Sunday, December 11, 2005

The revolution is personal media

TV Stardom on $20 a Day - New York Times.
FREE weblog friendly story link that will never expire.

Michael Verdi comments on the article:
Well I thought that overall that was a very good article. It has lots of good thing to say about the videoblogs (like mine :) ) it references and generally makes videoblogging sound like this new and exciting thing that's happening - which I certainly think is true.

There is one subtle point that they hit on a number of times in the article that I think is off base. And the NY Times isn't the only one to this, it happens in almost every article written in the mainstream press.

Some quotes from the article:
"What makes Rocketboom so different from most of the other video blogs, or vlogs, that have popped up in the last year or so is that the daily episodes are consistently entertaining."

"Many of the world's other vlogs are closer in form to diaries or
home movies - with all the tedium that can imply."

"Most of the vlogs are quite boring"
So here's where I think they miss the point: The value judgement of "consistently entertaining" or "boring" is holdover from commercial TV or film where everyone's goal is to be entertaining to as many people as possible so that they can sell advertising or movie tickets to recoup the enormous costs of production and distribution. While this might still hold somehwhat true in the context of talking about Rocketboom, it's not relevant to the vast majority of videoblogs.

It's personal media. For the most part videoblogs are narrowly targeted to a small audience who I'm sure finds them consistently entertaining. They are not necessarily meant to be or try to be entertaining to a general audience. And because, unlike Rocketboom, an episode really only costs $20 or more likely $2, they can afford to be specific in what audience they aim for.

To be clear here, I'm not saying that I personally think that every videoblog out there is fantastic (my tastes aren't THAT eclectic). It just doesn't matter whether I think of them at all. What matters is that they can videoblog for what ever reason they choose to - to keep in touch with friends, document their lives, whatever. That in and of itself is a powerful thing. They don't have to be everything to everyone. The beauty is they can just be what they are and you can freely pick and choose the ones that seem to be made just for you.

There are already enough people doing it that I have about 80 videoblogs that I personally subscribe to that create more commercial free content than I have time to watch and that I find more entertaining and informative than most TV or movies.

I believe that when people learn that an alternative exists where they can create and share their own media, tell their own stories, and write the history of their own communities, the face of media will change forever. I think that blogging, podcasting and videoblogging could make that a reality in 2006. That's why I personally think, like the article says at the end, "the revolution may just be vloggerized."


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