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Podcasting Terms: Glossary

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AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

AAC is a proprietary audio file format from Apple that is only playable by Apple software and hardware. See Apple's Web site for more information.

An RSS aggregator program used to collect and read RSS and Atom feeds. An aggregator may also be known as a newsreader, news aggregator or RSS aggregator. Some readers exist as stand-alone programs and others operate as extensions of Web browsers or e-mail programs; still others are available online so feeds can be read independently of the computer used to collect them.

An audiocast is audio content that is broadcast over the Internet. The term serves as a broad descriptor of any audio content, including streaming audio, podcasts or other distribution methods.

A bed is sound from a recording that is repurposed to be a background element, like background music or special effects.

A blog (short for Weblog ) is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs are defined by their format: a series of entries posted to a single page in reverse-chronological order. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or reflect the purpose of the Web site that hosts the blog.

A board is short for "mixing board," a tool for combining multiple audio sources into one signal for recording.

A channel is a group of podcast items, each of which represents one MP3 audio file (or show). When subscribing to podcast s, it is the channel to which you subscribe.

Chicklet is a slang term for the small, often orange buttons used as links to RSS files. Most podcatchers allow a user to "drag and drop" chicklets directly onto them to easily add a subscription.

Creative Commons
The Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works, including tools and guidance for artists and authors who wish to release some rights to their material under certain conditions while still maintaining copyright. See Creative for more information.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( DMCA )
The DMCA is a controversial United States digital rights management ( DRM ) law enacted October 28, 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton. The intent behind DMCA was to create an updated version of copyright laws to deal with the special challenges of regulating digital material. Broadly, the aim of DMCA is to protect the rights of both copyright owners and consumers.

Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format . In this format, information is organized into discrete units of data (called bit s) that can be separately addressed (usually in multiple-bit groups called bytes ). This is the binary data that computers and many devices with computing capacity (such as digital camera s and digital hearing aid s) can process.

An enclosure is the portion of an RSS feed that links to multimedia files to be including along with each item, specifically the audio file used for the podcast. Podcast clients identify enclosures and automatically download them. An enclosure might look like this:
<enclosure url="" length="10306438" type="audio/mpeg" />

Encoding is the process of putting a sequence of character s (letters, numbers, punctuation, and certain symbols) into a specialized format for efficient transmission or storage. In podcasting terms, encoding often refers to the conversion of recorded audio files into MP3 for upload and distribution.

fair use
Fair use is a legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research. The idea of fair use originally arose for written works. With the advent of digital technology and the Internet, fair use has also been applied to the redistribution of music, photographs, videos and software.

ID3 is a metadata specification that allows information to be added to MP3 files. Commonly, items like track title, artist, album and track number are placed within ID3 "tags" that identify the type of data contained within.

Imaging refers to the concept of using audio effects, spoken phrases or music to create a brand - or "image" - for a podcast.

intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term for describing various rights or entitlements that apply to the ownership, and thus use, of certain types of information, ideas or other concepts in an expressed form.

The iPod is a digital media player from Apple Computer. The name inspired the term "podcasting," a combination of iPod and broadcast. With over 40 million sold worldwide, the rapid adoption of the iPod has created a market overnight for subscription-based audio content that could be automatically downloaded from iTunes and then uploaded to the device.

One of the original podcast clients, iPodder is a free software application that automatically downloads new shows when they become available and synchronizes them with a portable digital audio player. iPodder is now called "Juice."

An item is a single entry in a news feed or podcast channel. Each item contains an enclosure that links to the audio file for the podcast, including ID3 tags.

iTunes is Apple's multimedia player software, including a store where users can download music, videos, television shows and podcasts. Along with ripping, organizing and playing multimedia files, iTunes links to a directory of podcasts and acts as a podcatcher by allowing users to subscribe to podcasts.

Juice is a free program that can automatically download new shows when they become available and synchronize them with portable digital audio players. Formerly called "iPodder."

Mash means to mix two audio segments or songs together.


A microphone is an acoustic to electric transducer that converts sound into an electric signal.

MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions) is an extension of the original Internet E-mail protocol that lets people use the protocol to exchange different kinds of data files on the Internet: audio, video, images, application programs and other kinds, as well as the ASCII text handled in the original protocol, the Simple Mail Transport Protocol ( SMTP ).

Historically, "mixer" has been used to refer to an electronic device that allows a user to combine, route, or change the level, tone or dynamics of two or more audio signals. Modem software allows this function to be accomplished using specialized software on a PC, though many recording artists continue to use specialized equipment. Read this article from to learn more about mixing.

A mobcast is an audio program that can be received on cell phones or mobile devices. Also called a "mobilecast" or, in the case of video content, "movlog."

MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) is a standard technology and format for compressing a sound sequence into a very small file (about one-twelfth the size of the original file) while preserving the original level of sound quality when it is played.

A narrowcast is audio or video programs that targets a specific audience demographic, as opposed to a broadcast. Many podcasts may be described as narrowcasts, although as the technology continues to be adopted, "mainstream" programming for wider audiences is being podcast as well.

news feed
A news feed is a Web feed that specifically supplies new headlines or posts to an RSS aggregator. See "RSS feed."

A palmcast is podcast that is sent or read by a Palm PDA.

A podcast is an audio file published on the Internet with an RSS feed, allowing users to subscribe to automatic downloads of a series of such programs. Podcasts are a collection of files, audio MP3 files for example, that are then included in an RSS 2.0 news feed as enclosures. Instead of headlines in a news feed, each item in a podcast RSS feed represents a single MP3 file.

Podcasting is the preparation and distribution of audio (and possibly other media) files for download to digital music or multimedia players, such as the iPod . A podcast can be easily created from a digital audio file. The podcaster first saves the file as an MP3 and then uploads it to the Web site of a service provider. The MP3 file gets its own URL , which is inserted into an RSS XML document as an enclosure within an XML tag .

A podcatcher is a software application that automatically checks podcast feeds and automatically download new items.

Podfather is a reference to Adam Curry, former MTV VJ, who was an earlier adopter and driver of the technology. He produces two podcasts, Podfinder and Daily Source Code .

PSA stands for public service announcement.

A punchcast is a podcast that is sent directly to a smartphone or other mobile device, without being sent to a laptop or desktop PC.

push technology
Push technology refers to a set of technologies whereby information is delivered from a central server to a client computer, often by means of an Internet-based content delivery network .

RSS (RDF Site Summary, formerly called Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a method of describing news or other Web content that is available for "feeding" (distribution or syndication ) from an online publisher to Web users. RSS is an application of the Extensible Markup Language ( XML ) that adheres to the World Wide Web Consortium's Resource Description Framework ( RDF ). Originally developed by Netscape for its browser's Netcenter channels, the RSS specification is now available for anyone to use.

RSS feed
An RSS feed is an XML file that provides content or summaries of content, including links to the full versions of the content and other metadata, that a user can subscribe to using an RSS aggregator.

sample rate
Sample rate refers to the measurement of how many data points of a sound wave are taken, analogous to the number of frames in film, or frame rate. Generally speaking, the higher the sound rate, the better the reproduction of the sound is to the ear. Higher sample rates result in larger file sizes.

Skype is an Internet telephony service provider that offers free calling between computers and low-cost calling to regular telephones that aren't connected to the Internet. Included in the free service is a softphone application that can be downloaded to any laptop or desktop computer, or other computing device running Windows , MacIntosh , Linux , or Pocket PC operating systems.

To spool is to copy an RSS link into a podcast organizer or loader application to download later.

A stinger is a brief sound or musical phrase that may be used as "audio punctuation."

streaming media

Streaming media is sound ( audio ) and pictures (video) that are transmitted on the Internet in a streaming or continuous fashion, using data packet s. The most effective reception of streaming media requires some form of Broadband technology such as cable modem or DSL .

In general, syndication is the supply of material for reuse and integration with other material, often through a paid service subscription. The most common example of syndication is in newspapers, where such content as wire-service news, comics, columns, horoscopes and crossword puzzles are usually syndicated content. Newspapers receive the content from the content providers, reformat it as required, integrate it with other copy, print it and publish it. For many years mainly a feature of print media, today content syndication is the way a great deal of information is disseminated across the Web.

Universal Subscription Mechanism. USM allows certain podcaster to automatically add a subscription from an RSS file.

To tickerize is to add stock ticker symbol meta-information to an item in an RSS feed.

 Timeshifting is the process of recording and storing data for later viewing, listening or reading. In communications, the term timeshifting refers to the transmission of messages or data to be read, heard or viewed by the recipient at a later time. E-mail, voice mail and fax are common examples. Podcasting is a perfect example of timeshifting for radio programming.

Uploading is the transmission of a file from one computer system to another, usually larger computer system. From a network user's point-of-view, to upload a file is to send it to another computer that is set up to receive it.

video podcasting
Video podcasting is similar to podcasting, except that video files are published instead of MP3s into RSS feeds. Also called "vlogging" or "vodcasting."

See video podcasting.

A vlog (or video blog) is a blog that contains video content. The small, but growing, segment of the blogosphere devoted to vlogs is sometimes referred to as the vlogosphere.

A weblog is a Web site that consists of a series of entries arranged in reverse chronological order, often updated on frequently with new information about particular topics. The information can be written by the site owner, gleaned from other Web sites or other sources or contributed by users.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the World Wide Web, intranets and elsewhere.

Zencasting is podcasting by another name, referring to Zen digital media device from Creative. The term is sometimes used to describe video podcasting, though infrequently.

This was last updated in May 2007
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