Podcast Tutorial

We talk about pod­casts a good deal around here. But giv­en that only 12% of inter­net users have ever down­loaded a pod­cast, and only 1% does so dai­ly (see this Pew Research Cen­ter study), we want­ed to pro­vide an overview of pod­casts and how to use them. In a few min­utes, we want to get you up and run­ning and explor­ing our rich col­lec­tions of edu­ca­tion­al and cul­tur­al mate­ri­als.

What is a pod­cast?

Here’s the basic answer. Pod­casts are essen­tial­ly radio shows avail­able for down­load over the Inter­net, and you can lis­ten to them on your iPod, oth­er portable mp3 play­ers, and com­put­er. Instead of being broad­cast over the air­waves and even­tu­al­ly lost, as hap­pens with tra­di­tion­al radio shows, pod­casts can be stored and played at the user’s con­ve­nience. Think of it as a TIVO in audio.

How do I down­load and lis­ten to pod­casts? The iTunes Way

Giv­en the preva­lence of Apple’s iPod/iPhone, dis­cussing the Apple way of down­load­ing pod­casts is unavoid­able.

To access pod­casts through iTunes (down­load for free here), you have sev­er­al options:

Option 1:

  • Open iTunes,
  • Click on “iTunes store” on the left side of the screen,
  • Next click on “Pod­casts” with­in the area called “iTunes Store,”
  • Search and find the pod­cast you want,
  • Then either click “Get Episode” to get an indi­vid­ual pod­cast that inter­ests you, or click “Sub­scribe” to auto­mat­i­cal­ly receive each new install­ment with­in the pod­cast series.

Option 2:

  • Find a pod­cast that you’d like to explore. (You may encounter them while surf­ing the web),
  • Locate the pod­cast’s rss feed, which sites usu­al­ly adver­tise on their home­page, and are often accom­pa­nied by this sym­bol,
  • Click on the “Advanced” drop-down menu along the top of the screen,
  • Next select “Sub­scribe to pod­cast,”
  • And then paste the feed link (for exam­ple, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/feeds/mind.xml) into the box and click “Ok.”

NOTE: This option works well when you find a pod­cast that’s not already list­ed on iTunes.

Option 3:

  • Some­times when you’re surf­ing the web, you’ll find a pod­cast that you like, and you’ll have the option to sub­scribe direct­ly to the pod­cast on iTunes from the web page. (On Open Cul­ture, we give you this option when­ev­er we see a link that says “iTunes.”)
  • Click on the link and it will help you launch iTunes, and from there you’ll be giv­en the option either to sub­scribe to the ongo­ing pod­cast, or to down­load indi­vid­ual episodes.

Lis­ten­ing to the Pod­casts

Final­ly, when you sync your iPod, your pod­casts will be auto­mat­i­cal­ly down­loaded onto your iPod. And you can lis­ten to them by:

  • Turn­ing on your iPod,
  • Click­ing on “Music” at the main menu.
  • Scrolling the wheel down to “Pod­casts,”
  • And then select­ing the indi­vid­ual pod­casts that you want to play.

Are there alter­na­tives to iTunes?

Yes. And you have a cou­ple of options here.

If you own anoth­er kind of mp3 play­er (e.g. ones by Microsoft, San­Disk, or Cre­ative), it will come with soft­ware that per­forms essen­tial­ly the same func­tions as iTunes. And you’ll want to fol­low the same basic direc­tions that we out­lined in Step 2 above. That is, find the rss feed (which we always try to pro­vide) and use it to sub­scribe to the pod­cast. Then sync and lis­ten.

And then there is an inter­est­ing sec­ond option: Life­hack­er recent­ly rec­om­mend­ed a free soft­ware called “MyPod­der” (down­load here). It is a cross plat­form soft­ware for down­load­ing pod­casts direct­ly to your MP3 play­er, no mat­ter what kind you have.

Can I Make My Own Pod­casts?

Sure, check out our pre­vi­ous fea­ture that directs you to good resources.

Podcasts from Top American Law Schools


  • Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty — Wash­ing­ton Col­lege of Law iTunes Feed Web Site
    • An eclec­tic col­lec­tion of legal pod­casts.
  • Duke Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Lec­tures, pan­els, con­fer­ences, etc.
  • George­town Uni­ver­si­ty — George­town Law iTunes Feed Web Site
    • One of the rich­er col­lec­tions.
  • George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty
    • The Law and Eco­nom­ics Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
      • Pro­duced by the Jour­nal of Law, Eco­nom­ics, and Pol­i­cy.
  • Har­vard Law School
    • Medi­a­Berk­man by The Berk­man Cen­ter for Inter­net & Soci­ety iTunes Feed Web Site
      • Medi­a­Berk­man “fea­tures con­ver­sa­tions with and talks by lead­ing cyber-schol­ars, entre­pre­neurs, activists, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers as they explore top­ics such as the fac­tors that influ­ence knowl­edge cre­ation and dis­sem­i­na­tion in the dig­i­tal age; the char­ac­ter of pow­er as the worlds of gov­er­nance, busi­ness, cit­i­zen­ship and the media meet the inter­net; and the oppor­tu­ni­ties, role and lim­i­ta­tions of new tech­nolo­gies in learn­ing.”
  • Lewis & Clarke Law School Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Pod­casts of speak­ers and events.
  • Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Law School
    • Cen­ter for Inter­net and Soci­ety iTunes Web Site
      • These tech­nol­o­gy-focused lec­tures are giv­en by a diverse group of fac­ul­ty, many from uni­ver­si­ties oth­er than Stan­ford.
    • Pro­gram in Law, Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy iTunes Web Site
      • This pro­gram focus­es on the role that sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy play in the nation­al and glob­al are­nas. The issues dis­cussed in these pod­casts will inter­est stu­dents, legal pro­fes­sion­als, busi­ness­peo­ple, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and the pub­lic at large.
    • The Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion Soci­ety for Law and Pol­i­cy iTunes Feed Web Site
      • The Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion Soci­ety for Law and Pol­i­cy is a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion com­prised of lawyers, law stu­dents, schol­ars, judges, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, and oth­er con­cerned indi­vid­u­als work­ing to ensure that fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of human dig­ni­ty, indi­vid­ual rights and lib­er­ties, gen­uine equal­i­ty, and access to jus­tice enjoy their right­ful, cen­tral place in Amer­i­can law.
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Law School Fac­ul­ty iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A lit­tle bit of legal brain can­dy pre­sent­ed by the U Chica­go law fac­ul­ty.
  • Yale Law School Feed Web Site
    • Pod­casts from one of Amer­i­ca’s finest law schools. Often fea­tures speech­es by vis­it­ing speak­ers.

Stay tuned — this page will be under con­tin­u­al and active devel­op­ment. It will grow as more law schools devel­op new pod­casts.

Weekly Wrap Up — March 16

Here’s a quick sum­ma­ry of our recent pieces:

If you like what we’re doing, email your friends and tell them about Open

Has Stephen Hawking Been Wrong For The Last 30 Years?

With his cut­ting-edge research on black holes in the 1970s, Stephen Hawk­ing emerged as a major play­er in the physics world. Then, with the 1988 pub­li­ca­tion of the best­seller, A Brief His­to­ry of Time, Hawk­ing achieved inter­na­tion­al celebri­ty sta­tus.

As this BBC pre­sen­ta­tion shows, Hawk­ing’s fame might rest on weak­er foun­da­tions than most could have imag­ined. Sev­er­al impor­tant physi­cists, includ­ing Leonard Susskind here at Stan­ford (see our pre­vi­ous ref­er­ences to him), zeroed in on Hawk­ing’s major con­tention that, when black holes dis­ap­pear, they take along with them all infor­ma­tion that ever exist­ed inside them, which leads to the log­i­cal con­clu­sion that there are clear lim­its to what sci­en­tists could ever know about black holes. After 20 years of debate, the Susskind camp seems to have won out, leav­ing Hawk­ing’s lega­cy in ques­tion. This BBC web page will give you the back­sto­ry in brief, but you may want to go straight to this 50 minute video.

My Trip to Al Qaeda: A New Yorker Video

You don’t see web video like this too often… On The New York­er web site, you can now catch a video excerpt of a one-man play being staged in NYC by mag­a­zine staff writer, Lawrence Wright.  (Click here to watch.)

The New York­er pref­aces the video with this:

“This week, the New York­er staff writer Lawrence Wright opened his one-man show, “My Trip to Al-Qae­da,” at the Cul­ture Project, in New York City. Since Sep­tem­ber 11th, Wright has cov­ered Al Qae­da for the mag­a­zine; last year, he pub­lished the book “The Loom­ing Tow­er: Al-Qae­da and the Road to 9/11.” In the course of his work on the roots and the rise of Islam­ic ter­ror­ism, Wright has con­duct­ed more than six hun­dred inter­views and trav­elled to Egypt, Pak­istan, Afghanistan, Sau­di Ara­bia, and much of West­ern Europe. The play, which he wrote and per­forms, is a first-per­son account of his expe­ri­ences, and exam­ines, among oth­er themes, the ten­sion between his roles as jour­nal­ist and cit­i­zen.”

Smart Links

Here are a few good finds that we’ve recent­ly stum­bled upon:

  • 60 Min­utes Streamed on Yahoo: A nice addi­tion
    to Yahoo’s line­up, but it makes you real­ize how far behind Yahoo has
    fall­en in the web video space, and this was amaz­ing­ly the one area that Yahoo had decid­ed to
    focus on while it let Google slip away with the search space. It’s rather stun­ning that Yahoo’s CEO, Ter­ry Semel, remains in his job. By the way, you can also get 60 Min­utes seg­ments on iTunes. (iTunesFeed)
  • Load­ing Clips from YouTube and Google Video onto your Ipod: We talk a lot around here about pod­casts and web video. The links below will make it so that you can load not only pod­casts, but also video from YouTube and Google Video, onto your iPod. It’s a great way to cen­tral­ize things. (Also this arti­cle from the always help­ful Life­hack­er talks some more about this gen­er­al issue.)
  • Medi­aShift’s Pod­cast Guide: This blog affil­i­at­ed with PBS recent­ly issued a primer on pod­cast­ing. It cov­ers the fol­low­ing items: What are Pod­casts? What is the His­to­ry of Pod­cast­ing? Where to Find Pod­casts? (Why they did­n’t include Open Cul­ture’s pod­cast library here, I don’t know.) How to Become a Pod­cast­er? How to Make Mon­ey with Pod­casts?
  • Psy­chol­o­gy Pod­cast Col­lec­tion: A list of upwards to 20 pod­casts deal­ing with var­i­ous aspects of psy­chol­o­gy.
  • Mozart’s Life and Music: A free lec­ture from The Teach­ing Com­pa­ny.
  • Self Made Schol­ar: It’s a lit­tle uneven, but there are some good edu­ca­tion­al resources in the mix.

See Open Cul­ture’s Pod­cast Col­lec­tions:

Arts & Cul­tureAudio BooksFor­eign Lan­guage LessonsNews & Infor­ma­tionSci­enceTech­nol­o­gyUni­ver­si­ty (Gen­er­al)Uni­ver­si­ty (B‑School)

BondCast (AKA a James Bond Podcast)

Jamesbond_1Casi­no Royale, which gave the James Bond fran­chise a good shot in the arm, is being released this week on

DVD, and so why not men­tion a new James Bond pod­cast.

Cin­e­mat­i­cal has issued its first Bond­cast that’s filled with news, rumors, spec­u­la­tions, sto­ries and gen­er­al minu­ti­ae about all things Bond. They”ll have a new episode every two weeks, and, read­er be warned, the hosts are fair­ly over the top in their idol­iza­tion of Bond. And you may need to be as rev­er­en­tial to enjoy the ride.

The Problem with GooTube (and Inside Iran)

With YouTube and Google Video now sit­ting under the same hap­py cor­po­rate umbrel­la, you can rest assured that the world will receive only a stead­ier stream of home-brewed videos of gui­tar riffs, tread­mill dances, dorm room antics, and pet play­times, the very stuff that makes up YouTube’s all-time list of favorites. Lucky us. But some­where with­in these vast troves of videos reside some valu­able cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al con­tent. And although it will assured­ly lose the pop­u­lar­i­ty con­test that deter­mines rel­e­vance with­in the world of Web 2.0, it’s there nonethe­less, and we’re hap­py to point it out, espe­cial­ly since GooTube does­n’t do much to help on that front. Here’s a good exam­ple of what we’re talk­ing about.If you take seri­ous­ly the recent polit­i­cal talk, the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion looks to be on a col­li­sion course with Iran. And should things come to a head, you can guar­an­tee that Amer­i­cans will have next to no sense of what Iran is real­ly like as a coun­try, oth­er than what the admin­is­tra­tion has to say about it. The GooTube video below is a good cor­rec­tive to that. This 90-minute live­ly pro­gram pro­duced by the BBC takes an inside look at “one of the most mis­un­der­stood coun­tries in the world, look­ing at the coun­try through the eyes of peo­ple rarely heard — ordi­nary Ira­ni­ans.” And as it goes on to explain things, “it took a year of wran­gling to get per­mis­sion to film inside Iran but the result is an amaz­ing por­tray­al of an ener­getic and vibrant coun­try that is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent to the usu­al images seen in the media.” Take a look:

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.