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Saturday, December 28, 2002

Blogging with video has been given an awkward name, "vlogging", by Jeff Jarvis; his "vlog" consists of video clips where he talks into the camera about WTC and Christmas. Another video-blogging site is Tropisms, a "videolog on the internet" featuring video snapshots taken during the creator's travels in South America. Some bloggers seem to think Jarvis is the first video blogger, but Aisling started before Jarvis, and Phillip had his short-lived Day 2 Day project before Aisling.

A Google search for "vlogging" reveals that bloggers are divided on whether video blogging makes sense. My problem with Jarvis and his "vlogging" is that his notion of video-based blogging is too narrow in terms of both content and form. He says that "bloggers compete with pundits because what we do have is opinions". Some weblogs are indeed about punditry of the sort Jarvis represents. But other weblogs are closer to personal diaries, link farms, research journals, short fiction collections. Video blogging would be a very different activity in those contexts. Jarvis also limits his video clips to talking-head shots. Aside from being boring visually, the idea of appearing on video to talk may run counter to a blogger's impulse to shape and share one's identity and voice through a non-visual medium like text. And there's the ol' videophone problem: you may not feel comfortable talking on the phone (or "vlogging") while dressed inappropriately, or not dressed at all, and who needs that?

I think video blogging could be attractive to more than just the wannabe-TV-pundits that Jarvis represents. It won't be widespread until new tools are created and certain technical issues are tackled. The usual suspects like storage and bandwidth issues will always be in the process of being resolved. In the meantime, here are two ideas for video weblogging tools. Neither are radical; both are possible today.

I often link to a video clip and add comments about it below the link. Blogging is obviously made easy because both content links and personal comments are all in text. But video is temporal, and I'd like to be able to blog about video by adding comments in time. The videos on Tropisms do this well: while the video plays, different subtitles appear at various moments, commenting on the moment and affecting our viewing. Aisling is working on a blogging-oriented video editing and annotation tool for self-created movie clips. Perhaps her software could be extended to support found videos and temporal commentary. Flash or SMIL could be used. A related feature would be the ability to easily mix self-created and found video, again using Flash or SMIL. Pundits like Jarvis could begin and end a "vlog" entry with their beloved talking-head clips, while in the middle would be the clip of interest from news or entertainment sites. This brings the video weblog closer to the text weblog format of content plus commentary, as well as to traditional video montage. It's blogging about video in video.

Another reason for blogging is to capture the small and big moments in my daily life. For making an equivalent video diary, the capture process has to become more compact and casual. Recently I began carrying my PC100 everywhere for my daily video sketches. It's relatively small for a digicam, but it's not quite pocket-sized, and it's easily noticed by other people when I'm shooting. I want a camera small enough to attach to my messenger bag strap or my jacket pocket. It could be built out of inexpensive digital CMOS camera parts. Media capture could be done onto tape or directly onto a laptop or iPAQ in my bag. I would hold the recording remote control in my hand, and I would be able to point and shoot freely whenever I encountered an interesting visual. One step further would be to have the camera be a part of my glasses, so I can control more precisely what I shoot. Which is of course doable today - although I'm not quite ready to begin dressing like Steve Mann for my weblog's sake.

12:53 AM | Comment

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Sweet winter holiday applet. The cuteness is overwhelming.

9:56 AM | Comment

Two-thirds of the songs that Nick Hornby writes about in his Songbook are not on the book's accompanying CD. I've gathered almost all of them, and you can download them from here. I'm missing one song: So I’ll Run by Butch Hancock and Marce LaCouture.

Update: I've found the missing track. It's here.

9:50 AM | Comment

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