Finally got around to giving podcasting a whirl, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. The concept is simple: it’s TiVo for digital audio. You subscribe to podcast feeds, and your podcast application periodically checks to see if there are new posts; if so, they’re downloaded and placed in an iTunes playlist. Once transferred, you can listen in iTunes, or on your iPod after you sync with iTunes.
Not surprisingly (since the concept grew out of a collaboration between Adam Curry and Dave Winer) the payload that makes all this possible is RSS. Whereas “traditional” RSS feeds are for the delivery of text (from weblogs, news sites, etc.), podcast RSS feeds include links to the associated MP3 files. The podcast app then downloads the MP3 file, and transfers the file to iTunes, where it can be played or synched with your iPod.
The trend is getting some press (the NY Times, for once, is out in front of this trend; other pubs are also starting to pick up on it), and this is bound to become a popular way of distributing content. Once set up, it’s transparent to the end user.
Speaking of the iPod, if you are in the car for a while, give the Monster iCarPlay a look. I received it as a birthday gift, and my early results are far better than prior efforts at broadcasting the iPod through my car stereo. (The integrated charger is a nice feature too.)