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Podcasting is the so-called syndicated publishing or distribution of audio or video programmes on the Internet. Podcasts are in MP3, MPEG or a similar file format. Podcast producers make their programmes available with RSS feeds, a tool that allows listeners to select programmes they wish to download, or to set software to automatically download new programmes as they become available.
Podcasting for listeners
Listening to podcasts is easy and enjoyable. You can listen to any topic, at any time of the morning, day, or night, 24/7. But to listen to a podcast, you need to be able to find them. Locating podcasts by relevant topics is done through Podcast Directories.
Podcasting for producers
Hardware and Software Set-Up
The centerpiece of any podcasting setup is the computer. It is used, generally, for both the production and distribution of the show.
The computer does not need to be tremendously powerful, but it must have a microphone (for the recording of the show) and internet access (for its distribution). Advanced podcasters generally opt for two condenser microphones (for in-studio interviews), and may have other microphones for recording of instrumentation and possibly for field recording (such as location interviews).
The issue of software is more complicated than that of hardware. The following items are common:
- An audio editing program (such as Apple's GarageBand, Adobe's Audition or Audacity, an open-source program) to receive input from microphones and other sources and to actually produce the show.
- A VoIP program (such as GizmoProject or Skype). GizmoProject is the generally preferred program for recording remote interviews as it includes an integrated recording function in the program. GizmoProject allows conversations to be recorded between the presenter and any telephone in the world.
Several websites can create and publish RSS feeds, either free, for a fee, or paid for by advertising. However, creating a feed is not complicated. Below is an example feed.
- Text coloured grey is required, does not need to be modified and can be ignored - you do not need to understand why it's there so we won't complicate things.
- Text coloured red is an explanation of the feed and should not be included in an actual feed.
- Text coloured blue should be replaced with your own data.
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">
This section is the header, it includes information about you, and your website or series. This section should only appear in the feed once.
<title>The title of your series</title>
<link>A link to your homepage or programme index</link>
<description>A description of your series</description>
<language>Language code. This is a two or four letter code based on ISO 639, e.g. en-us, en-gb or fr (see list of ISO 639 codes)</language>
<copyright>Optional: Copyright info, e.g. author and year or license (such as GNU Free Documentation License)</copyright>
<lastBuildDate>Date of the last update</lastBuildDate>
<webMaster>Optional: admin contact</webMaster>
The section that follows, between <item> and </item>, specifies a single programme. You could choose to modify it every time you make a new programme, but this will mean that new subscribers will only be able to download the latest episode, and if somebody isn't quick enough they may miss an episode. Creating a new item section will keep an archive of episodes available and avoid this problem. Newer episodes should be placed above older episodes in the file. There is no theoretical limit to the number of episodes you can list, though many podcasters choose only to list a handful of recent episodes.
<title>Title of the programme</title>
<description>Description of the episode, e.g. contents. This can be as long as you like.</description>
<pubDate>Recording or publishing date.</pubDate>
<enclosure url="path to the recording" length="file size in bytes - this should be digits only" type="audio/mpeg" />
Studying an RSS file, such as the Spoken Wikipedia RSS file may help in understanding the workings and other optional fields.
Example RSS feed
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"> <channel> <title>Example blog podcast</title> <link>http://www.example.com/blog/</link> <description>An example website</description> <language>en</language> <copyright>None</copyright> <lastBuildDate>Thu, 21 Dec 2000 16:01:07 +0200</lastBuildDate> <webMaster>email@example.com</webMaster> <item> <title>Example news</title> <description>This episode features an example sound file.</description> <pubDate>Thu, 21 Dec 2000 16:01:07 +0200</pubDate> <enclosure url="http://www.example.com/podcast1.mp3" length="18001" type="audio/mpeg" /> </item> </channel> </rss>
- The Guide to Free Podcasting How to podcast using free tools explained.
- Guide to Podcasting for windows Users Using Free/Libre and open source software.
- Apple's "tech specs" for podcasting with iTunes
- Directory of Podcasts
- Apple's Fall 2005 Podcast Creation Guide
- Podcasting at Wikiversity
- PoducateMe Podcasting Guide