Enhanced Podcast? What’s That?

“While trolling your blog I saw mention of an Enhanced Podcast. What the heck is that? It looks like it is the same thing as your regular podcast.” Those words from a friend echo the statements of the average podcast listener out there not to mention a few podcasters. Enhanced podcast as a term have been recently bantered about as a step between vidcast and podcast. Cue the record screeching. “Vidcast? Podcast? Enhanced Podcast? A gamer know not these things.” Sorry I can’t help myself when it comes to butchering a famous Yoda quote. Let’s back up a little for a brief definition of vidcast and podcast.

A podcast is an audio file composed of speech and/or music that is shared across the net. It may be in iTunes or independently on a website. It usually is joined to a blog and usually has episodes. The host or hosts discuss a topic and share their knowledge, or lack thereof, with listeners. People listen to the podcast by subscribing in iTunes or putting the RSS Feed (web address for the podcast that automatically updates with a new episode) into a program that reads it. Most commonly this is iTunes.

A vidcast is a video file composed of speech, music, and video that is shared across the net. The best example is Diggnation where two guys are seen on camera talking about the most recently popular happenings on the Digg website. A vidcast allows people to show instead of tell. You can see someone paint a model or repair a car or build a computer or cook. A podcast only lets you hear them do those activities.

An enhanced podcast is the gray area between those two. It is a special audio file that also has pictures and links to webpages in it. These pictures break the podcast up into chapters much like a book. You can click on the picture to see a larger version or click on the link to go to the associated website. This is very popular with podcasts wanting to show you pictures or give walk throughs. If I wanted to show you how to assemble a plastic tactical marine I can take pictures of each step of the way. As I describe the steps to you in the podcast you would see the corresponding picture and a link to detailed instructions for that step. Or, I can show you pictures of each new release as I talk about it along with a clickable link to buy that item.

Enough of the technical what is an enhanced podcast. Now we need to move on to why. Or, more precisely why is the CWF Game Cast doing enhanced podcasts. Each Thursday we are releasing a new podcast. That isn’t changing but from time to time we’ll turn the regular podcast into an enhanced podcast. So there will be the regular podcast and the enhanced one. The enhanced one will have those pictures and links I mentioned. Doing this lets us put more in the podcast for listeners who don’t come to our blog.

I realize in an ideal world listeners would listen to the podcast and then race to their computer where they would go to the blog and read the show notes and click all the links in the shownote. But, that doesn’t happen. Most times people listen to podcasts on the go using their mp3 players (read iPod) and don’t have a computer handy. The enhanced podcast provides the same content as the show notes directly in the iPod. I normally listen to podcasts when I’m out and about. While I go for a walk I can get through a couple episodes of my favorites. The new iPods have display screens that will show the pictures from the enhanced podcast.

We will use the enhanced podcast to show off content from time to time. For example, I am planning to do an enhanced podcast soon on the 40k Apocalypse Mega Battle that Battleground Games held beginning of January. I know that this event was already covered but there is so much content that I can do an entire 30 or 60 minutes episode on the event. I can put all the pictures in the enhanced podcast so you can see the event while I talk about it.

Additionally, if we have a lot of new releases to share there’ll likely be an enhanced version of the podcast to share all those pictures. For now the enhanced podcast is a once in a blue moon occurrence. The regular podcast will be weekly. But, someday we’ll make an enhanced version of every podcast. For the technophiles we have created a new RSS feed just for the enhanced podcast. The feed’s URL is http://feeds.feedburner.com/wargamingforums/enhanced. You can take that URL and put it directly into a podcast receiver program like Juice and start listening right away.

Before I end this article I need to state some caveats. Right now enhanced podcasts are Mac only territory. That means they only play on Mac computers, on iPods, and in Quicktime. You can use iTunes and Quicktime to listen and watch enhanced podcasts on your computers. You can only use iPods to listen to enhanced podcasts when you’re on the go. This is a big negative but I’m sure a universal enhanced podcast setup will be forthcoming. In the meantime most people use iPods as their mp3 player and every computer can run iTunes and Quicktime.

If you have any questions about enhanced podcasts please ask. I’ll do my best to answer your question. In the meantime please give our first enhanced podcast a try. It is Episode 27 CWF-2008-1-31 News, Music to Game By Featuring Matthew Ebel, Vampire Counts, and DoW Soulstorm. If you don’t have iTunes, Quicktime, a Mac, or an iPod you can still see our enhanced podcasts. They will always play directly in our blog.