(Okay, any portable media device will do, but with the market share of such devices being the Apple iPod, I can get away with that title, right?)

The first thing most people do when presented with a portable media device (besides saying Thank You) is look for ways to add music to it. Music is great, and it’s a wonderful thing to throw in there, but if you’re looking to get more done, and looking for some other uses, try these:

  • Business Card- Most of these devices now allow you to carry along files. Try adding an electronic business card, either the typical formats like vCard or an Outlook export, but also a flat text file with your name as the filename. This text file should include all the info you might want to pass someone that you meet out and about. That way, if you have no other means to share this information, it will exist on the portable media device that you might never forget at home. Ditto your resume (or CV) in .pdf format.
  • Slideshow- Do you have a presentation, a 30 second elevator pitch for your new and growing startup? Put it on your portable device as a series of JPG files. That way, even if the screen is 1.5 inches, you’ve got SOMETHING to show people your concept in visual form.
  • Audio Books- The Apple iTunes store is only one outlet, but there are plenty of Audiobook sites that can provide books in downloadable MP3 format. Listening to audio books throughout the day and during your commute will keep you up to date when you can’t afford the time to sit down and read the book in question. And sometimes, even if you’re reading the print book, the audio format can give your mind a new angle on the same material. Audio books usually cost a little less than the actual print book (but then I can’t mention libraries as a way to shift that content onto your player).
  • Podcasts – Now, this is where the fun is. Podcasts are free. There are lots of great programs out there that can help enrich your interests in a particular business, connect you with folks who practice the same crafts as you (There are something like 80 beer podcasts, for instance), and with people who share your passions. They’re fairly easy to find via podcast directories (Yahoo! has one, Podcast Alley, the list is endless). Adding podcasts to your iPod is a great way to boost the value of using your portable media player for more than just tunes.
  • Personal Reminders- Got a minute. Record your to-do list into Audacity, and burn an mp3 of it onto your player. You can even name the file nag.mp3 if you want. But it’s helpful. Burn a private RSS through FeedBurner.com and subscribe to it. You could keep your agendas on a not-publicized blog and really have an interesting record of your days in the future.
  • Business Communication- Are you a marketer or some other kind of promotions specialist? Are you a manager of a distributed team? Recording a podcast for your contacts to subscribe to gives you a media alternative to email that can be easily integrated into someone’s daily listening habits. If your contacts need up-to-the-minute information, hit them with a daily summary. If your team needs reminders as to what’s on your mind and what’s important, why not record a “Sonja’s Things to Remember” post every Monday for them to download (and later grumble about)?

I read about some venture capitalists who are now requiring people to submit their business plans in audio podcast format. They can then take the plans on a walk in the park, our to the gym to work out, and not have to sit in a static place reading about yet another great tagging / social / web2.0 site with a name that could either be a candy or a Yugi-oh character.

I’ve seen hacks for throwing maps on your iPod, as well as some hacks involving throwing a full-fledged Linux OS on there. These could be useful, too, depending on what other apps you add. There are plenty of ways to use this robust platform for more than just playing music. And if you buy a video device, all the more angles open up. What are your thoughts and hacks?  How would you add to this concept?

-Chris Brogan records podcasts and other creative content at GrasshopperFactory.com 

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