Podcasting

Podcasting is a method of publishing audio and video programs via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe
to a feed of new files (usually MP3s). It became popular in late 2004, largely due to automatic downloading
of audio on to portable players or personal computers.

Listeners may subscribe to feeds using “podcatching” software
(a type of aggregator), which periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically.

Most podcatching software enables the user to copy podcasts to portable music players. Any digital audio
player or computer with audio–playing software can play podcasts.
Source: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting] date accessed 18th October 2005.

Ethics
Podcasting is just one example of a number of web based new channels that are emerging for the creation
and distribution of knowledge and ideas. A key difference between these new channels and the ones with
which our world is currently most familiar and comfortable (e.g. printed media & television), is that the
people in control of the channels are often difficult, if not impossible, to identify.
These new media channels are presenting the opportunity for anyone with a voice to be heard anywhere
within the global society without any prejudice in terms of censorship or editorial.
Whilst this development can be perceived as positive from many perspectives, it could be argued that there
are considerable dangers in exposing our world to the ideas of anyone without any kind of check or balance.

This fact provides us with a number of ethical problems such as:
• Who should seek to control these new media channels?
• How far should freedom of speech be allowed to go?
• To what extent is the validity of a source of information dependant on our ability to identify the
author?

Technology
These new media channels have grown out of the technology underpinning the World Wide Web and
have their roots firmly in Markup Languages of which HTML is probably the most well known and easily
accessible. The development of XML and offsprings such as RSS, have changed the face of the World
Wide Web from a static, page–based experience to a dynamic media–rich environment.
Users are now able to subscribe to information channels on the Web where information is syndicated.

Hardware developments such as portable MP3/MP4 players, 3G phones, and wireless communications
are currently revolutionising the distribution of media that is downloaded from the World Wide Web. By
the time that you read this, many new developments will have occurred that will challenge still further our
understanding of how information and media are created, collected and distributed.