Podcasting was originally a term and concept initially established to describe the ability to download audio files directly into Apple’s iTunes software and then automatically into Apple’s iPod music player, via a Macintosh or PC.
The beauty of the software is that it utilized RSS (Really Simple Syndication) infrastructure to allow users to subscribe to a ‘program service’ or ‘feed’ and have the latest editions of the program downloaded automatically in the background as soon as they became available to play at a later date on-demand. There are now thousands of audio (radio) programs available – Podcasts - from a wide range of suppliers whether they be major media groups … or individuals creating programs from their basements.
Also, very importantly, Podcasting was about making the audio content portable. Separating the content from the desktop and using it whenever and WHEREVER one likes on their portable MP3 player.
Some loosely described Podcasting as ‘Tivo’ for radio.
Microcasting is the new term to describe the evolution of Podcasting from both a technical and conceptual basis.
On the technical side, Microcasting by definition includes; all ‘rich’ media (audio, video and applications) syndicated across any device and platform; whether it be a PC, PDA or cell-phone. And although Ipods are still the most popular form of portable digital audio players, Microcasts are compatible with ANY digital audio player, as well as a growing range of portable video players now entering the market.
From the conceptual side, Microcasting is the ability to provide a more finely-tuned specialization of content on a program-by-program basis rather than a channel-by-channel basis. The program is delivered ‘one-to-one’ rather than ‘one-to-many’ which is the foundation of broadcasting or narrowcasting. It uses one of the primary benefits of IP communications … the ability to succinctly communicate from one device to another.”
The XML tag is the instruction for the RSS 2.0 'syndication' software to subscribe to this program ('feed'). It is not to be used with a standard web browser at the moment, (although the next releases of IE and Safari may contain RSS support), but to be used with the 'syndication' software (or Aggregator) as provided on the Technical Support page of this site.
Basically copy the 'link' underlying the image (usually by 'right' clicking) and paste it into the 'add feed' dialogue box that will open upon the 'add feed' instruction of the 'syndication' software.
Why is it different to any other streaming or downloading media model?
Microcasting and Podcasting are about that whole transaction occurring automatically. Once a user has decided to ‘subscribe’ to a ‘feed’ he’ll receive all future installments when they become available automatically and loaded onto any device he chooses.
Virtually every 'Casting' site gives users the opportunity just to directly download the MP3 (Program) file manually and operate it as outlined above (in the 'streaming' and 'downloading' media models).
For example, on the New Releases page of the Screen Gems site, each available program has a 'Direct Download Link'. When the link is accessed, that particular Program becomes available for the user. Generally, if the user accesses the Link with a 'left-click' of the mouse, the program will be streamed to the user and begin playing automatically. If the user accesses the Link with a 'right-click' of the mouse, the option to directly 'download' the MP3 file onto the computer becomes available and the user can then work with the file in whatever manner and time of their choice.
Video is already on the move. There are at least five manufacturers and marketers selling Ipod-like audio/video devices. There are some issues over proprietary video codecs – there is no ‘portable’ video codec standard available as ubiquitous as MP3 for audio, but we’re getting closer. (One of DivX, Xvid and MPEG4 will win out.)
The industry is just waiting for Apple to introduce a video-ready Ipod in the near future.