June 26, 2005

Welcome to The Vlogosphere

It is different here. I'm dipping in my toe, have been since December.. and really, I've only made one vlog post myself. I learn both from watching others and doing this myself. The read/write nature of video is very very different than text or the genre of blogging.

What's interesting to me is how I'm now discovering the vlogosphere as I once did with the blogosphere about four years ago.. back when there were maybe 100k blogs... I had no idea what I was looking at because it was all mysterious then: the format, the linking, blogrolls, and the people, online trust and references. There were nuggets of magic, people who came through asynchronously to share and converse both information and points of view that were personal, passionate, deeply held and often far more expert and full of breadth than legacy media. I was taken, I knew there was something there.. but I couldn't figure it out until I started blogging at bIPlog and realized the linking was creating many trails of conversation; it was writers following those links, extending the conversation still further, that was making something totally new and exciting and relevant. Yes there were and are diarists, essayists, as well as others who put out bad information, and so I'm speaking here of those who blog about topics in a conversational way only. A blog is a tool as we've said a million times.. so let's not go back to that old skirmish. The point is, there are some kinds of blogs that create a conversation in blogging, through discussion and links and comments and still more posts, that are compelling, and give free speech a big push over the old analog world. Fast forward through four years of arguing the stupidity of blogging verses journalism because we don't need to go through that again either. We know they are complimentary and different, and need each other to survive.

But now.. vlogging as a low-transaction cost production medium, with reasonable bandwidth and storage costs, and vloggers with time and interest are creating a new kind of story telling that is very different than the text blog entries I can search, skim and remix aggregated by various services like Technorati, Feedster, Pubsub and Blogpulse. Vlog-posts are little movies, or a post wrapped around a little movie. One cannot link from within a movie, but one can reference, remix, explore. I know at last count there was a directory of vloggers that listed about 200 of them. So it's small now, but considering the power of video and the time it takes to make vlog-posts.. it's a pretty good start. I also thing there are probably many more folks online making video.. that aren't included there.

The ways we determine conversation in vlogs will be more along the lines of visual and aural references. Even if we had a transcript to search them, we would not get context or what is shown visually or in the sound beyond the words, nor would we get the references from one piece to the next, as we can now mouse over a text blog's links to see intended references. Vlog references must be viewed in order to see them. So conversation in media, just like in the analog world, for now, will not be tracked by counting hypertext links or key words. It will be different, and I wonder how we will show those vlog-posts conversing or remixing media in meaningful ways.

As I discover vloggers, get to know their work, see what they are thinking about as they explore and forge ahead with their vlogging work, I find myself presented with similar sensations of discovery and mystery as I did when I first was discovering blogs. And yet, because it is a video medium, the experience is different, I'm making the references between their pieces and the referenced subjects in my mind, I'm taken into a story that is not skimmable but rather gives me sound and visual narrative as a complete picture, where I see clips that may quote from others, but are no different in presentations from any of the other clips that may not be quoted. This kind of recognition was something I did in my early days of blog reading, making connections. But it was easy for all those aggregation services to make the connections for me, as they counted up links and made searchable key words in the texts. But who will be the Technorati or Pubsub of vlogging? What will we do with this medium to transform it from an industrial art that cannot be recognized computationally except by humans?

It's a whole other kind of media literacy, of understanding digital sharing of borrowed work, of seeing what remix and re-expression is about. This is true both for us, as viewers and makers of video, and for the computers we want to aid us in searching and discovering video and video conversation.

I also wonder, will broadcast and narrative legacy video producers claim that vloggers aren't 'real' in the same ways journalists have about bloggers? Or will we have learned enough to get past that to the much more interesting question of where the relationships between the top down and bottom up content with lie and how they might get on .. whether and when it will be complementary or contradictory?

Posted by Mary Hodder at June 26, 2005 03:45 PM | TrackBack

Blogging quickly became a read/write medium. This was in contrast to most web sites and the legacy media. Comments were the gateway drug until you started your own blog.

I wonder if audio comments will be the gateway drug for vlogging...

The alternative is a thoroughly passive medium. Better than TV in that I'll have 8 million vlog posts to watch on demand, but it's still just another "the channel you created to watch" and not a conversation.

I'm less likely to watch vlogs if it's a one-way medium.

There's another barrier to vlog watching.

Unlike text, which is easily skimmed and navigated, video is linear and sucks up my time 1:1. Clarifying, it may have taken you 30 minutes to write/edit a blog post I can read in 1 minute. But I have to watch/listen to all 30 minutes of a vlog/podcast. There's no dramatic compression of information or time. The offset? Sensory involvement; visual context; mapping of ideas to visuals of places and faces and body language; the small cues that help us decide if we like or trust someone; sound and ambience.

I'm curious to see if vloggers conjure the equivalent of a blog post, a chunk about one topic with a permalink. Making it easier to surf from idea to idea, to skip to the next chunk, to hyperlink related vlunks. It's a different authoring approach than letting the camera roll. Maybe we can do this in post production? (pardon the pun)

All the best.

Posted by: Phil Wolff at June 28, 2005 06:20 AM

Nice post, Mary. I'd like to suggest that you may find the answers to many of your questions (and, pardon me, your misconceptions too) in the Yahoo Videoblogging Group.


For example, you will find that it IS possible to link from within some videos. Also, there are a lot more than 200 vlogs (here are over 900 members in the YVBG alone and we are growing at a rate of over 2 new members every day).

Raymond at http://dltq.blogs.com is carrying our some experiments using video, text, images and podcasting that you may find interesting.

There are already pleanty of folks comparing vidoblogs to TV and wondering what the definition of a "vlog" is. Micheal Verdi posted some interesting comments on this yesterday: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging/message/15082

To me, comparing video to audio or text is like comparing different color paints on a palette. I choose the ones that best suit my needs at that moment.

Please do come on by and check out our group; you may find it a little unusual (I like to think special). Find out about videoblogging week 2005, twice-weekly video conferences, the San Francisco vlogger meetup on June 30th, our upcoming Vloggercue events on July 9th, the after BlogHer vlogger meetup on July 30th and, of course, vloggercon2006.

Come join in our celebration of the Summer of Vlog.

Take the plunge! There is something special waiting for you when you do.

P.S. I'll invite a bunch over to say hello.

Posted by: Markus Sandy at June 28, 2005 10:12 PM


I guess you just forgot...

Posted by: paul at June 29, 2005 04:26 AM

since you came to vloggercon....come to the first Vloggercue.
(its the "summer of vlog")
all are invited...just sign up.

great post Mary. very well said.
I think the good videos will be short and to the point. We will use an aggregators (http://getFireANT.net) to download and make videos skippable.

Tags will be important.
Certain people will tag the good videos.
They will be filters.
We will then subscribe to these tags.
ill just have to watch 30 minutes of the best video.

Posted by: jay dedman at June 30, 2005 02:51 PM

I see Jay and Markus have beat me to the punch in welcoming you to the vlogosphere. I have the advantage though in having been able to enjoy all the media you've been posting first. It's great to see someone really reaching out to and creating media of both the audio and video variety on some of the more acedmenic issues with some of the leading lights in the blogosphere.

Welcome, and I look forward to hearing much more from you and hopefully corresponding with you in the future.

BTW, if i can be of any technical assistance at all let me know. It looks like you could use an RSS 2.0 feed that supports enclosures. May I recommend feedburner.com?

BTW, I love the "human detector" on posts it's brilliant.


-Mike of mmeiser.com/blog

Posted by: Michael Meiser at July 22, 2005 03:35 PM