When you’re thinking about ways to get your message in front of as many people as possible, have you considered podcasting? Eww, it’s a techie term! What is podcasting? It may sound scary if you don’t know what it is it but rest easy, it’s really pretty simple.
Let’s start with some terminology. There are just a few ingredients that go into making a podcast and they are XML, RSS, media files, web servers, and an RSS reader. In order for everything to make sense, we have to start with XML. Hang with me; it gets really easy at the end.
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a programming language of sorts. There are lots of things you can do with an XML file but what we’re concerned with is using it to create an RSS feed. These two go hand in hand. An RSS feed is a simple way for someone to subscribe to quickly changing information. Think of an RSS feed like the text crawl along the bottom of news sites like CNN, Fox, or MSNBC. RSS feeds are short in nature and serve to update the subscriber when there is new information published.
Now, I’m going to skip ahead for a minute to the RSS reader. An RSS reader is either a website or an application that gathers and displays a series of news–style headlines. This is an important part of the distribution model that makes podcasting so popular. When a new podcast (or news headline) is published, the reader automatically downloads and displays it for the viewer.
In a podcast, the media file is the actual file that you want the end viewer to receive. Technically, a podcast can be either an audio file, a video file, or a document like a .pdf file. The web server is where that file is stored until it is downloaded by a subscriber through their aggregator.
Are you still with me? It’s all downhill from here!
Here’s a typical workflow for publishing an audio podcast. I’m going to use some specific names you might recognize as a part of this example:
- Record your Sunday message into a MacBook Pro using Garage Band with the built-in audio input jack.
- Using Garage Band, edit your podcast with an opener, closer and possibly a little cleanup.
- Export your recording from Garage Band into iWeb
- Create a podcast page in iWeb and add your recording to that page.
- Publish your podcast site.
- Copy the link from the podcast site and paste it into the iTunes podcast form.
Garage Band is a multitrack audio recording software and iWeb is a very simple software for creating web sites. Both of these are included for free on Apple computers and if you have a subscription to MobileMe, a web based service from Apple that provides everything you need for podcasting, then you’ve got all the ingredients to get a podcast recorded, edited, posted, and listed for free within the iTunes Store.
There you go, you’re published! Now, the particular workflow I described above is Fowler’s recommended solution. It’s about as simple as it gets. It’s dependent on a MobileMe subscription to provide the hosting service for the media files but that’s one of many options for hosting your files. Notice I didn’t mention XML, RSS, web server, or RSS readers. iWeb creates the XML file for you in the background, the RSS feed points to your iWeb site, an online storage server called iDisk is the web server for your media file, and iTunes is the RSS reader. The beauty of this solution is that all of the techie stuff is hidden from the user.
See? Completely painless, right?
Mon, September 28, 2009
by Josh Tate filed under