An introduction to Podcasting

Podcasting as a phenomenon has sky rocketed from something that geeks did a year ago to mainstream. A google search yields 124 million hits—putting it at par with it’s sister phenomenon “blogging”. In fact, podcasting in many cases is used exactly for that purpose…audio/video blogging. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Podcasting uses the same technology that most bloggers use to get exposure—RSS. RSS or “Rich Site Summary/Real Simple Syndication”(choose your poison) is essentially used to broadcast the blogging contents. The RSS is versatile enough to accommodate image, data, video or audio files. Essentially podcasting is an audio file in the RSS feed's enclosure tag. The RSS version 2.0 supports the current Podcasting specifications and is the widely used format.
The podcast audience gets the latest stuff of their interest on their media player. It’s time shifted and place shifted, so they can listen to it at the time and place of their choice. This beat radio and even streaming radio. The technology works with all contents-music as well as audio blogs. It’s the latter use which has garnered the most interest.
In general, the entry fee for the podcasting is low. All one needs is a decent quality microphone to ensure quality recording. Of course, one can get fancy, with audio editing software, sound effects, and such, but ultimately if the content is interesting/useful one can build a loyal audience. Think Craig’s list Vs. the-fancy-shmancy-flash-site.

So why bother with podcasting? Taking the blogging analogy further, the podcasters are a pioneering bunch. The main stream talk radio shows have not got into the act just yet, just like the main stream media does not use the blogging format(as much as it should)—leaving the field open for podcasting enthusiasts. While a lot of content may not be polished, some of us are looking for “Reality” version of things. The anonymous blogger writing from her basement can(and sometimes does) command a loyal readership that would make the editor of New York Times blanch. Similarly, the podcaster can have an audience rivaling political commentators and MTV DJ’s. It’s all about the value the podcaster provides to the audience. The meritocracy of internet ensures that only the cream rises to the top.
What is required to Publish Podcasts(Podcaster).
Some simple steps and you are on your way to be a podcaster:
1. Record your audio content in a file and post it to your website.
2. Generate an RSS feed containing a link to the audio file in the enclosure field of a RSS 2.0 compliant feed.
3. You are ready to promote your music/thoughts/ideas to the rest of the world.
What is required to listen to Podcasts (Podcastee):
Three simple steps for web surfers to listen to podcasts:
1. Download a News aggregator or RSS reader which is RSS 2.0 compliant. If you are blessed with an IPod or similar device, even that may not be necessary.
2. Insert the URL of the podcast feed into the news aggregator or podcast management software.
3. When new items appear in the category of your interest, you can analyze the narrative and listen to what you really find interesting.
Podcasting as a field is new enough that it’s still not that difficult to get exposure. A microphone, some diskspace on a server and talent is all you need to get going. Unfortunately the exponential growth of the medium and potential for marketing and advertisement ensures that the cacophony of spam may drown your podcasts. Now is the time to create that loyal audience. Happy podcasting!