Ok, so what's this podcasting thing all about? First of all, it has nothing to do fishing for aliens in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It actually has to do with iPods or other portable digital music players, usually known as mp3 players, although they can usually play other formats as well. Remember radio? From the listener's perspective, the annoying thing about radio is that once the show you want to listen to has aired, it's gone. No reruns or anything, usually. From the potential broadcaster's point of view, the main annoyance of radio is that it's expensive to broadcast and the limited broadcast spectra are regulated. How to solve these problems?
Of course, the Internet has a solution for both and it's podcasting. Basically, podcasting is radio in mp3 (or other digital) format. So, a regular radio show could make available mp3's of its shows and you could download them and listen to them whenever you want, either on your computer or portable device. Similarly, since it's just an mp3, the hardware and software requirements to create a reasonably professional sounding show are quite basic. Voila! Your own radio show.
Now, mix in rss and you have a simple way to notify interested listeners that the new show is ready to be downloaded. As well, there is also software that'll automatically download the new shows for you so you can transfer them to your device. All this is nicely summarized in a recent LISNews post, with links to all the various bits of software. My favourite directory site is Podcast Alley; I also use Bloglines to manage the podcast feeds. It doesn't download automatically (or if it does I haven't figured it out yet) but I like using one application to manage all my feeds.
Now, what podcasts would a science librarian want to listen to?
- Science@NASA has a cool little show, with the rss feed here.
- The CBC is doing a pilot project podcasting two of their shows, Quirks and Quarks and /Nerd. /Nerd's Todd Maffin has a little podcast where he explains the pilot.
- I also quite like the SF podcast from Dragonpage called Cover-to-Cover. The feed for all their shows is here.
- SciFi.com has a SciFi Wire podcast, with the feed here.
- Chess.fm doesn't really do podcasts, but they have really cool flash lectures.