Saturday, April 01, 2006

More about Videoblogging...

I knew already when I wrote in my earlier post on this subject that I had at best just begun to scratch the surface of this new trend in media-rich blogging. It has since come as no surprise upon further research to discover that in fact I had barely begun to disturb the dust ON the surface — if that — so I’d now like to proceed to at least make the shallowest of scratches if I can.

Even a casual google search will immediately turn up at least three names associated with this practice:

  • Videoblogging seems to be the most common term for the practice itself;
  • and the resulting blogs seem to be referred to primarily as Vlogs
  • though at least one guy calls them Vogs

There appear to be several on-line tutorials to adding videos to your blog: Freevlog provides a nice friendly guide that contains instructions even for a blogspot-hosted blog (though you need a third-party site to store the media, about which more below), and there is another Blogspot-oriented tutorial here. Freevlog’s apologia for vlogs is persuasive:

A vlog is a videoblog and you want one because, let's face it, they're not going to put you on TV. Besides, not playing that game is what makes this so much fun. You can do whatever you want. has its own introduction, with a nice neat definition:

What is Videoblogging?

Videoblogging is a new form of expression centering around posting videos to a website and encouraging an audience response. It is the next step from text blogging and podcasting.

Wikipedia’s article on vlogs makes particularly interesting reading (I shamelessly cull much of its introductory content):

With development of RSS enclosures, which provide the ability to attach media files to a feed item/blog post, or the use of the Atom format (which supports rich media content by design) it is possible to bypass the mainstream intermediaries and openly distribute media to the masses via the Internet. Vlogs typically take advantage of this technological development, just as audioblogs have in recent years via the podcast boom.

As of 2006, videoblogging is rising in popularity, especially since the release of the new Apple Video iPod and the availability of iTunes Store's video content. iTunes uses the term video podcast to describe a video blog.

One of the potential problems with Vlogs is the current inability of search engines to create rich metadata or "search engine" data from the stream. For Vlogs to be fully embraced as part of web culture, some indexing solution will need to emerge.

I had a brief moment of gratification in reading “As of 2006” — since that way I could feel I’m not that far behind the curve, but this article was written in January of 2005, and this MSN article is from last March, so I guess this wiki article author is behind the curve right along with me.

Of course as one would expect, someone at MITSomeone at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has a blog devoted to the subject of (what they call) Vogs. (Catty bitchy moment: this particular scholar seems unduly attached to the word “quotidian” — it not only showed up in a casual persual of the blog in the title of a recent post, but appears in his blog’s nearly unintelligible (though, I’m sure, studiedly so) subheading: “Documentating and discussing the problem making that is video blogging (vogging) with the tiresome quotidian of the desktop digital.” If I were to be a completely tiresome pedant — well, since I am one — I would feel obligated to correct “problem making” to “problem-making” and to ask him what he is trying to accomplish by using “quotidian” as a noun. I mean, I’m all for affectations and for completely unnecessary uses of Latin, but this is just a little too twee even for me.)

In addition, the wiki article cited above has a link to an interesting (though thickly-written) paper by a certain Adrian Miles entitled “Media Rich versus Rich Media (or why video in a blog is not the same as a video blog)” If you ask him, he’ll tell you it’s because of the granularity. Hum.

Anyway, both Miles and the author of the MIT blog I mentioned claim to have been tracking this trend since 2000. Which I find particularly remarkable since I don’t think blogging entered the public consciousness at all until after 2000, and online videos were much more painful to download back then than they are now when many more people have broadband. Nonetheless, the Wiki article on blogs says that they date back to 1994. News to me. The internet itself barely existed on the radar screen of even my colleagues in the software industry back then.

Another site I stumbled across is Social Software, which amazes me by telling me that my TiVo has started offering videoblog content. That’s going to be cool, especially if and when the new standalone (non-satellite-based) HD Tivo that they just showed at CES ever comes out this year. (I still haven’t hooked up my PC to my new HDTV and the Comcast PVR is just unbearable…)

More: VideoBlogging Universe has a directory of vlogs, and there appear to be several online content-storage repositories for uploading your videos, beyond YouTube, which I mentioned earlier: for instance, OurMedia,, and Google Video (kindly brought to my attention by my friend and colleague Margaret in her comments to my earlier posting). I have been very impressed with the rich social interactivity on YouTube (though an awful lot of the comments are pretty brain-dead); OurMedia certainly seems to be going for the same kind of social network. I haven’t really looked into or Google Video enough to judge yet.

All of the content-storage sites have the same disclaimer, warning you not to upload copyrighted content. So far that seems to be getting more or less completely ignored — as best as I can tell, with impunity — although at least the clips in question are pretty short. Plus, much of the time, the clips are uploaded with some sort of commentary (even if the title is the only source of commentary), so the clips can almost be considered “quotations” of a sort.

But there is some genuinely original content, ranging from the abysmally amateur to some stuff that approaches the professional. Much of the content seems almost seems to be a kind of amateur, wannabe “Reality TV” (I suspect that this is what the Vodka-drinking video I linked to below is all about). We live in an age, of course, of self-expression and exhibitionism where personal secrets are broadcast to millions all the time: that’s been going on for the better part of two decades or more, going back at least to daytime talk TV such as Jerry Springer where the “white trash” of the week aired their dirty laundry for a chance at their 15 minutes of fame (“you kaint marry him, Char-Leene; he’s your half brother!”). People have been sending their Stupid Pet Trick and Stupid Human Trick videos to play on mainstream TV for years, and ever since the so-called “Reality” TV craze began (no matter how contrived the “reality” is), it has provided us with a steady stream of voyeuristic opportunities.

It’s not all “The Me Show”, though. There is genuinely original content. Ranging from the exclusively original, such The Jib Jab Bush and Kerry video (“This Land”) that made the rounds just before the election (they have a new one, recaping Dubbya’s 2005), to the satirically altered video such as Tom Cruise killing Oprah with Dark Force Lightning (a favourite).

Well, that’s all I have for this posting. I do have more coming on some of the broader issues, as I hinted at in my update to my earlier posting, so stay tuned!

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Track with co.mments
At Wed Apr 05, 06:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Adrian Miles said...

hi, I'm the Adrian Miles you mention. :-)

It is RMIT (that's the pedant in me), not MIT, and you can find *some* of my essays on video blogging at, though there are some others still awaiting publication. My videoblog started in November 2000, is at but I've since migrated that to the current blog. Yes, I am fond of 'quotidian', does a lot of work for me since it includes many qualities I attribute to blogs and to the sort of video practice that seems appropriate to video blogging (I am developing a subject called quotidian media that is about all of these day to day, off the shelf, 'amaetur' media). As to problem making or problem-making, in design theory the former would be acceptable, the latter awkward - different disciplines, different argots.


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