If you haven't heard of podcasting yet, I am not surprised. It's a brand new term—just invented last year, in fact, by Ben Hammersley in an article for The Guardian newspaper.
Podcasting refers to the technology used to pull digital audio files from Web sites down to computers and devices such as MP3 players. "Podcast" is derived from the name of the iPod MP3 player from Apple, although you don't need an iPod to partake in podcasts.
Podcasting is a significant departure from traditional broadcasting because it removes the time requirement; you can listen to a podcast radio program or interview any time.
Think what audio books on tape did for the road warrior—turning our cars and airplane seats into mobile universities. Podcasting has the same capacity to change the way we learn and take in new information.
With news sites and blogs, you are anchored to your seat or computer screen to partake in the wisdom of your favorite blogger or journalist. For those sites that are also podcasting, you now have an alternative.
Podcasting isn't just about downloading MP3 files. What makes it special is that it piggybacks on RSS technology, also known as Really Simple Syndication. Some Web site owners (including MarketingProfs.com), feature their most recently published content in XML files called "RSS feeds." Software programs called newsreaders that are installed on Internet users' PCs continuously monitor their favorite RSS feeds for new content.
From this evolved specialized newsreaders capable of accepting "enclosures"—multimedia files included in the RSS feed—and downloading them to an MP3 player or a hard drive (iPodder is one example). A user of this software can be presented with new podcasts of interest collected via RSS feed in a way similar to how he would follow the latest happenings on a blog through a traditional RSS reader.
Newly available MP3 audio files that appear in a subscribed RSS feed can be downloaded to your MP3 player, burned to a CD for playback on your car's CD player or simply listened to through your computer's speakers.