Podcasts and Downloadable Video

Technology Description

A podcast is a digital recording of audio or video content which is distributed over the Internet by a syndicated download to portable media players and personal computers. A podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be

  • Syndicated
  • Subscribed to (typically using RSS)
  • Downloaded automatically when new content is available

Podcasts can be used for

  • Self-guided tours
  • Music
  • Talk shows
  • Training
  • Lectures

Downloadable multimedia is content that can be downloaded directly from a website to personal computers and other devices. It differs from podcasts in that users cannot subscribe to obtain new content and it is not syndicated. It can be created using a variety of different tools and then posted to institutional or personal websites for download and viewing. Several popular sites for downloadable multimedia include:

Archival Applications

Podcasting has a number of archival applications. Archivists can utilize podcasting to:

  • Introduce users to our institutions and the rules and regulations associated with use of our collections
  • Provide tutorials on how to utilize our collections
  • Distribute lectures highlighting our collections
  • Guide users through our physical and virtual exhibits
  • Promote our collections through:
    • Interviews with users
    • Highlighting important collections
    • Announcing the availability of newly acquired content

Downloadable multimedia offers many of the same opportunities as podcasting. It is best suited for static content that will not change much.

Case Studies in Archival Applications

Michael A. Church, “Archives to Earbuds: Podcasting Digital Collections at the Kansas Historical Society”

Polina Ilieva, “From Vault to User’s Screen: Using Video-casting and Video-sharing Technologies for Universal Access, Outreach, and Publicity for the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library Multimedia Collection”


Some individuals and institutions are developing audio and video podcasts, as well as making content available through hosted video services. Below is a sampling of some of these projects. For an extended list, check our implementation listing at Delicious.com for podcasts, video podcasts, and streaming video.

If you are developing a podcast or video sharing presence and would like to appear in the list, send a bookmark in Delicious.com using the tag for:interactivearchivist.


Podcasting Tools. “Podcasting Tools: Resource for Podcasting.” Podcasting Tools. http://www.podcasting-tools.com/ (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

NotePage, Inc. “RSS Specifications: Everything You Need to Know About RSS.” NotePage, Inc. http://www.rss-specifications.com/podcast-tools.htm (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Wikipedia. “Podcast.” Wikimedia Foundation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Wikipedia. “Video Podcast.” Wikimedia Foundation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_podcast (accessed Apr. 24, 2009).

Wikipedia. “YouTube.” Wikimedia Foundation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube (accessed Apr. 24, 2009).