March 06, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: "Podcasting Hacks"

Jack Herrington's "Podcasting Hacks" (O'Reilly) is an excellent collection of tips, tricks, and explanations about making, publishing, and enjoying podcasts.

Although the book is primarily aimed at people who are creating podcasts, it also contains some info on the tools and techniques for finding and listening to them.

The O'Reilly "Hacks" books are structured as a series of specific projects, "hacks", that you can implement, but most every hack also includes a valuable explanation of the technology or expertise it uses.

The hacks in this book fall into both technical and non-tech categories. There's plenty on microphones, mixers and mp3 files. But also a lot on interviewing, blogging and getting publicity for your 'cast.

The book's first Chapter is the only one specifically for podcast listeners. It talks about sites and directories for finding the podcasts that are of interest to you. It also describes systems for downloading them, and the software for listening. Although the chapter contains much good info, it seems a bit out of place to me, in a book which is mostly of interest to people already looking to produce podcasts.

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are "Starting Out", "Quality Sound", and "Formats". They dive into the gear and technology of recording and producing your podcasts.

Chapter 5 "Interviewing", and 7 "Publicity", tell about how to collect valuable and useful content, and how to get the word out to your potential audience.

Chapter 6 "Blogging" covers how to use a blog to publicize and distribute your podcast. It covers the most popular blogging systems like Movable Type, WordPress, Drupal and others. It covers using an existing blog, or setting up a new one. Also creating and managing the all-important RSS feed for your podcast. It also talks about internet hosting services which specialize in providing online storage and bandwidth for podcasts, which, because they are larger-sized files, can be a burden on traditional hosting arrangements.

Chapters 8 & 9, "Basic Editing" and "Advanced Audio", expand upon the post-production and audio tech material already covered. And Chapter 10 "On the Go" talks about recording podcasts out in the field.

"Podcasting Hacks" was first published in 2005, before the boom in video on the net, so it is short on info for video-podcasters. Though much of the discussion on interviewing, distribution, publicity, and hosting are directly applicable to video 'casts. Chapter 10 "Videoblogging" touches briefly on what was then an infant medium.

All in all, "Podcasting Hacks" a very useful and informative book, for both new and experienced podcasters.

"Podcasting Hacks", by Jack Herrington, 453 pages, softcover, US$24.95

06 Mar 2007 06:25 PM | Send comments to
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