Web 2.0 exchange -- Podcasting and ipods

--- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Karadjis"  wrote:!! You're not "IT literate"! Yet you know how to do something called "podcasts"  (what does an "iPod" do by the way, and do I need one?)


I was referring to the fact that the only script I can write is HTML -- I can't handle Java or RSS --and all this new stuff rests on a new approach to the script one would use to create web pages.

But since you ask -- and I wing it by getting to know only what I have to know to get by-- I'll share a couple of definitions from my POV.


Not a very good term in way of offering self evident meaning. It is more correct to call a podcast, an "audio blog" and podcasting, "audioblogging."

A blog or weblog, is a website where regular entries are made (such as in a journal or diary) and presented in reverse chronological order. Life of Riley is a blog for isntance:

Just over two years back Dave Winer  and Adam Curry discovered a way to enclose audio files -- that's files usually in Mp3 format -- into a blog so that they can be read as part of a form of script known as RSS. [See History of Podcasting]

RSS is a family of web feed formats which enable you to syndicate content. Green Left Weekly has a RSS feed as do all blogs. Even this forum offers a RSS feed -- that's the meaning of the logo on the bottom left of this discussion group's web pages. Click it and you get http://rss.groups.yahoo.com/group/GreenLeft_discussion/rss

It means not a thing to us mortals except it enable  that those who subscribe to it to read each post in order without downloading them to their desktop or going to the group's web pages to review the list's content.

Take a look at this Web 2.0 site as an example of feed aggregation:


And what these feeds offer is a way to subscribe to content as an alternative to receiving them as email. These feeds are 'read' in programs called newsreaders or aggregators --such that on my desktop I subscribe to something like 100 feeds -- GLW as well as a few daily newspapers, various blogs, Granma, several discussion lists,the
British Socialist Worker, etc. There are millions of RSS feeds out there on the web and it becomes annoying when you comes to a site that won't offer RSS to read or subscribe to.

A PODCAST is basically a feed that includes audio (and sometimes video) content. To read, receive and download such audio (or video) you use a program called a podcatcher. iTunes is a free podcatcher program (as well as a media player). My favorite podcatcher program is FireAnt. That's the one I recommend even though it was originally designed to 'capture' video content (yes, that's right FireAnt rightly calls itself "better than television"). Video podcasting, by the way, is called "vlogging".

One of the most popular vlogs at the moment is the TV series LOST which has to be purchased before download from iTunes -- but thats' what thousands are doing.

Now if I subscribe to , say, the Ratbag Radio podcast, every episode of RR would be downloaded automatically to my computer as they become available. I can subscribe to thousands of podcasts that way such as most of the programs on ABC Radio National. For instance, every weekday I receive the US progressive news show Democracy Now!
downloaded automatically to my computer ready to be listened to at my convenience.

Estimates suggest that at the moment there are about 40,000 podcasts (after two years of existence as a technology) in the world and these numbers are growing at the rate of 15% increments each month. Locally the ABC radio started podcasting in late 2004 and the BBC has just committed itself to the format...as has the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

I could , of course, go to each program's web site and click each episode to play but that way I would have to wait until it downloads and I may be demanding a lot of the computers' capacity when I force it to share with my other IT activities. What podcatchers offer you is a way to download audio content whenever you choose-- either in the background while you are working on some other program or late at night when it's cheaper to utilise bandwidth. My program automatically downloads at 3am as required when new content is available.[You'll note that this would not suit a dial up connection.] [See Podcasting reference]


An iPod is a portable Mp3 player made by Apple. On it you can play all your music that is converted to, downloaded as or purchased in Mp3 format. But an iPod like all Mp3 players can also play podcasts and a podcast is a Mp3 file just like the latest release from your favourite rock or hip hop band.

While iPod are the most well known and most marketed and hyped Mp3 player -- you don't need one to listen to podcasts. You can listen to podcasts at your computer. But if you wanted to take your audio with you to listen to while commuting, walking the dog or washing the dishes (you can even get waterproof ones to swim with!) -- then you'd employ a portable Mp3 player. A portable Mp3 player is like a transister radio married to a Walkman -- but much smaller -- often not much bigger than a matchbox. Your audio is totally portable and you need only now and then return to your computer to fill your player up with new content. Depending on their capacity most Mp3 players will carry many hours of music or many hours of podcast programs. My daughter has a iRiver T10 and that holds over  1000 songs .

There are lots of other Mp3 players on the market and the trick is to get one cheaper than iPod (and that's very easy to do as iPod are the dearest!) and one that will also do something else that may be useful -- like also offering you a recording option either with a good inbuilt microphone or with the capacity to plug an extension mic into the device. Of these the best multifunctional Mp3 player is the iRiver ifp 700 series. The ifp is a favorite among podcasters.

Thats' what I record on. I can record any audio on my iRiver -- public talks, interviews, sound tours, phone call interviews..I can record from radio, I can record from tape decks, etc

And since anything I record is recorded to a Mp3 format I can upload that file to my computer (edit it if I want) and send it off anywhere attached to an email or publish it on the web for anyone to access either as a standalone item of audio or part of a podcast feed.

With web based interfaces like ODEO all you need to create a podcast is a microphone you can plug into your computer. Go give it a try. Use my commentary option(also below  this post):


and give me the time of day. You have an hour of recording time to waffle on or read out your shopping list.

For instance what's recorded by the GLW correspondents in Caracas I can have edited, formatted, and published on the web in less than an hour or two of it being recorded and emailed. If their recording hardware collapses (they're using an iRiver T10 I think) or whatever, they can still send me audio reports using the Odeo interface.

I've got more information about this DIY here:

I've also set up some forums to share information as it comes to hand. I do this as I've been very evangelical on this topic as I'm keen to get the left to respond to it and take it up.

What this capacity means is that any exchange -- workshop, talk, report, etc -- that we lefties are prone to engage in, can be recorded and easily shared by exploiting this technology.

But I think the core essential potential being offered by this Web 2.0 dynamic (such as with RSS syndication)is the capacity for anyone to run their own radio station or for anyone to run their own television channel or publish/blog their own magazine. That's the real power. And ANYONE can do this so easily.

In my case, aside from whatever I've spent on hardware -- like my Mp3 player (and these are now less than $100 to buy but microphones vary a lot in price)-- I don't outlay a dollar. I utilise programs that are offered for free on the web and store my output on free upload servers -- like Odeo or Our Media.

Of course I pay for my broadband access to the web but even with limited access capacity now there's a lot of use being made of BitTorrent technology which is faster and much less demanding of individual bandwidth.(But I see where Sweden at least have just made that illegal. The major bugbear with BitTorrent, as far as the corps are concerned, is that it enables people to easily and quickly download whole feature movies.)

But getting back to your questions, I'd like to rephrase the last so: Does Michael Karadjis need to buy a Mp3 player?

Many mobile phones are offering this capacity now and you can get Mp3 player plug ins for your car audio. But a true Mp3 player device is a wonderful machine that can open up so much in the way of exploring new audio content while you are engaged in the most mundane of tasks. It revives and transcends radio. It also means that this generation of young people will be getting so much of their music as download. In my house, for instance, we already have four Mp3 players--and the cheapest arrived at about $40. The other non audio advantage of Mp3 players is that as USB devices (which means they plug into one of the flat holes on your computer) you can store and transport any computer content in them besides audio.So transporting any files from computer to computer can also be done with most Mp3 players. You won't need floppy disks. My son uses his to carry his homework to and from school and gets a dose of heavy metal en route.

Elsewhere, with podcasting in education, universities are building whole courses around Mp3 recorder players as an substitute to note taking, and real time lectures. In some courses students are being asked to deliver their assignment as audio. At one campus in the US all Ist year enrollees are given iPods and their course work is being structured accordingly.

There in Sydney, NSWTafe is running a ongoing series of courses to equip TAFE teachers with podcasting and Web 2.0 know how as the core of a preferred future teaching protocol.

Despite my discourse, in reality the only way to understand this stuff is to get a podcatcher program and start subscribing to podcasts. After that you may decide to purchase a portable Mp3 player.

If you are interested in creating your own podcasts -- get yourself a microphone and start recording same at Odeo.


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