Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Video Blogging and Video Comments

I posted the following to Robert Scoble's blog (it's awaiting moderation at the moment) here.

"I may be an old Luddite here but I don’t get this video blogging stuff. When I visit a blog I read it - scan it, in fact, - and get the gist of what the blog is about. You cannot do this with video blogging spaces like Seesmic. You have to sit through interminable hours of video waiting for the nugget of information.

Ditto for comments. I can read comments very quickly, scanning them for the rubbish and the gold. You cannot do that with video - wait for it to load, listen to the comment move on.

I think the difference is that with the written word the onus is on the creator to distill their words so the reader gets the message. With video, the onus is shifted to the viewer to watch and sift out the noise on the fly. “Er Um Er Um” doesn’t get written down - but it’ll stay in the video.

Audio comments? I won’t be listening.
Video comments? I won’t be watching."

I guess all this runs on from my experiences with Seesmic and Qik. I have many friends who use these services - people I respect, people I like, and people I like AND respect! - but I just don't get them at all.

I use YouTube a fair bit, I've even posted some clips myself and it's great. Short, snappy video for searching and researching. I am also a big consumer of blogs, podcasts and videocasts. I am a consumer of media in quite a big way.

I just don't get video blogs. As I reference above, a blog is scannable. You can look at a title, move on if it's crap and read on if it's interesting. If the title is interesting then I scan the content. I will either read it in full or scan fast to the next one.

You cannot do that with video. I can read quickly - faster than most people talk most probably - so if you include the load time for the video it's going to take me a lot longer to watch a blog post or comment than read it.

I can also, and this is important, reread a post or comment. It is notoriously difficult to rewind an online video. Start again or start again seem to be the only options.

Who has time to listen to the ramblings of some incompetent buffoon who might have something interesting to say 6 minutes in? I don't and I don't think the average Joe who reads blogs will either.

I'm probably going to get a pasting over this but I think video blogging and video comments are more about the narcissistic tendencies of the creators of the post rather than any social media, content extension or value-add to the receiver of the information. Where is the value add - what extra does the video comment bring that the written word can't.

Now, the naysayers will jump in and compare me to the folks who said Television would be a fad and radio would win out in the end. Wrong, this is different. Blogs are a written word medium and Video Podcasts or YouTube clips are a natural home for video. I don;t think the two mix well at all.

I still hold to my original opinion that Seesmic, Disqus and Qik (to name but three) are solutions looking for problems and I can't see the problem they are solving.

I will happily admit I am wrong if someone can show me why but until then I think they are a flash in the pan and will fade away in short order.


  1. I'm right there with you. I think most video comments and audio comments are not going to be in my queue. I appreciate when a PodCaster culls through audio comments, because I can be sure that at least the comments there are relevant to the discussion.

    Video comment spam... I can just now see that one on the way.

  2. Totally with you. I messed with Seesmic briefly but came to the same and almost immediate realisation that I simply do not have the time in my day to wade through what ends up being mostly irrelevant stuff.

  3. I am obviously biaised ;) but it really is horses for courses: video can do some things and not others. There are cases where you need to show something, and qikking it live (to take the particular example) may be the right thing.
    We have all seen cases of irrelevant content, which applies to written blogs as well - and easier as it may be to scan it, you probably won't go back for more if there always is too much irrelevant content. Same with videos - with the "bonus" of ums and ers.
    Interesting debate :)

  4. Hi Mireia. It's not clear (to me at least) how you are "obviously biased"! Are you part of Qik or something like that?

    It may be the case that there ARE uses for video blogs and video comments but I just cannot see it.

    My problem is the "serial" nature of video and audio comments. Written word can be processed in a "parallel" stream in that you can scan and skim line after line whereas with A/V comments you have to take it all in in a linear fashion. It gets worse in that it has to be done in real time. A huge time waster IMHO.

  5. That last comment was me BTW. I was signed in on the wrong account.

  6. Anonymous2:23 am