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Thousands of radio stations around the world now broadcast online as well as over the air; many bloggers also now publish their work as sound recordings. All these sources are available to anybody who has a computer with an Internet connection and the right software. Another relatively new phenomenon is that very large numbers of people have portable MP3 music players. Podcasting links the two — audio recordings that you select are automatically downloaded to your player as soon as they become available online so that you can listen to them on the move. The name blends iPod, the name of Apple’s hugely successful portable player, with broadcasting; however, the technique works with many other MP3 players as well. The system is built on the same RSS protocol by which, for example, this newsletter is made available each weekend in addition to e-mail. The word appeared in passing in an article in the Guardian in February 2004, but it suddenly came to wider public attention in October. It’s a mark of its success that it has been estimated that the number of podcasting RSS channels has risen from nothing six months ago to 700,000 in February.

One of the brains behind podcasting is Adam Curry, the telegenic former presenter on MTV in America, who recently moved his family to Guildford to ensure that the children got a British education. Podcasting is becoming something of a phenomenon. Curry wrote some software to make it all happen and thousands of folks visit his website www.ipodder.org to download a wide variety of podcasts from a wide variety of podcasters.

the Evening Standard, 9 Feb. 2005

The ubiquity of MP3 players, the emergence of easy-to-use, inexpensive audio-editing software, and the explosion in the number of blogs where information on new podcasts is posted, has created an environment ripe for podcasting.

New Scientist, 12 Feb. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 5 Mar. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 5 March 2005.