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Media Books Book Reviews

Podcasting 132

SFEley (Stephen Eley) writes "Todd Cochrane's Podcasting: The Do-It-Yourself Guide has been heavily pushed in the podcasting community as the first of a wave of podcasting books to be released in the next several months. All of these books will surely cover the same themes, more or less: what podcasts are, how to listen to them, and how to produce your own. The popularity of podcasting is exploding right now, with coverage in every press outlet and Apple hyping it as The Next Big Thing. It's easy to see that there will be a huge demand for these books, even if they don't do much more than state the obvious. So what about this one? Other than being the first, does it offer any compelling virtues for the would-be podcaster or listener?" Read on for Eley's answer to that question.
Podcasting: Do-It-Yourself Pirate Radio for the Masses
author Todd Cochrane
pages 281
publisher Wiley
rating 4
reviewer Stephen Eley
ISBN 0764597787
summary How to find, record, and publish podcasts

Before we can even begin to talk about the book, we ought to cover the preliminaries. If you've been living under a rock for most of 2005, you may not know that podcasting is the latest Internet publishing wave, getting most of the same hype that blogging has gotten but much faster. In its simplest form, it's just people producing audio files (talk, music, whatever) and syndicating them over an RSS feed. Listeners can then use one of several apps to automatically download them and load them onto an MP3 player. The mainstream media, feeling some embarrassment for missing the last few Web boats, has jumped on podcasting and given it, frankly, a lot more press than it probably deserves right now.

A note on the author: Todd Cochrane produces Geek News Central, a very popular tech podcast wherein he reads out news headlines and offers commentary. He also founded and manages the Tech Podcast Network, a consortium of other technology podcasts that band together for cross-promotion, content standards and advertising, and he's the main force behind the heavily advertised and sponsored Podcast Awards. It's fair to say that Cochrane has done a lot for podcasters in various ways, and although I've disagreed with him on some of the details of his projects, I respect him highly for his tremendous energy and the work he's done to make podcasting a respectable form of media.

Another note (and disclaimer) on myself: I also have my own podcast, a moderately popular one that narrates science fiction short stories. In a practical sense this makes me both a podcaster and a literary editor. Which means, in turn, that I have a sensitivity both to poor information on podcasting and poor writing.

And with all that said... I'm afraid Podcasting: The Do-It-Yourself Guide is a marginal book at best. It doesn't suck, and there's nothing horribly wrong with the information it gives, but it has two endemic problems. Cochrane's responsible for both, but I put the real blame on his editors at Wiley, who likely ignored them in their rush to get the book out before any others.

The first problem is the writing. It's possible that this bothers me more than it would others. Todd Cochrane may be an intelligent, selfless, wonderful guy -- I truly believe that he is -- but the man can't write. The entire book exhibits a rushed, forced-casual, eighth-grade English paper style that grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. Cochrane even admits this in his acknowledgments: "Early on, I made it clear to Chris [Webb], my acquisitions editor, that I was a geek/tech guy first and that he did not want to see my English grades. Even so, he assured me that I was their man, and I went to work."

Well, Chris Webb, you're a dumbass. You picked someone who admitted he couldn't write to write a book on a breakthrough technology. As a result, the book is vague, meandering, and frequently redundant, e.g.: "You will want to use this Recording Control window to control your default recording device." That phrase ("You will want to ...") crops up everywhere: the book's not only in second person, but it's a second person that tells the reader what he/she wants. The only sentence opener that appears more often is "Obviously" -- which frequently precedes a thought that is neither obvious nor related to the sentence before it.

You will also want to ignore the poor punctuation and comma splices, the frequent intersplicing of Notes and Tips paragraphs that seem indistinguishable (in both font and content) from the main text, and very often, the simple use of the wrong words. In many cases this is simply amusing: "[Dave Winer's] analogy was that it was taking longer to download the video than it was to play it." Uh, that's not an analogy, dude. In at least one case it leads to a technically incorrect statement: "The reading on the software-controlled meter in my audio-recording package showed nearly 40 dB of baseline noise," when what he really meant was a noise floor of -40 dB. Two very different things.

The other major problem is the narrow perspective. It's really Podcasting: The Do-It-Todd-Cochrane's-Way Guide. Everything in this book is about Cochrane. Every example is his own podcast, every screenshot of a Web page is his own, and he's got multiple photos of himself in various dorky situations. Any photos of other podcasters? Mur Lafferty, perhaps, or Soccergirl? You wish. I have no problem with Cochrane using himself as a starting point, but it's a very diverse field, and nobody podcasts with quite the same gear or the same techniques as anybody else. Cochrane says he spent significant time interviewing software developers for the chapters on applications, but there's no indication anywhere that he spoke to any other podcasters in writing this book. That's a huge mistake, rushed deadlines or no rushed deadlines. Not only does it reduce the book's utility, but it also makes the prose seem dreary, monotonic, and egocentric.

So there's my overview. For those who think the book may still have some use to you (and it might, if you can put up with the above) I'll break it down by section:

Part I: Listening to the Podcast Revolution This section has three chapters, and they're useless. The book begins, "Do you have specific interests? How about triathlons? I have to admit, most radio broadcasts don't deal with those kind of subjects. But that's about to change." Yeah, okay. The problem here (beyond the clumsy writing) should be obvious: if you have no idea what podcasting is, you're not interested enough to buy a book on podcasting. The first chapter, "What Is a Podcast?" has Cochrane spiraling around the subject of podcasting for twelve pages without ever giving a simple definition. Then we've got two chapters which together describe the leading software tools used to download podcasts, and tutorials for using them to subscribe to -- can you guess? -- Todd Cochrane's podcast. To be fair, it was a pretty decent overview of the major client applications at the time of the book's writing; which means it's already obsolete, as iTunes 4.9 has totally changed the landscape since then. Of course, that can't be helped. The real weakness of this section is its superfluity: if you're willing to pay $20 for a book on podcasting, it's because you want to make podcasts. Even Grandma's not going to buy this book to learn how to listen to them.

Part II: Joining the Revolution: Your Own Podcast Here's where the book starts to get genuinely interesting. The obligatory but stupid chapters on listening to podcasts are behind us; now it's all about making them. The first chapter here, "Choosing a Podcast Format," actually has little to criticize. His basic message is sound: Follow your passions; develop a show structure and follow it; and be aware of copyright issues if you're playing music. All of that is good advice, and his detailed description of his own show structure and notes is appropriate here. This is followed by a completely unnecessary chapter about computer choices, in which he shows his Windows colors and comes off a trifle condescending toward the Mac. ("In researching materials for this book, I found I could not do the reviews justice unless I had a Mac, so I purchased a Mac Mini ... I knew that if I could record a podcast on a Mac Mini, it would probably make the Mac fans happy.") Then, at last, he delivers the first truly crunchy chapter: "The Semiprofessional Podcast Studio." This chapter's honestly very good, running the gamut of sound cards, microphones, mixers, Firewire interfaces (he dismisses USB interfaces rather unfairly), digital recorders, even quiet case fans. Some of it's hand-waved, and some of it's so vague it's just silly: "A condenser microphone is generally never found in households. People might have them, but they usually are not aware that they do." On the other hand, his discussion of quality sound cards does have much of value (barring the "40dB of baseline noise" misstatement I mentioned above), and he gives one of the best descriptions of mixers and effects processors for novices that I've found. If you have no idea what sort of equipment you might need for quality sound in your podcast, you'll get a decent grounding here. Not an excellent grounding, but perhaps enough to parse a little bit more of the serious sound FAQs on the Web.

Part III: Recording Your Podcast and Performing Postproduction Tasks (Yes, the man can't even name things with brevity.) There's one weak chapter here and two great ones. In "Recording Locations," Cochrane reveals that you can podcast at home, in your car, at a restaurant, or walking around. Whee. Then we get to the actual process of recording and postproduction, and the book honestly shines. He describes step-by-step how to set up Audacity (the excellent freeware Win/Mac/Linux sound editor) to record, how to set up a typical mixer, and best of all, how to set levels properly. Levels are the bane of any audio amateur, and these half-dozen pages are gold; it's the one thing a novice podcaster is likely to turn back to and reference several times over in his first few recordings -- or ought to, anyway. His advice on noise reduction, amplifying, and normalizing is spot-on, the steps listed for MP3 encoding are simple but solid, and he even gives several good options for ID3 tagging. (A step too often overlooked by podcasters.) I could complain about a few weird digressions -- e.g., the postproduction chapter tells you how to upload to, which is an utterly bizarre thing to advise -- but they're easily ignored, and overall this section truly shines.

Part IV: Hosting and Preparing to Publish Your Podcast This section's ... okay. His chapter on hosting is mostly a treatise on how to evaluate service agreements, which is valuable enough in itself but can be overkill for someone just starting out. There are a few math exercises for estimating bandwidth -- useless when you don't know your potential audience size -- and a brief list of "podcast-friendly hosts" which is, of course, already obsolete. His coverage of publishing methods is about weblog software -- wait, scratch that, it's about MovableType. He's infatuated with MT, and devotes several pages on a step-by-step for hacking MT's code and templates to support enclosures with full-source RSS code listings, then mentions virtually offhand that Wordpress and Radio Userland support enclosures out of the box. This is another case where having multiple podcaster perspectives would have helped. Finally, we get a chapter named "The Life Breath of a Podcast: RSS 2.0 With Enclosures," just barely longer than its title, which covers how to use FeedForAll to hand-crank an RSS file if you don't have blogging software that will make one for you. It might have been a valuable chapter if he'd spent any real time explaining RSS 2.0 or enclosures.

Part V: It's Show Time A closing section that's nearly pointless, but mercifully brief. There's an entire chapter about using graphical FTP clients -- lame because anyone who's that blinking-twelve was lost back at Chapter 6. The meaty chapter is called "Feedback, Promotion, and Paying the Bills," and it has some moderately useful information and some large gaps. Feedback apparently means "have a mailing list and a voicemail line, and hang out on Skype." Okay. Promotion's about directory listings and exchanging promos with other podcasters; then he offers a long commentary on advertising and why it's a fine thing to have. Unfortunately, other than creating a media kit he has nothing much to say on how to contact and market your show to advertisers. And the final chapter of the book, "Where Do We Go From Here?" offers a few vapid musings of the sort all podcasters talk about over beer: we're going to kill mainstream radio, podcasts will band together and commercialize, all the starving children of the world will have an MP3 player ... And Yes, in his final sentences he invokes the already-tired "Podcasting Revolution" chestnut. Not much to say here, but rest assured, he says it.

So there you have it. That's the entire book. Worth buying? That depends. If you're itching to get started with podcasting, if you're an absolute beginner when it comes to sound recording, if the online resources at Podcast411 and other sites don't float your boat, and if you can't wait a few more months for books like Podcast Solutions and Podcasting for Dummies to come out ... then sure. There are at least three or four good chapters in here with information you can use. It's not all the information, and you have to take Cochrane's style and limited viewpoint with a big grain of salt, but it'll get you started. For less than twenty bucks, at least it isn't a high-risk investment.

On the other hand, if you're the bootstrapping type, or you already know most of what you're doing, then there's not much in here you can't figure out online and through experience. And if you're patient, there will be other books, and I'm almost positive they'll be better written.

You can purchase Podcasting: the Do-It-Yourself Guide from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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  • Surely the death knell of any technology is when it finds itself in print!
  • Great podcast novel (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @06:08PM (#13307943) Journal
    The very first Podcast novel (which is Unbelievably good IMO) is Earthcore by Scott Sigler and can be downloaded at: []
    • It is a good novel, but it's just concluded. Podcast Clients (or PodCatchers, if you're a buzzword junkie) download from last to first which disrupts the flow of a serialised story. Individual Short Stories, like those presented in Steve Eleys Escape Pod [] are better suited than serials. They can be presented both individually, or in a serial.

      Getting back to Earthcore; It's exciting, enthralling and free. Would I purchase the Book (which he is selling pre-orders for ATM)? Maybe, but I wouldn't read it again.

    • These things are called audio books and are quite a few years older than the word abomination "podcasting".
    • A "Podcast novel"? Oh, you mean a multi-part audiobook?

      *ahhhhhhh!!! die buzzword die! ah ah ahhhh!!!* /sam kinison

    • I loved that novel. I can also recommend the Screenwriters Podcast [] if you want to learn about how to write screenplays for TV and film.
  • I don't get it... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by spyder913 ( 448266 )
    I still don't get 'podcasting'... blogs are bad enough, but I hate talk radio so I don't think I'd be down with 'talk blogs'.

    I guess I just don't get it cause I don't have an iPod.. maybe I'm not cool enough.
    • by Saxerman ( 253676 ) *
      I still don't get 'podcasting'... blogs are bad enough, but I hate talk radio so I don't think I'd be down with 'talk blogs'.

      You might just be missing the signal from all the noise, but in general I actually agree with you. As the bar is so low, I find Sturgeon's Law quite apt in regards to both blogs and podcasts. Even worse, while the better bloggers might go back and edit their text, from the majority of my experience with podcasts I find people have no ability and/or desire to edit their creations.

      • I think, just as with blogs, podcasts have wheat and chaff - some people with the ability to orate, some who do not. I expect it will be possible to just ignore the chaff, because if there's one thing that grates, it's someone who is unable to speak without many redundant words ('like,' 'know what i'm saying',) repetition and so on. Another thing that grates is people who are unable to write, but there are still some blogs that have content and quality writing.

        Nonetheless, I spend enough time on the inter

    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

      by anagama ( 611277 )
      Yeah -- I'm with you on the ultimate boringness of blogs. There are some cool podcasts though. In about 15 minutes, I'll be walking home from work (about 5 miles, greenway half the way). I did this on Wednessday too. I figure it's a good way to lose a bit of the chub I've been building up sitting at a desk all the time.

      On Wednessday while walking around downtown during lunch, I listened to a slew of "Quirks and Quarks" segments, a CBC radio show about various science topics. Some interesting things o
  • So, I'm like riding on the bus to work/school at the Dub, and this Husky couple, like guy-guy, well they get on the bus and they're all touchy-feely, which doesn't mean anything cause I'm like from Fremont, and we're so zen we're buddha so you can never tell.

    Anyway, the next stop this girl gets on and this classic moment of iPod zen, she hands her MP3 flash stick - like we're so tech we're past watches cause you just look at your cell if you want a timecheck - anyways, so she hands the stick and the earbuds
  • Why do people wish to hear amature-hour radio? There most likely is a reason why these people aren't syndicated nationally.
    • There most likely is a reason why these people aren't syndicated nationally.

      Like not bribing the DJs?
    • Because a lot of it is *not* amature radio. There is a vast array of public radio programs that offer podcasts. It's like radio Tivo, you can subscribe to feeds for programs that you can't catch on the radio, that aren't offered in your area, or if your memory is as bad as mine that you always forget to catch on the air. Before the podcast, I would always catch the last few minutes of "On The Media" on NPR because I always forgot to turn the radio on at 4:00pm on Saturday.
    • Why would you want to listen to homogenized corporate radio where all the music sounds the same, all the announcers sound the same and all the commercials sound the same up and down the dial? And speaking of commercials... why would you want to listen to five minutes of commercials for every 10 minutes of content? I'll take the new, fresh, different amateur-hour radio any day. More choice is what it's all about.
  • Woohoo! (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Fortyseven ( 240736 )
    Let's continue to spread the usage of this riduculous term by encouraging it's usage. YES! Good idea.
  • Podcast (Score:2, Funny)

    I don't read books, where can I get the podcast?
    • I don't read books, where can I get the podcast?

      I'm sorry sir, we can't offer a free podcast of this book, but maybe you're interested in an audio book or a DRM'ed MP3 or AAC?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wanted to find something on the audio aspects of recording my podcast. I looked on Amazon and could tell from the Table of Contents of Cochrane's book that this one was lame. I think I figured out that it was rushed to print.

    Too bad for Wiley Amazon does give a "peek inside. "

    I could see it was Windows only, when we're using Macs. We got on first show out using Garage Band in less than a week from concept to delivery - and it was GOOD, if we do say so ourselves.

    Since there was no good book worth
    • I tried to listen to his podcast for about a month. All it was was "Here's what's on /. today: *reads headlines, makes stupid comment*" or "Hey, I have a surprise coming up, I can't tell you what it is, but it's amazing." And one entire episode was dedicated to the fact that he is somehow being paid to do that shit. He spent another episode reading letters from idiots praising him for his wonderful show.

      What wonderful show? It's just some asshole talking about his lame life and reading slashdot.
  • Awesome strategy (Score:3, Informative)

    by Twid ( 67847 ) on Friday August 12, 2005 @06:28PM (#13308074) Homepage
    Step 1: Start Drama [] with book author on Yahoo Groups list.

    Step 2: Submit a bitter, mean spirited, personal attack disguised as a book review to Slashdot.

    Step 3: ?????

    Step 4: Profit.

    (Disclaimer: Don't know either of them. Actually thought, based on the review, that the reviewer was writing his own podcast book and was back-channel promoting it while tearing down another book. Found the thread in the google search trying to validate this. Actually proud of reviewer for creative flaming strategy and wish I had though of that first.)

    • For what it's worth (and you can decide that for yourself) I'm not writing a book on podcasting. I wish I was, and it seems like half the people I know are, but I came in just a couple of months too late for that.

      As for "drama" -- yeah, I've argued with Todd. But there are a fair number of things I respect him for, too. And your order of events is wrong; I submitted this review before the thread you're pointing to happened. (The approval queue for book reviews is slower than the rest of Slashdot.)

  • Uh, dorky review, dude. You'd be able to write better -- in the second person or otherwise -- if you followed your own advice.
  • Do what most people want to do when they want a fucking internet radio station.

    Start a shoutcast server or icecast stream like most people and quit trying to make everything so goddamn hip and trendy.

    No need for RSS feeds just constantly stream..

    • Why was this modded a troll, its the god's honest truth. Its basically someone just wanting to be trendy and use a hip new word to impress their friends.

      Friend #1 "Hey Friend #2 check this out, Im podcasting to the people in my Quake clan"

      Friend #2 "Whats podcasting?"

      Friend #1 "It's where I record a show or me talking about random stuff and edit it and release it into a RSS feed so that people can check it from their browser and listen to me ramble on about my day in high school"

      Friend #2 "Why are you doing
      • Streaming only makes sense when you want to set up an audio STATION. When you are streaming, you need to have content running all the time. I suppose you could just stream your current show over and over, but that would be lame.

        A podcast is what you do when you want to distribute a radio SHOW. You have maybe an hour of content a week, maybe less. You record it and people listen to it when they want.
    • That isn't the point of podcasting. It isn't an attempt to duplicate radio, it is more of a way to time-shift radio. In fact, most of the podcasts that I listen to are public radio programs which happen to also be offered as podcasts. I can listen whenever I like and I get to hear programs that I otherwise wouldn't be able to.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday August 12, 2005 @06:32PM (#13308095) Homepage Journal my list of overhyped/overmarketed buzzwords.

    This page [] carries a pretty accurate and humorous description of my feelings on these overused buzzwords. To quote:

    Lately I've been hearing a lot of stupid people parroting stupid buzz words. There are too many to list all of them here, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to try. I propose that we all agree, here and now, to strike these words and phrases from our collective for the betterment of humanity, and the improvement of my blood pressure. Thank you.

    Podcast: Someone had the revolutionary idea of taking a compressed audio file and putting it online. Yeah, doesn't sound so sexy when I describe it for what it is, does it you morons? It would have been a great idea if streaming audio wasn't already around for over a decade before the word "podcast" entered the lexicon. Man, I can't stand the word "lexicon." Talking about all these shitty words has made me start using shitty words. I'm so pissed, I just slammed the door shut on some kid's nuts.

    Podcasting: It's snob for "streaming audio."

    Podcatcher: Any idiot with an iPod, web browser, or ears.

    • But that's a stupid statement. Podcasting is never streamed, and it's not just an audio file online -- a podcast is episodic in nature.

      Really, do people even bother to learn the meanings of the words they criticize?
      • Come on, he has a point - and yes, podcasts are not streamed but they are audio files online! That they're syndicated via RSS is of little consequence; you could deliver it the same with a plain vanilla web page.

            I just don't get the craze over podcasts.
          1. Find something that people have been doing on the internet for years.
          2. Syndicate it with RSS.
          3. Give it a catchy name.
        • That they're syndicated via RSS is of little consequence; you could deliver it the same with a plain vanilla web page.

          Solely "delivering" by web page would defeat the point and make it harder to get. I don't think you've actually taken the time to notice that most podcasts are also "delivered" by a plain vanilla web page, but that is beside the point.

          What RSS does is enables a person to use a program to automatically download the latest recordings from all their RSS subscriptions, automatically put it in t
          • Solely "delivering" by web page would defeat the point and make it harder to get. I don't think you've actually taken the time to notice that most podcasts are also "delivered" by a plain vanilla web page, but that is beside the point.

            I did - my brother likes podcasts a lot and usually downloads old shows from their website directly. Point is - it's still downloading audio clips from the web. RSS just automatizes the process.

            And "harder"? Come on... if you like a weekly show yo
            • Point is - it's still downloading audio clips from the web.

              Yeah, and the web is just downloading bits over TCP/IP, but it's a hell of a lot easier to use than gopher/ftp, and they were easier to use than BBSes.

              You see, we build new things on top of older technology to make it better. Then those new technologies become popular.

              At one point "the web" was a buzzword, but then it become ubiquitous, and now no one thinks of it as a buzzword.

              Podcasting is a new technology built on top of the web, xml, rss, etc. I
              • And the second part of podcasting is it gives amateurs a chance to compete against established, big-budget radio programs, because the budget requirements are vastly diminished (bandwidth is cheaper than an FCC license and a radio tower).

                Ok, repeat after me... this will be easy, ok?

                PODCASTING IS NOT RADIO.

                I wasn't dissing podcasting, in case you missed it, but as long as we're getting into it; yes, this is what bugs me. Podcasting is not live. Podcasting is deliv
                • Umm. You do know that a LOT of radio *is* produced using "God knows how many takes", right? That much of the best content on NPR and the BBC is painstakingly prepared in advance, edited down from hours of recorded audio from the field and otherwise produced pretty much like video documentaries. Just last week, someone flubbed up in that editing process and one of the field reporter's audio included the 3-2-1 intro for marking edit points on a retake.

                  Just because your "morning zoo" or call-in show is live do
                • Ok, repeat after me... this will be easy, ok?

                  PODCASTING IS NOT RADIO.

                  Ok, repeat after me... this may not be easy, based on your apparant lack of reading cognition, ok?

                  "it's like TiVo for audio broadcasts"

                  See, that was what I said.

                  Then I said it lets people compete against big-budget radio programs, because a lot of the podcast content now is big-budget radio programs.

                  Listening to someone pretending to be doing radio over God knows how many takes completely ruins the experience for me.

                  I have more news for yo
    • Podcasting: It's snob for "streaming audio."

      That would be funny, except it's wrong.

      Podcasting refers to subscribing to audio clips containing regularly updated and timely content and automatically downloading them them so that you can listen to them later, then automatically copying them to a portable music device so that you can listen away from your computer and Internet connection. (So it's not streaming audio at all; the audio files are downloaded in batch.)

      All of these concepts existed before, but nob
    • Dude. Podcasting is not streaming audio. The whole point is that you (typically) download the whole podcast to your device. In those terms, podcasting is simpler than streaming audio. On the other hand, podcasts are syndicated, which makes them quite different from plain audio files (whether streamed or downloaded).
    • Vote for the best reason why parent is brain-dead:

      1) Podcasts aren't actually streamed.

      2) Parent "parrots" a page which complains about stupid people "parroting" things.

      3) Parent "parrots" every other vitriolic /. post about podcasts. These account for about half of all responses to any story involving podcasts.

      4) I like podcasts, you insensitive clod!

    • Get over yourselves.

      People keep posting that stupid link, and it doesn't get any less stupid or clueless. "Podcasting" isn't the audio, it's the means of distribution.

    • Now, anyone saying "podcatcher" should be shot. But if you don't understand how podcasting works, don't blame it on the people who do.

      Think of it like netflix for radio shows, as opposed to "streaming" (like radio) or "going to blockbuster" (downloading).

      Without the idea of podcasting, if there was an audio show you were interested in, every day you'd go to their site, check if there's a new show, download it yourself, save it to a directory, then either burn it to cd, copy it to an mp3 player, or listen t
      • I would say the ratio is closer to 40/1. However, in any medium you're going to get a lot of crap, and the very nature of this particular medium means that there are going to be a lot of niche shows that will only appeal to a very narrow slice of the potential audience (say, the podcaster and her five closest friends).

        The lack of quality control isn't a huge problem, because people will go around recommending the shows that get them excited. If you don't want to go slogging through hours and hours of
  • No (Score:2, Funny)

    Ask me the question, Bridge Keeper. I'm not afraid.

    Bridge Keeper: So what about this one? Other than being the first, does it offer any compelling virtues for the would-be podcaster or listener?


    Bridge Keeper: Oh, well, go ahead and cross.

  • Even though I did some searching around, I haven't yet found an app for linux that does this amazing "subscribe, download, sync to an mp3 player" that the book/review talks about. What apps are out there for linux that are capable of these feats?
  • Who's got numbers showing how many people listen to "podcasts" with their iPod, vs how many listen to any kind of network audio transmission they're just calling a "podcast", directly at their computer? How many of those computer listeners are listening to streams ("Internet radio", etc), how many to downloads (iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, etc)? And how popular is BitTorrent vs just HTTP (or RTSP, MMS, etc)? If the normals are going to herd along our beaten paths bleating "podcast", I want to hear from the sh
  • I tried ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by McSnickered ( 67307 ) on Friday August 12, 2005 @06:42PM (#13308169)
    Honest, I really tried to join the Podcast-superhighway. But what I discovered is that all the podcasts that are highly rated and have even received numerous kudos in woodfiber-casts like NY Times are just too boring. Invariably, it is some individual going on for 20 minutes about how popular their podcast is, and then they whine about how unfair life is and what's wrong with the world. Just listen to a few - you'll see what I mean. It's been a trial to find even 4 podcasts that I find worth listening to. And really - it's just an mp3 file. Now it's time for me to "time-shift". Gotta go!
    • Sure, there are a bunch that are rather bland, but I haven't found it *that* hard to find content I find interesting. The NPR podcasts are great - The Treatment in particular is fantastic if you're a movie buff. This Week in Tech is made of of the old TechTV crew, and is generally a fun listen. Tips from the Top Floor is a great photography show, focusing on a single hint each episode. Daily Sonic (which is probably my personal favorite) is a ~hour long podcast that features 5-15 minute segments on just abo
    • All mediums had crap when they first start out. Though it does improve a bit over time, all mediums that still exist are still flooded with crap. I maintain that the Internet is still mostly crap, but somehow Google manages to bring up the better pages on occation.

      And really, it is "just" an mp3 file, but the people that say that ignore the subscription delivery method, which makes it easy to keep up without visiting several sites repeatedly.
    • Skeptically [] is currently in the Top 100 on iTunes (number 3 ATM), 10th on Podcast Pickle and 43rd on Podcast Alley.

      The Novel Earthcore is also highly rated, but has just concluded. It may appeal to non-technical geeks. Escape Pod, the Podcast of the author of the above reviewer contains short Science Fiction Storys and the Regular Narrators always inject a large amount of Fun into their readings.

      With the exception of one or two episodes, these three podcasts all have high production quality and are a grea

    • My commute is 1 hour 15 minutes. I've been doing that for about 13 years now. I've gone up and down the radio dial but find that I hear the same talk, same music and same commercials...those damn annoying, in your face commercials! I even tried Satellite radio for a while. Better, but still pretty much the same thing day in and day out. With close to 4,000 podcasts available to me, my commute has become much more interesting. I have my favorite podcasts, but I also try new ones each week. You never know whe
  • The newspaper I write for wanted to do this huge writeup on this overhyped marketingspeak word. When I explained that "Podcasting" is nothing more than a digital audio file to a server....but downloading it AUTOMATICALLY!!!!!11111!!1, they scrapped it.

    So in a way, I feel like I've done my part to scrap this bullshit. I'm proud.

    • The newspaper I write for wanted to do this huge writeup on this overhyped marketingspeak word. When I explained that "Podcasting" is nothing more than a digital audio file to a server....but downloading it AUTOMATICALLY!!!!!11111!!1, they scrapped it.

      So, basically, you talked yourself out of going to listen to free music and talking with band members, just to prove a point?

      Um, ok, whatever.
    • If you're writing for a general audience, rather than some tech publication whose readers can presumably find interesting content themselves thankyouverymuch, you probably did them a disservice. Hype or no hype, podcasts seem like an ideal way to deliver content over the Internet to computer novices. Before podcasting, the average user had to:
      1. Find some random web page where somebody puts frequently-updated mp3s.
      2. Bookmark the page, or worse, remember how to find it.
      3. Go to the bloody page every time
  • They're just audio files, right? Like the hundreds I have on my hard drive? Am I missing something? I never did see a book on MP3.
    • The audio file itself is certainly an integral part of a podcast, but it's not all of it. A podcast consists of a regularly produced audio file, an RSS feed that updates when there's a new audio file with a link to it, and an RSS aggregator that automatically downloads the file (and optionally syncs it to a portable music player). That's it.

      I like it because I can listen to NPR's Science Friday [] while I'm working.

      Like the reviewer stated, there's no reason to get the book if you just want to subscribe to a
  • personally, i have a lot of fun doing podcasts. even though mine isn't anything amazing. i don't think we should be using the word we're using, however. eck! []
  • Why is the ability to put it on a portable digital player making such big news?
    • For the same reason TiVo was such a major innovation over the VCR: They do essentially the same thing, but with less manual user intervention.

      I listened to a couple weekly downloadable radio shows before this whole "podcasting" thing became so popular. I had to visit each site from my bookmarks, and download the MP3s manually to my player. With podcasts, I just leave my mp3 player hooked up, and the software loads it up automatically.
  • Does that make me 12 years old? WTF kind of comment is that?
  • Many individuals and news organizations missed out on the leading edge of "blogging" and have been struggling to catch up. Somebody told them that "podcasting" was the Next Big Thing, and they created their own hype whirlwind.

    But hey, if you can have WebTV For Dummies, why not have an entire book about podcasting?

    What we need to do now is combine fad buzzwords with fad law-breaking. Henceforth all podcasts must be distributed on p2p networks. If we can figure out how get them inappropriate ESRB ratings w
  • Anyone know of some good emo music with a Creative Commmons license? I will be podcasting soon @ []
  • Podcast a cry for help []

    BOZEMAN, MT--The few people close to Mitch Delomme say that he doesn't realize the implications of his new podcast, an agonizingly personal 40-minute digitally recorded capsule of news, information, and trivia about the chronically lonely pizza-delivery man.

    "I wanted to share something about myself," said Delomme, 48, who in the course of his life has been heavily involved in ham and CB radio, personal home-page construction, and participation in late-night community-access cable

  • Why does Slashdot continue to use as their affiliate program for books?

    Amazon continually beats them in price on every book review done.

    Amazon $13.59 []*

    *Yes it's an Aff link.
  • Skeptics Abound (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peatbakke ( 52079 ) <> on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:59PM (#13308929) Homepage
    Admitedly, "podcasting" is a buzzword for a technology that's been around for over a decade. And yes, most podcasts will be lame and irritating Live Journal analogs.

    Despite all this, I think it's an important phenomenon. Sometimes all it takes is a buzzword to create an industry out of an interesting but previously unsexy technology (hey, that's what happened to the Internet). It will take a while to mature, and there are some hurdles that need to be addressed (copyright issues and what-not), but in the end it's a disruptive technology and an opportunity to challenge radio's dominant share of the audio broadcast market.

    Yeah, I know -- we've all been streaming music and radio shows for years, and sometimes ripping and burning 'em for later enjoyment ... but we're early technology adopters and geeks.

    The fact of the matter is that everyone I've explained podcasting to is excited about it. Not just my geek friends, but my parents and their friends. Time shifting is a *big* deal in broadcast media. Once people get it, they say "why didn't they do that before?"

    So, that's why podcasting is important. It's not important because of some revolutionary technology -- it's important because it's the fruit of revolutionary and evolutionary technologies: the Internet, broadband, home recording, portable digital players.

    Frankly, I'm surprised by the nay sayers here. This is the sort of stuff we've been having wet dreams about since the late ninties. The rest of the world finally figured it out, and now they're interested in throwing heaps of money at *us* to make it happen. ... and the brilliant part about the whole scheme of things is that you *don't* have to listen to the crap. Isn't that why we invented this stuff in the first place? Because radio sucked?

    So stop whining, jump on the bandwagon, and make it something worth while. You might even make a pile of cash doing it.

    • I think the thing that annoys some of us about the buzzword is that it is tied to one company, Apple. They didn't invent RSS or MP3 players. In fact both things were pretty well established when the iPod came along. Apple just happens to have an overpriced MP3 player brand that has been made popular by the Mac artsy types that hold sway over the tech publications, presumably because macs are historically popular for DTP.

      The whole mac-elite thing just gets on my nerves and I'm not totally sure why. Take MAKE
  • []

    What about our good friend, we have no casting anything without Al inventing the Internet (j/k). But is it really limited to audio only? Check out 366 on Direct TV. I am actually fairly addicted to it.
  • At the very least, they are admitting that it isn't anything revolutionary.

    I'm a bit annoyed that an Apple-based title (pod*)has been attached to something obvious and which, minus RSS (another obvious step to RSS audio files), has been done for almost a decade.

    Note that my problem isn't with Apple, but the idea that this is something new. It isn't, and calling it podcasting is simply applying an inappropriate bullshit title to something that already had a name: downloading and listening to audio files.
  • Prior to a few months ago I had no idea what a Podcast was (and this is coming from a computer geek/audio engineer). I suppose it is precisely BECAUSE I'm an audio guy that I was not aware of Podcasts... because I don't have an MP3 player (portable iPod type, anyway). When I want to listen to music, I use a STEREO system, not my computer.

    But anyway, in March a friend suggested *I* do a Podcast, and I thought he was crazy. I suggested we do one together, and these few months later, we have
  • by jo42 ( 227475 )
    Yet Another Retarded Fad.

    Too bad you can't patent stupidity. I'd be the richest crusty crudge on the planet.

  • "Pirate" radio? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @12:09AM (#13309609) Homepage
    Podcasting: Do-It-Yourself Pirate Radio for the Masses

    Come on, now.
  • It is safe to say that the technology behind podcasting is not breathtaking. To me, it is the social aspect of podcasting that is so great. In the past, I would either have to listen to music radio or NPR. Now, I can choose to listen to something more relevant to me. Until podcasting, I can't think of a technical radio station that I could listen to when I was jogging, but now I can download some good techie podcasts and not have to settle for pirated audio from gnutella. Now, subject matter experts (o
    • So far, the cast has had only constructive feedback from those who have listened.
      Now that Slashdot knows about it, I'm thinking that fortunate state of affairs will come to a sudden and jarring halt.
  • Podcasting
  • I have tried the podcast 'thing' for several months. Using iPodder, searching for podcasts all over the web, and then loading them to my Dell DJ.

    Overall if I had to guess, I would say that I sampled over 200 podcast 'shows' over a 6 month period. There are now only two 'subscriptions' left in my iPodder interface: Science@NASA [] and StarDate []. All of the others came and went. I found that I just could not listen to them for multiple reasons.

    I am really into amateur astronomy and space science, so the re

  • > Worth buying? That depends. If you're itching to get started with podcasting,

    Why would you buy it if you weren't?

    > if you're an absolute beginner when it comes to sound recording,

    In other words, the target audience for the book?

    > if the online resources at Podcast411 and other sites don't float your boat,

    Can't say I have even heard of Podcast411

    > and if you can't wait a few more months for books like Podcast Solutions and Podcasting for Dummies to come out

    So we are supposed to assume sight uns

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