video killed the radio star – part two

Poscasting is taking the world by storm. The release of iTunes version 4.9 has exploded the format, for good or bad. This is the next evolution of mass communication among ordinary folks.

What is Podcasting? It’s kind of like time-shifted internet radio. A whole bunch of people are basically taking advantage of the capabilities of RSS and using it to distribute audio content.

Why should I care? Well, what you are reading right now is a blog. (Duh, Ted. I’m not stupid) A podcast is an extension of the blog format. People create the content (an interview, some music, some ranting, whatever), post it on the internet, and other people either go to the site directly or get the feed from an RSS reader. I think this is really important and I’ll explain a little bit about why.

We are seeing an increase in the number and influence of blogs on the political process. During the 2004 major party conventions, bloggers were given press credentials. They were recognized at that point as being part of the media. Part of the information exchange that influences the way the world works and how we are governed. In Northfield, several people who are either elected officials or in influential positions in government or commerce are also blogging. You can see this by starting with and continue with Jim Pokorney, Jessica Peterson, Gary Smith, Diane Cirksena and Ray Cox. And these aren’t the only examples.

So we now have a fairly easy way (or the beginnings of an easy way) to expand that community journalism concept into a digital version of community radio. What’s community radio? Well, let’s just say it’s a chance for anyone to broadcast pretty much whatever they want. You’re interested in city politics? Start your own podcast and interview local figures and local folks about the issues. And even more significantly – say what you think about them. Have a need for speed at the local stock car racetrack? Tell everybody about what’s going on each weekend and make your favorite drivers and crews feel like the “big guys” by interviewing and promoting them on your own show.

I would encourage anyone to check out the available podcasts that are out there. Many of them provide a nice alternative to the standard mass-media radio and often do a better job of informing on issues like technology and local politics.

Here’s a couple sites to get you started. The easiest way to get started listening to podcasts right now is to get iTunes from Apple. There are versions for both PC and Mac, and a lot of people already have it. You will need version 4.9 or later to get the podcast page in the iTunes Store. Another “podcatcher” that is popular is ipodder lemon. Heard of Adam Curry? The old MTV v-jay has been on the bandwagon for podcasting since the beginning and is involved in the ipodder project.

There is a huge amount of dicussion about this topic and how it relates to blogging, commercial radio, music promotion and licensing, community radio, politics, marketing and a bunch of other stuff. But, in the interest of keeping it simple I’ll just say that I think this new medium is pretty interesting and I am really enjoying it.

Here’s a partial list of podcasts that I’ve been listening to:

TWiT – This Week in Tech (this is the crew from the old ScreenSavers show on TechTV)
Daily Source Code – Adam Curry
Podcast 411 – Information on podcasting and interviews with podcasters
Geek News Central – Tech news and commentary from Todd in sunny Hawaii
Inside Minnesota Politics – Peter Idusogie (an unabashed Democrat, but he does some interesting interviews)