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MP3 files

Ultimately when a podcast is created, it becomes an MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, or AAC file. In the case of mainstream podcasting, these files are then published via RSS. Some podcasts, however, are not set up with RSS but are instead available as straight downloads in the form of MP3 files (or one of the other compression formats). Although RSS offers the most exposure for a podcast, having a simple downloadable file also has its advantages and uses.

The most common examples of downloadable MP3 files in the commercial realm are audiobooks and periodicals through sites like Audible.com (Figure 4.7). These sites sell content and then make the content available as downloadable compressed files that can be played on a number of MP3 players. In the case of Audible.com, the files are also available as streaming content, but a large number of the site's customers use the download feature so that they have a copy of the podcast on their hard drives.

Figure 4.7. Audible.com allows downloading of all the podcasts it sells.

Corporations are increasingly making podcasts available to both the curious public and their employees. In the case of Duke University (Figure 4.8), educational lectures are made available as MP3 files for download by the student body. Basically, any audio file that is available as a download from a hyperlink on any Web site is considered to be a podcast.

Figure 4.8. From this portal, Duke University is using hyperlinked audio files to disseminate lectures to its students.

If you are creating a podcast for a company that wants only a select group of people to hear it, placing the podcast in a hyperlink for individual download may be the best route to take. Many companies and organizations include a combination of a hyperlink to the podcast file and an RSS feed and/or a streaming feed. Indeed, some podcasters have begun to make their podcasts available through multiple routes. On the site of the top-10 podcast “Catholic Insider,” for example, links are included for download of the podcasts, streaming podcasts, and RSS feeds (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9. “Catholic Insider” is an example of a podcast that offers multiple access points.

Ultimately, the most compelling reasons to link a podcast file to a hyperlink on a Web site are:

  • For corporations to disseminate information to their employees

  • As an adjunct to publishing podcasts through RSS

  • For educational institutions to make podcasts available to their students but not the rest of the world

  • For anyone who wants to control who gains access to the podcast

  • For private podcasters who want only people who visit their Web sites to have access to the podcast

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