Before I get into the third part (of four) of podcasting, allow me to do some shameless self promotion and tell you that UC Davis has created a transcript of my September interview with Greg Clark about his book A Farewell to Alms (Princeton, 2007). This is the first time a show of mine has been transcribed into English, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

OK, your gear is sorted out and you have an edited audio file. In this part, I’ll talk about the mp3 vs. AAC formats, as well as some basics on storage and bandwidth. More after the jump.


Almost all podcasts are mp3 files. The compression makes them manageable and, since it is an open format, it plays on just about anything. For my show and the Yale show, I create both mp3 and AAC versions. AAC allows a podcaster to use software called Chapter Tool to add weblinks, cover art and chapters for easier navigation. So, if you go to iTunes and look for my show, The Invisible Hand, two versions appear, audio only and enhanced (the AAC file, which ends in the extension .m4b) I divided my enhanced show up by questions. Enhancements can be very cool, though if you go to crazy on the bells and whistles (see me in the summer of 2006. All of my Summer Series 2006 shows had WAY too many things going on), it can increase the size of the file. The other down side is that AAC/m4b files can only be played on Apple software, though it can be a Windows OS.

Once your file is complete, do yourself a favor and open it in iTunes, highlight it and hit Command+I. This is where you can add metadata about your show, as well as cover art. Metadata will be even more important as the semantic web rolls out, and cover art is critical for iTunes to consider featuring a show, as well as the fact that most Apple products are now scrolling by visuals.

There are a ton of server companies out there, and, like Ephblog, I use pair.com. I find their prices on both storage and bandwidth quite reasonable and their customer service very helpful. Be aware, however, that once you go over your alloted bandwidth, you will be paying noticeably higher prices for the additional amount.

One last point. I kind of casually dismissed podcast books in the comments section of Part 1 of this series, which, in retrospect, isn’t quite fair. The key thing to take from the books is the feed writing, which will be the subject of the next/last post, but they are also good to fill in the blanks from my brief overview here. What I was really trying to say is that I doubt there is much substantive difference among the books or that they have much merit in helping you decide about your show’s content. Pick the book you seem most comfortable with, and, if you get to a point that is a little vague, contact me and I will try to help.

As always, I will answer any questions in the comments section.

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