Searching for Audio and Video Files

Streaming media

  • The number of audio and video offerings on the Web has skyrocketed in the past few years.
  • The widespread availablity of broadband connections has mad it much easier to view video and listen to audio files
  • In some cases you can download an audio or video file to save the files on your computer of other digital device
  • Many audio and video files are available using streaming media technology, which means that you can listen or view files without downloading the files to your computer

Software requirements

  • All modern computers have the necessary hardware - audio and graphics cards - to deal with the audio and video you'll find on the Web
  • You may need to download some software, plug-ins or a player, but most modern computers and browsers have the software already installed.
  • If your computer has a player installed, accessing a file that requires it will activate it.
  • If the required software is not on your computer, a dialog box may pop up with an option to download it,
  • If you find a file not supported by your computer, there may be a link on the Web page to a free download of the required player
  • Some plug-ins are free of charge, and others require purchase.
  • The following are some of the more popular plug-ins that you'll need in order to use multimedia files. They all have a version you can download and use at no charge:
  1. QuickTime, a player for video and some audio files,
  2. RealPlayer, a player for most multimedia formats,
  3. Windows Media Player, a player for both audio and video files,
  4. Adobe Flash, a plug-in that allows interactive or animated Web pages,
  5. Adobe Shockwave, similar to Flash, Shockwave creates rich graphics for multimedia like games and animations,
  6. iTunes, a player for audio, video, and podcasts,

Searching for Audio

  • Audio files, including music, radio shows, speeches, sound effects, podcasts, and others, are sometimes not found easily by using general search engines; The files may be embedded in Web pages
  • A good idea is to find them using specialized databases dedicated to audio.
  • Radio
  1. Radio-Locator, This site includes searching capabilities to search by city, country, or call letters. Listening to radio stations is a way to keep up with news and local culture from different part of the US or around the world. The radio stations often stream a live broadcast, so it is best to have a high-speed connection.
  • Music
  1. iTunes,
  2. Pandora, http://www.pandora/com
  3. Yahoo! Music,
  • Sounds - All Sorts of Audio
  1. Find Sounds,

Searching for Podcasts

  • Formed from the name of Apple's portable digital player, the iPod, and the word "broadcast," the term podcast refers to a digital recording that can be downloaded to a computer or some other digital device.
  • Podcasts can be audio or video files, and all sorts of evens can be made into podcasts.
  • This includes audio language classes, university lectures, radio programs, interviews and speeches, audio books, and entertainment. Most of them are free.
  • A wide variety of items are available as podcasts, in part because it is too hard to learn how to produce a podcast and make it available on the Internet.
  • Podcasts are distrubuted using RSS technology, so you can subscribe to them if they are part of a series.
  • To listen to a podcast all you need is an MP3 player on your computer or digital device.
  • If it is a video podcast then you'' need to have some sort of media player installed to view it.
  • Many podcasts follow a regular publishing schedule, just as we expect from many media broadcasts. That way you can track the podcasts, select the ones to listen to, and usually see a brief summary of what a particular show of podcast is about.
  • To subscribe to a podcast you need to download the necessary software.
  • The software is called an aggregator or podcatcher.
  • The two most popular of these are Juice, http://juicereceiver, and iTunes,
  • The site Podcatcher Matrix provides a comparison of iTunes and Juice, see [[* Juice is an open source project with versions available for Mac OS X and Windows, and the people at Juice are working on a version for Linux.* iTunes is supported by Apple; the iTunes Store has an extensive, searchable collection of podcasts, which are relatively easy to locate, subscribe to, and play all in iTunes.* Even though you use the iTunes store, there is no charge for most podcasts* When you "catch" a podcast, you are subscribing to an RSS feed; that means you'll be giving a URL to the podcatcher or aggregator to represent the podcast. Then the aggregator contacts the site that hosts the feed, you get a list of episodes or podcasts to listen to and review, and the aggregator software keeps the list of podcasts up to date.* For example, the URL for the podcast the NPR Business Story of the Day is

Finding Podcasts

  • You'll find podcasts on most sites that deal in broadcasts; for exammple, NPR, BBC, and CNN each have a portion of their site dedicated to podcasts.
  • If you already know who produced the podcast you want, just go to that site.
  • The next place to look are search engines or search tools that specialize in podcasts. There are three types of tools:
  1. PodcastAlley,
  2. Podcast Pickle,

Searching for Video

  • Just like audio, video files are on the Web in streaming and downloadable formats.
  • User-generated videos and commercially produced videos, such as television shows and films (either free of for a fee), are available through a variety of sites. Here is a list of a few of those sites:
  2. Google Video,
  3. Hulu,
  4. Internet Archive Moving Images,
  5. Youtube,

Searching for Images

  • Images, like information in other media, are available in general and specialized collections.
  • It may be that there are many types of image collections and databases on the Web because people have been collecting images on specific topics long before the creation of the Internet.
  • Furthermore, many of these image collections exist at academic or research institutions.
  • For example, if you're looking for botanical images, simply do a search in a major search engine such as Googl using the words botany image database and you'll find several collections including the CSU Stanislaus Botanical Image Database (, and the Plant Image Collection, biology Division, Smithsonian Institution, ( The Web site Digital Librarian: Images, (, maintained by Margaret Vail Anderson, has a huge list of image collections.
  • Most of the major search engines have image databases, the largest collections provided by Yahoo!., Google,, and Bing,
  • These search tools provide a way to search for images quite easily, but the search is usually on the metadata associated with each image.
  • The search engines have different options when searching. For most you can specify filters or choices for the size of the image, the file type, and the predominant color.
  • In addition to the special collections and the major search engines, here are a few other image databases:
  1. Corbis,, has a large databse of professional produced images suitable for advertising. It has several useful filters and features that let you save a collection of images as well as look at other related images taken in the same photo session.
  2. Exalead Image Search,, has a clean interface to searching with several useful filters
  3. Getty Images,, one of the worldwide leaders of providing digital images and video. Many stock photos of celebrities and news events.
  4. Imagery,, offers and improved interface to Google images.
  5. PicSearch,, has a databse of over three billion images and is family friendly by default
  6. Pixsy,, searches photo-sharing sites and stock images sites, with several useful filters

Searching Shared Image Databases

  • Flickr is the most popular user-generated image database. After a simple registration process, you may upload photos in files on your computer/device to Flickr into what Flickr calls your photostream.
  • The images can be shared with others or kept private.
  • You can reserve all rights on your images, as in traditional copyright, or you can reserve some of no rights using a Creative Commons license.
  • Flickr encourages community built on images in several ways:
  1. facilitating Flickr groups based on certain types of images or topics
  2. permitting comments on all public photos
  3. by encouraging users to tag their images with information about subject, location, keywords, and so on
  • The members of Flickr provide some of the metadata for each image.
  • You can search for photos by descriptive information or by tags.
  • Several substantial public collections of photographs and images have put their items in a section of the Flickr site called The Commons, Collections available include those of the Smithsonian institution, the State Library of New South Wales, Bibliotheque de Toulouse, and many others. The Commons is searchable by description or by tags. Registered Flickr members are encouraged to tage the photos in The Commons.
  • Encouraging Creative Commons licenses, Flickr lets you search for images based on the type of reuse permitted by the Creative commons license.

Searching for Maps and Satellite Images

  • Searching for locations using maps can be very exact.
  • You can enter an address or the latitude and longitude of a location.
  • You can also look for businesses or attractions by descriptive terms

Map & Satellite Services Through Your Browser

  • Here are some map services you can use through your browser. They all have a zoom capability and you can pan across a map by moving the mouse cursor.
  • Maps and directions can be printed or shared with others via email or URLs.
  1. MapQuest,
  2. Bing Maps,
  3. Google Maps,

Stand-alone Map & Satellite Services

  • The two major services in this category are Google Earth,, and NASA World Wind,
  • Google Earth has many more options and features
  • Google Earth provides a virtual globe, a worldview that you can search by location or attraction or even through tours that you or others have put together. When you visit a location, it is as if you are viewing the location from space. You can change the viewing altitude or angle


Hartman, K. and Ackerman, E. (2010). Searching and researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web. Sherwood, OR: Franklin, Beedle & Associates.

November, A. (2008) Web literacy for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.