The difference between podcasting and simply making an audio or video file available for download on your Web site is that there's an automated system, usually an RSS feed, allowing users to subscribe to the content. That way, when you post, say, the monthly meeting information, it's automatically downloaded by subscribers' computers, who then listen to it online or play it on an iPod or other mobile device.
Podcasts started appearing in 2003, but it wasn't until late 2004 that the concept took off and the term — a combination of “iPod” and “broadcasting” — entered the vernacular. Among the early event-related uses of a podcast by a corporation was General Motors' early 2005 post of two MP3 files relating to new car launches at the Chicago Auto Show on its GM Fastlane Blog, made available via an RSS feed.
In March 2005, John Edwards became the first major U.S. politician to launch a podcast. “Podcast” was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year in 2005, and was a new entry in the book's 2006 edition.
The potential for meeting podcasting is huge. Imagine podcasting new product information to attendees prior to a sales meeting or a keynote from the investor conference to those who couldn't be there. Educational applications are already under way. One example is CME Outfitters LLC, Rockville, Md., which began podcasting medical education in July 2005. “The cool thing about podcasting is we can bundle PDFs in with the different activities,” says Christopher Perez, managing partner. “So if it's an audioconference, we're podcasting through an MP3 file, we can bundle in a PDF of the post test, the slides, the evaluation forms, instructions — everything the docs need when they download the file.”
TED, an annual conference of thinkers in technology, education, and design, recently began podcasting its keynotes — with sponsorship from BMW. Podcasts from its February 2006 event include Al Gore and public health expert Hans Rosling.
While meeting-related podcasts are still in their infancy, companies large and small are using them to reach a range of audiences. Here are just a few examples: Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., St. Louis, podcasts animal advice programs. Walt Disney World has a weekly podcast featuring news on its Florida theme parks. JupiterResearch, New York, last year launched JupiterResearch Conversations — podcasts of discussions with the company's analysts.
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PODCAST 1. (noun) A method of distributing audio or video content to subscribers over the Internet. 2. (verb) To distribute such content.