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Weblog of Freelance Designer Steven Clark

6/4/2005

Should You Be Podcasting?

Filed under: — 12:40 pm

What is podcasting and why have we been hearing so much about podcasting in the recent past? What can podcasting do? Why have I used podcasting in several sentences and not just used the ‘it’ word? Is podcasting something you even need to know about? Well yes to the last one and I’ll explain something about the rest in turn.

First, I mentioned podcasting over and over because I want you to remember it and not think of it as just another technical catch phrase. I don’t want you to dismiss it as superfluous trivia either because its a technology that’s going to change a lot of how we do things. Podcasting isn’t just about getting mp3s for your music collection.

Put simply when RSS became RSS 2 it provided the ability to include audio and video files into RSS feeds. Podcasting is the creation of an mp3 file that’s then made available with RSS 2. Its really as simple as that and some lateral thinking will no doubt come up with a gamut of applications you can put it to. With podcasts you can deliver you own radio show, its deliverable like all RSS at the users convenience and isn’t subject to the same laws that apply to real-time radio stations. The key is its easy to produce podcasts and they are available when users want to experience them - you just have to figure out how to make commercial profit from them with new business models.

In the bigger picture RSS and podcasting are changing the way we do business and how information and products are, or can be, delivered to our clients. Its a ‘user request’ and not a ‘company sent’ line of communication too which means you won’t be sending those unwanted emails out to people. Provide the RSS Reader and instructions how to install it and then point users to your RSS page. From then on the client has real time access to all of your product information via RSS and podcasts. Podcasting is just another dimension to the RSS experience.

20/2/2005

RSS 2.0 on Linden’s Blog

Filed under: — 8:10 pm

This article only applies to RSS .9x and RSS 2.0.

The RSS ‘thang’ is a must have on any site nowdays if you have any kind of dynamic content and don’t we all know it. Generally all I’ve done in the past is utilise the WordPress feeds though and never really looked into just ‘how’ simple Really Simple Syndication can be to implement by hand. OK there’s the manual update that takes a couple of minutes but hey this is a geeky blog right?! And its nearly always better to do something by hand at least once to understand what it’s really doing down there (excuse the pun).

On Linden Langdon’s blog, Translucent, this week we decided to implement just such a hand made RSS 2.0 feed and submit it to the feed eating world. Basically although I developed the site Linden is responsible for updating and manually validating the content and RSS feed by herself. While the rest of the world (now including me) hooks into automated blogging software some people like to have a nice home brewed personal blog experience including writing content into the page in straight XHTML and manipulating Cascading Style Sheets. Something I liken to the difference between buying a fibreglass dinghy and hand crafting one from good huon pine. The craft in the craft so to speak.

The best and really best way to start looking at making RSS of the .9x or 2.0 variety is the Harvard Law Blog, which might sound counter-intuitive at first. But try not to be disappointed when you see that all these gains are made with such little effort and skill. Really Simple Syndication is really simple.

Unless you want to chase up the RSS 1.0 spec which is based on RDF - but that’s another story.

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