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Jason Holliston
Wednesday, August 17, 2005  
The World of Podcasts

I know this is old hat to many of the readers of this blog, but it was just a couple days ago that I got around to checking out this whole podcast thing and seeing if it's worth half of the buzz that the concept has been generating. I work in the software industry, and keeping up on my blogs is usually relegated to lunch (when I'm in), breaks, and the times where I'm doing something that allows me to multi-task. Suffice to say, I'm not able to fully absorb all the information in the 40 or so blogs that currently grace my RSS reader. Instapundit alone would take more time than I have free, if I were to actually follow each link and read the target text (how exactly does Glenn do it?).

Podcasts are different, though. It's essentially personalized radio, and like many people listen to the radio at work in the background without affecting their productivity, you can do the same here. Thanks to Apple iTunes, finding some podcasts that might be of interest to you is pretty easy. You simply go to the iTunes Music Store, click on the Podcasts link, and start browsing until you find something easy. Click on the podcast link, then click Subscribe. The episode (a simple MP3 file) downloads, and you can play and listen to it. It really couldn't be simpler.

I was surprised by the quality of some of the podcasts I downloaded. Here's a quick run down of some of the 'casts I would recommend:

  • Universe Today, a show about astronomy and general space science
  • This Week in Tech, a tech talk show with top industry analyst headliners
  • Ebert & Roeper, a weekly show reviewing the weekend's upcoming movie releases
  • President's Weekly Radio Address, which is self-explanatory, I would think
  • Battlestar Galactica, a running commentary about the best show on television today by it's creator
There's really something for just about anyone. You a serious Catholic? There's many podcasts for you. Really into Harry Potter? Ditto. These are all either commercial radio quality, or specialized (like the last example in the list above) to the point where it would never get broad radio play. One of the best parts about this whole deal: they're free.

I'm not sure if this concept will hang on for any serious period of time, or morph into something more groundbreaking and broad-based. I'd guess it'll be the later. At the least, though, this is an important step along the way to using the Internet and modern technology to detour around the gatekeepers of the media world.

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