A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.
The mode of delivery differentiates podcasting from other means of accessing media files over the Internet, such as direct download, or streamed webcasting. A list of all the audio or video files currently associated with a given series is maintained centrally on the distributor's server as a web feed, and the listener or viewer employs special client application software known as a podcatcher that can access this web feed, check it for updates, and download any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically. Files are stored locally on the user's computer or other device ready for offline use, giving simple and convenient access to episodic content. Commonly used audio file formats are Ogg Vorbis and MP3.

Academics at the Community, Journalism & Communication Research group at the University of Texas at Austin in the USA are proposing a four-part definition of a podcast: A podcast is a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; programme-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed with computer software.
The term "podcasting" was first mentioned by John Ben Hammersley in The Guardian newspaper in a February 2004 article, along with other proposed names for the new medium. It is a portmanteau of the words "pod"°™derived from iPod, a brand of portable media player produced by Apple Computer (now Apple),°™and "broadcasting". The name may be misleading, as despite the etymology it has never been necessary to use an iPod, or, indeed, any other form of portable media player, to use podcasts; the content can be accessed using any computer that can play media files. Use of the term "podcast" predates the addition of native support for podcasting to the iPod, or to Apple's iTunes software. To avoid a term suggestive of "iPod", some use the term netcast instead of podcast, such as the TWiT.tv podcaster Leo Laporte. A backronym has been posited where podcast stands for "Personal On Demand broadCAST".


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