I'm speaking this coming Saturday at the Calgary Linux User Group's Linuxfest. The topic? You guessed it - Podcasting (with Linux tools). While putting my notes together for my talk, I spent a few minutes reaching back in my mind for the definition of what a podcast actually is. I remember three things that make a podcast a podcast:
While there are a hundred ways to listen to an audio file and a handful of suitable audio formats, the fact remains that the definition of a podcast is an MP3 file that is made avilable via an RSS 2.0 feed that is meant to be read by a special aggregator that is called a podcatcher. Any other combination is not a podcast.
To be fair, I really don't care about these technicalities. I'm one who enjoys the mental exercise of being a purist, but isn't really one at heart. But what does this have to do with business podcasting? It's all about credibility.Audio Graphics has a good article today that addresses the issue of credibility in the framework of radio stations using the word podcast incorrectly.
Podcasting uses RSS or XML feeds; that is, a podcast is only a podcast if it is automatically downloaded to a person's computer or mobile device. When someone visits a radio station web site and downloads an audio clip or program, they are not downloading a podcast. The download is from a program or audio clip, nothing more.
Offer podcasts if you'd like, sure. But only call them podcasts if they meet the criteria. If not, you're signalling to a segment of your customers that you're just on the bandwagon and haven't really invested any time in understanding what you're doing.