Podcast Distribution

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The technology behind podcasting is called RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

''RSS'' (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML-based format that allows websites to broadcast their content, allowing you to keep up to date with current news from your favorite websites via news readers or Web logs (blogs).

Subscribing to an RSS feed can free you from having to browse to individual Web sites to see whether there is new information or not. With RSS, a site can "feed" new information directly to you whenever there is new content to share. With RSS, new information is automatically delivered directly to you. You can control which sites you want to subscribe to; you can cancel them at any time.

In basic terms, a podcast is an RSS feed that feeds in media files instead of text-based information, and can be used to:

  • Distribute audio and video media files via the Web.
  • Allows subscription so that new media files ( called "episodes" or "tracks") are automatically received.

Podcast feeds and related media files need to be hosted on a web server. The podcast can then be subscribed to using a type of software RSS aggregator to manage podcast feed links. The most well-known aggregator for podcasts is iTunes. Desktop and web-based RSS readers can also subscribe to podcasts.


How to Create a Podcast Feed

There are a variety of desktop applications that are able to produce RSS feeds that will distribute your podcast. Here a a few suggested tools:

ProfCast

"[ProfCast's] Podcast Manager will generate and publish RSS files (needed to create a podcast). You can add any media (even files not recorded with ProfCast) to your podcast by simply dragging the file onto the episode selector well (this will create a new episode for the media file). From the podcast manager you can publish to various servers including FTP, SFTP, .Mac WebDAV or even a local folder."

Documentation: Profcast - Publishing a podcast

Podcast Maker

"Podcast Maker creates RSS 2.0 and iTunes compatible RSS XML files for your podcast so that you don't have to fuss over the details of getting it right and fully standards compliant."

Video Tutorial: How to use Podcast Maker

Columbia on iTunes U

Alternatively, iTunes produces a podcast RSS feed for any files that you host on iTunes U. For more information on Columbia's iTunes U service, visit http://itunes.columbia.edu.