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Is Vlogging the Future of Do-It-Yourself Media?

Well, it took up all of my blogging time for today (and then some), but I finished my first video blog (vlog). Perhaps ironically, it is not optimistic about the immediate future of vlogging. Click the picture for the broadband version; click here for a (pretty bad) lofi version; and see the transcript below for all relevant links.


Is video blogging, or vlogging, the next wave in do-it-yourself media? Regular ol' blogs are in the process of revolutionizing the way in which news and information spread and expanding the field of opinion and analysis to include anybody with an Internet connection and the desire to offer up their two cents.

Glenn Reynolds, perhaps better known as Instapundit, thinks that blogs will begin moving away from text-only; he says: "I think that falling prices for storage, bandwidth, and digital cameras will result in weblogs going multimedia over the next year."

If Mr. Reynolds means that bloggers will increasingly include photos and other graphics as well as links to audio and video files when they are relevant and available, I'd agree. Jeff Jarvis, the first known video blogger, goes a step further in his expectations for video blogs:

In his review of the year in blogging, Glenn Reynolds sees a future in what you're watching right now — call it multimedia blogging; call it vlogging — and also in mobile mob blogging.

I agree that the possibilities of adding video with commentary and sound effects are intriguing, and I'd be glad to get some use out of my old demo tapes and my MIDI set-up for background music, as I did for the intro to this clip. However, the two most important attributes of blogs are absent in video. First of all, video can't link to other Web sites, yet. Mr. Jarvis works around this problem by including his links in text outside of the video.

The second problem is that video isn't easy to quote. Because he embedded his video in a Web page, I had to go into Mr. Jarvis's HTML to access the file. I then had to process it through two different programs to get around software limitations. And even now, I don't know how copyrights might differ for video from text. I'm sure Mr. Jarvis will let me slide, but I'd be wary of "borrowing" online video from the major media sources from which bloggers get most of their content. So would-be vloggers might be limited to video that they own or have taken themselves. Here I am in a high school play. Yikes! And what about people who want to quote a vlog? I had to type out Mr. Jarvis's clip for a transcript that I felt obliged to provide both for links and for quoting. It's much easier to cut and paste text.

Add to these problems questions of equipment costs, added work (done for free), and even bloggers' desire to appear in videos. For vlogging to truly become the next stage of blogging, prices will have to be lower and bandwidth will have to be higher. Some of the technology is still in its infancy. For example, perhaps a TiVo-type device might broaden the field of content that bloggers can utilize, but — beyond expense — the television is still discrete from the computer. And you can bet the big TV companies will seek to limit such usage of their product.

For the foreseeable future, I think content-rich blogs will be about as far as do-it-yourself pundits will go. Let some corporate Web site cover the hosting bill for video; I can provide a link for free, and much more quickly. As for vlogging, I think it'll be limited to the cyber-elite... or to bloggers who convince their long-distance mothers to help cover the costs of a Grandchild Cam.

Jeff Jarvis has replied, kindly linking to this entry. I do believe that the basic technology is only a few years away; however, the necessary cultural changes will likely be part of a looming battle with Big Media, as it attempts to keep ahold of such liberating technology. In his entry, Mr. Jarvis refers to the tax-and-spend government types facilitating vlogging by devoting public funds to technology buildout. We'll see if they don't, simultaneously, decrease the usefulness of that technology by continuing to favor the content oligarchists.

Glenn Reynolds, meanwhile, makes a great point about vlogging's rate of growth. For the record, I left a comment to this post on Mr. Jarvis's site on Monday decrying the fact that he had beaten me to video blogging only because I had to wait until Christmas for all of the equipment and software. A cynic might suggest that I am skeptical about vlogging only because, if it catches on, I'll be like all of those forgotten souls who came up with a history-making invention or discovery just a day too late to beat the now-famous contemporary to the patent office.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 08:45 PM EST


Good article, but one thing I don't think you've mentioned is the fact that vlogging is simply to time consuming to catch on. I talk about this on my own site here:

Alex Knapp @ 12/27/2002 12:34 AM EST

Quite impressive -- very good quality, and clever use of graphics/inserts. Re: content -- very valid points that you raise. My take on vlogging: only for ultra-hotties or those who offer something very unique in terms of delivery (think Naked News) -- someone who delivers "news" or other content in either form or style that is simply too beautiful/bizarre to ignore.

DavidMSC @ 12/27/2002 02:12 AM EST


Thanks. I considered the naked news angle, but I decided that might go beyond too bizarre to ignore — likely being just too bizarre.

Justin Katz @ 12/27/2002 07:25 AM EST