What is now called a podcast traces its orgins to the

first ipod podcasts, the creation of distributed mp3 files

that could be downloaded and played on Apple’s music

player, the iPod. When the iPod came out, and users

discovered what a wonderful thing it was for holding

music, some people had the idea of loading things that

weren’t necessarily songs. Some of the people that got

their hands on the iPod took the route of reverse

engineering the iPod and loading on different firmware,

or operating system, but others had the idea of sharing

small sound files that could be played on the iPod. The

technology for distributing the files already existed,

with RSS feeds. RSS feeds were a means of generating

machine readable files that could share information

between a server and a user. Many blogs already used

them to keep readers up to date with the latest posts, but

some hopeful podcasters had the idea of enclosing links

to sound files within the RSS feed and downloading the

file to the computer.

With the change in RSS feeds, ipod podcast took off,

and podcasting became a popular way to share files.

Users saw podcasting as a way to become radio hosts,

or dj’s, and a variety of podcasts began popping up.

Software was written to automatically check the RSS

feeds, extract the links to the podcast episodes, and

download the files. These programs became known as

podcast clients.

By this time, podcasting had moved beyond the ipod,

and they were not simply making an ipod podcast

anymore. Some people had figured out how to use even

the PlayStation Portable gaming console as a podcast

player. It was more difficult that downloading podcasts

to the ipod, since the PSP used a different format for it’s

files, but PSP podcasts began popping up. In addition,

podcasting made inroads to the wider audience of

people without iPods, who simply saw podcasting as an

extremely convenient way to receive news, music, and

entertainment over the internet.

Today, while the iPod podcast type still exists, fewer

people subscribe to podcasts as a way of gaining

portable media files they can listen to anywhere.

Although that is still an attractive part of podcasting, it

seems to be eclipsed by the ease with which podcasting

has become a content delivery system. Now, podcasting

has become tied up with the rising number of audio and

video blogs, where blogging is done not by post, but

through media files uploaded to the blog. These blogs,

and podcasting in general, take advantage of the

shrinking cost of broadband internet connections, and

the rising number of people with high speed access to

offer a picture of the internet rich with multimedia files.

Joshua Shoemaker


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