Trivial Post #2: Podcasting definitions and recommendations

I've been experimenting with Podcasting lately. (Simple definition: Podcasting is like RSS for MP3s. It allows you to automatically download MP3 "posts" the way an RSS reader downloads blog entries.)

Podcasts are really designed with MP3 players in mind, especially hard-drive based players like IPod that know how to sync up with the MP3 collection on your computer's hard drive. You can of course listen to them even if you don't own an MP3 player (I don't); it works just as well to listen to the podcasts right off your computer. Ultimately, I could foresee listening to podcasts via an MP3 player and an FM transmitter on my weekly commute to work. From a time-management perspective, that would definitely require that Podcast downloads be automatically channeled to my (future) MP3 player.

Three major podcast websites are Podcast Alley, and The Ipodder site also has Podcast freeware you can download (also called Ipodder), which enables you to get started as a podcasting listener.

Ipodder works pretty well, though it's far from perfect. I'd like to see them revise the software to allow users to cancel podcast downloads in mid-stream, and also to change the order of subscriptions. The software is, however, much easier to use than some other Podcast wares I tried. Most of the others out there are "Command line" based, which means they are effectively DOS-- you have to modify an .ini file to add new subscriptions.

Another sophisticated Podcast application is Nimiq, which seems to be somewhat more powerful than Ipodder. It can import subscription lists from other programs, and has OPML browsing. I haven't played with this one as much yet, however.

Ultimately, the success of Podcasting will depend on the quality of the content. Right now, the 'big' podcasters are a little like radio talk shows. There are quite a number of tech/gadget/intellectual property shows like Engadget and Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, as well as raunchy timepass shows like the Dawn and Drew show (the latter is not work safe, so I'm not providing a link at present). At best, these shows can bring you information (or make you laugh), but because they don't have editors, censors, or any kind of formal limitation, some of the 'chat' podcasters have a tendency to desultory chatter. (The same tendency to chattiness is a problem in blogs as well.)

Personally, I'm more interested in Deep Rhythms, which specializes in deep house music, and Avolta (Rare Brazilian Grooves). Also quite good is The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, which emulates the style of 1930s and 40s radio plays. Music geeks might like Vinyl Podcast, which specializes in digitized transmission of songs that are only available on vinyl, and which are also out of print. The content on these podcasts is superb; the problem is that they are somewhat less frequent than the others.

If I did my own podcast, I would probably select short stories or poems that are in the public domain -- Litcasting! (In the vein of NPR's "Selected Shorts.") It might also be nice to do some Indian podcasting content -- maybe reviews of new Hindi films? And discussion of current events (like the Tsunami, Indian politics, etc.).

We'll see if I actually have the time for it... maybe sometime down the road.

A final recommendation is the media feeds from I've been able to find some interesting Tsunami footage this way (example).

Does anyone out there have further podcast recommendations?