The Italian Almanac

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happy iPod

Italian News - November 9

Inspired by Vatican documents that called on Church officials to exploit the full potentials of the computer age, the Holy See's official broadcaster, Vatican Radio, is "podcasting" audio content to any of the world's one billion plus Catholics who own a portable MP3 player. The service, launched with little fanfare during the summer, has proved unexpectedly popular.

Podcasting is a term that refers to an automated way of making audio files, such as radio shows, available for download over the Internet. It gives broadcasters a new and highly flexible distribution method as users can save the file on their player and then listen to it whenever and wherever they prefer - for instance, while travelling on an underground train.

Often accused of being old fashioned, the Vatican is an early adapter when it comes to this relatively new technology. Vatican Radio at the forefront. "Godcasting", "iGod" and "podpreachers" are just some of the terms circulating on the Internet and used to describe its usage in the world of religion.

Vatican Radio began its podcasting service in mid-August by making available for download an interview given to Polish television in which Pope Benedict remembers his predecessor, John Paul II. Initially available only in Italian, the interview became one of the most downloaded podcasts in Italy.