May 22, 2008

Podcasts are basically audio files that can be subscribed to. That’s the big thing about them. Any old person could post an audio or video file to a blog, but podcasts (and vodcasts) are specifically those types of files that can be subscribed to directly. Social Media World has a good video about what podcasts are.

I also found an article called Seven Ways that Print Media is Like Podcasting. Not only does it point out why it is similar to print media, but it also points out the faults of television and radio that make a podcast so popular, such as the inability to listen to a radio show whenever you want. In that way, it would make sense for a radio broadcaster to put their show in podcast format so it would be accessible to a broader range of people.

One interesting thing is that many people in traditional media are embracing podcast technology. Because of the ability to subscribe to a podcast, many radio broadcasters use podcasts to supplement their shows and give their listeners the ability to easily keep track of new episodes.

Podcasts are useful partially because they are entertaining. I used to subscribe to a few that were connected to this one site. They not only used it as a blogging tool, using it to give updates on the site, but they also had interviews with people involved in that field. One of those involved fan fiction, so they often had people who maintained blogs on either the fandom or grammar, people who were popular writers, or they had people who were actually involved in the subject, such as editors or artists. One of them had people send in emails and their own audio files, which they either read or played back in the podcast. Basically, it was really good advertising.

(What I didn’t understand was why one of those sites set up a separate RSS feed for their podcast. I’m not talking about the subscription to the actual podcast; these guys had a separate page with all their past podcasts on the site, and that page had an RSS feed. If you clicked on the link in the feed, it would link you to another link, which would send you to the podcast. Could someone explain why they would do this? It just seems so redundant. I would think the feed for the podcast would be plenty and they wouldn’t have to include a separate feed.)

They are also useful because it releases some of the limits that limit solely text-based information. This is felt even moreso with vodcasts. Take, for example, a music blog. Instead of them linking the mp3 files directly into a text-based post, they could have a podcast with either clips or the whole songs that they wanted to show people. That way, all the music is in one place, and the consumer would be able to just download the one file to listen to.

I can think of a specific example of where a vodcast would be very, very useful. If they didn’t actually set this up (and if they had, then I really need to work on my observational skills), then they need their heads examined. I know it’s on YouTube and I could have just subscribed to the author, but that’s a bit different. Anyway, it’s this one show on Youtube called “The Guild”. It’s basically about the trials and tribulations of this one guild in World of Warcraft. If it were in vodcast form, I could have monitored their updates that much more closely. This obviously works with many other webisodes, including Ashen’s work (he reviews old, terrible consoles as well as cheap Chinese knockoffs) on YouTube (he has his own site, but I tend to just pay attention to what he puts on YouTube instead of his site, so he could have a vodcast that I don’t know about).

Screencasting, capturing a video of what is happening on screen, is good for those whose blog keeps track of new software. It helps show the features in real time, and can be subscribed to just like a vodcast.