Why didn't I think of that?!: Unique uses for podcasting

Podcasting, as the name implies, lets you view the audio component of websites in mp3 format on your iPod. It was created by MTV VJ Adam Curry, it’s sort of like TiVo, except it’s free. You can record and store the program, then listen to it when you’re ready.

Initially podcasting was used for radio shows. Fans had already gotten used to downloading this content from websites, but thanks to this technology, you don’t even have to go to a specific website. But now you’ve got people broadcasting books, sports trivia and history (and of course, the blow by blow account of the game you missed), celebrity interviews, religious or inspirational “pep talks”, behind-the-scenes of your favourite movies, and health and exercise tips.

Some podcasts are very specific, for a small niche but nevertheless extremely useful.

Some podcasts are a little quirky, but fun. One claims to have the lofty goal of preserving “a million time capsules of sound” where each podcast is supposed to represent the meat of that day’s big events. Another is the equivalent of global brainstorming: he sounds off a unique idea, and invites other people to speak up and say why it would or wouldn’t work. One podcast run by a Zen Buddhist practitioner lets you start the day with a quote or sermon that will let you start your day on the right path towards Enlightenment. Sitting in a lotus position while listening to it is completely optional.

Some podcasts are service-driven. For example, travellers can get audio tours of a chosen city (including instructions on how to get to little-known restaurants and quirky destinations). Medical students can subscribe to lists and charts of the various things they need to memorize, which they can play over and over again to help them in their study efforts, or listen to when they’re stuck on a midnight shift in the hospital. (A similar service are language podcasts that let you learn anything from French to Filipino, or those run by TOEFL to help those who are trying to master English for entrance examinations.)

Podcasts can also give you dating and relationship advice, but including romantic lines that you can use on her at your dinner date this evening. Others give walkthroughs of popular video games, while still others stream a recipe that you can cook tonight (this is extremely useful for people on the go, so you can make a quick stop by the grocery for missing ingredients before heading home).

There are podcasts for military wives or any person who is temporarily living in an unfamiliar country or city, with services like a dictionary where you learn a new word a day, and get a background on the culture or customs of the region.

You’ll also get podcasts for financial news and advice, with experts telling you what the investment climate is for today, and allowing busy people to make fast financial decisions. These will also be the same people who would benefit from podcasts on Management training – mini lectures or tips on various aspects of running a business or company. Think of it as an MBA in your mobile device.