Podcasting Taking Off Slowly … But Certainly

There is a lot of buzz around podcasting these days. Last December, the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary selected "podcast" as the word of the year (and they defined it as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player"). Since then, the chatter has only picked up. However, just how many people regularly download and use podcasts is a somewhat different story.

This week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project issued a new study showing that podcasting hasn't quite been integrated into the fabric of everyday life. Although 12% of those surveyed have downloaded a podcast at some point, only 1% do so on a daily basis. That's a far cry (in terms of frequency) from how people use their cell phones, TVs and the Internet.

Despite these low numbers, I strongly suspect that daily podcast usage will inexorably climb in the coming few years. Just think about it. Over 20 million Americans now own an iPod or mp3 player, and those figures will almost certainly continue to rise. The ever-increasing number of iPod/mp3 owners will get more comfortable adding content to their players. And broadcasters will continue the trend of using sites like iTunes as an alternative means of distributing their content. Fast forward a few years, and here's what you'll have: A country awash with iPods and digital content, and a nation of consumers who realize that they can use their mp3 players to access content/information fully on-demand. You'll be able to access whatever content you want (no matter how specific your interest), wherever you want, whenever you want, without commercials and often for free. Content without compromises. Who would want to miss out on that?

Check out Open Culture's University Podcast Collection


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