Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Path to Podcasting

Podcasting is not just the next buzzword, it's the logical evolution of what people listen to, and how they listen to it. I've been a raging zealot for podcasting ever since I heard about it last year sometime. Now that podcasts are right there in iTunes, anybody with an ipod is potential audience.

Here's the sales pitch I've been using:

Ok, here's how it happens. You tell me where you're at. You get a new ipod. The first thing you do is rip all your cds. Check. Now you create some funky playlists, because you can. Workout music, mellow music, whatever you want. Next you burn some cds with those remixes. Maybe give some to friends who haven't gotten the religion yet.

That was fun. What else can it do? Aha, you find the Music Store. Now you can buy songs one at a time. That's pretty cool. Feels a bit more legal than just finding them on the P2P networks. So you buy some songs. Eventually you start looking for ideas for new things you might like, instead of always searching for songs you already knew.

Eventually, especially if you're listening to your ipod for any long stretch of time (like the morning commute), you get bored with the music and want something more...productive? Audio books, you say! Great idea. Pick up Harry Potter, or the Da Vinci Code. On CD. Realize that a new book on CD runs a good $35-$50. Put it back down. It's a great idea, I've done it, and it gives you lots of content to listen to for a long time. But it's not the sort of thing you want to make a hobby. You going to buy a few audio books every month at that price? And the worst part is the price basically never goes down. Hardcovers turn paperback, and before you know it you can get the original $25 book for $5. But that audio book is always $35 or more. Annoying.

So you're bored with music and starved for some "content".

Welcome to podcasting.

Pick your topic. You like sports? How about ESPN on your ipod? Maybe you prefer news. Take your pick of sources -- CNN, ABC, NPR, Newsweek... which spin is your favorite? There's also plenty of talk shows that are not bound by the FCC (in other words not safe for little ears, although many are also family friendly). How about full fledged audio books? A number of projects out there are podcasting full length novels. So much for that $35 Harry Potter!

The greatest thing about podcasting that you probably don't yet realize is that you're subscribing to a feed of new content. It's not just going to the ABC site and downloading the MP3 of today's news. It's linking in and saying "Whenever new stuff is available, just go ahead and put it on my ipod." You can do this with as many sources as you want. Your choice. iTunes and your ipod are smart enough to get all the new content and put it on the player for you when you sync. It doesn't matter if new content comes out every day, every couple of days, or every couple of weeks. It's not up to you to go and get it. The computer's going to do all that for you.

So go into the Music Store and hit that Podcast button. Sign up for some stuff. Then sync your ipod and take it with you to your workout or your drive to work or wherever. Instant content. As much as you want. On any topic you want. All free, all the time.

Not bad, huh?

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