Podcasts are audio broadcasts used to spread the word (many words!) across the social web. Podcasts are created by professionals, amateurs or anyone else with access to a computer and a microphone, and can be on any topic under the sun.
What makes podcasts different from any old audio track embedded in a website is their serial nature. Typically, a new podcast comes out daily or weekly, with a changing topic or guest speaker. You can subscribe to podcasts through a service like iTunes or through your RSS feed reader, or listen to the cast directly at its site.
LISTen is a weekly podcast from LISNews. A short synopis of items of interest, LISTen hits the highlights of the hundreds of weekly stories from this user-supported library news source.
StratFor's Daily Podcast offers a quick analysis of world events and trends, geared towards decision-makers and those who want to know. As someone told me recently: "Listen to this every day if you want to get smarter."
And, of course, one of the most natural podcast sources is radio. NPR's podcast directory is a testament to the continuing appeal of well-created audio-only news and entertainment.
As a note, podcasts are different than streaming audio or internet radio. Podcasts have distinct starting and ending points, while streaming audio flows like a river of sound. Spoiler alert: We'll be covering streaming audio in a later Thing.
How do you find all of these podcasts? As with all things 2.0, you can either hear about them from friends, family and bloggers of all stripes, or you can see if your favorite news/entertainment/educational source has podcasts to offer. You can also search a podcast directory site such as Odeo, Podcast Alley, Podcast Bunker or Podcast.com to look for podcasts on particular topics. If all that fails, use your favorite search engine to look for "a subject of your choice" AND "podcast" and you'll turn up more results than you'd thought possible.
Find a podcast that intrigues you using the resources listed above (or another you already listen to) and share it with us in a blog post. Please link to the original website (such as NPR above). Tell us something about your experience searching for podcasts and about what sorts of things were available.
Housekeeping: This is the last of our 2-Thing weeks, but don't worry. In honor of reaching the halfway point in our run, next week we'll be taking a break and engaging in a few more playful sites and tools. So tune in on Monday for Thing 13: This Thing..That Thing...Library Thing!