentaries, to much longer in-person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don’t have to have an iPod or an MP3 player to access them.

Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a computer with headphones or speakers. iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts. But if you don’t have iTunes installed, there are still plenty of options. For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once you find an interesting one, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your Bloglines so that when new casts become available, you’ll be automatically notified of their existence.

Discovery Resources:

To find out more about podcasts start with the BBC Podcast Tutorial.

There are many, many podcast directories and finding tools out there. Here are just two of the more popular ones that, unlike iTunes, don't require a software download:

Discovery Exercise:

Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting, library-related podcasts like book review podcasts or library news.

Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your Bloglines account.

Create a blog post about your discovery process.