Odds are you’ve heard the term “podcasting.” It was even selected by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary as the Word of the Year for 2005. But what exactly is it?
In its simplest terms, podcasting is a method of publishing audio files to the Internet, which can then be automatically downloaded to a computer, iPod, MP3 player or other portable media device. For anyone who loves listening to the wide variety of internet audio programming, but can't always find the time to listen to their favorite shows when they're scheduled or take the time to download them manually, podcasting is the solution. It allows you to listen to your favorite content, at your convenience.
According to research from The Diffusion Group, 11.4 million listeners are expected to download a podcast this year, climbing to almost 75 million by 2010. Apple’s iTunes already offers 15,000 podcasts and listeners have signed up for more than 7 million subscriptions. So what’s the reason for this rapid adoption? Because podcasting gives people more control over what they listen to, when they want to and the freedom to take their programs out and about with them.
But podcasting is more than just TiVo for Internet Radio. Individuals are taking an increasingly active role in creating their online lives and, as a result, generate the majority of content found on the Internet. Combined with human nature to form groups, share information and advance personal agendas through interaction with others, podcasting represents a significant shift in the way we communicate, receive and discover information.
Anyone can create a podcast and, regardless of the topic, find an online audience that shares the same interest and will subscribe to the feed, or “show,” to automatically receive new episodes. But podcasting is more than having this 15 minutes of fame. Educators are using podcasts to interact with their students. Terrestrial radio is using it to regain listeners. It’s even changing the way media covers and distributes news and entertainment, advertisers target pitches at consumers and companies design and sell their products and services.
For a technology that’s been around less than two years, the future certainly looks bright for podcasting. It has already evolved beyond simple time-shifting of Internet audio into the new medium for creating, finding and sharing content created by individuals for individuals sharing similar interests. In other words, podcasting is connecting people to people, in the growing content-on-demand World.