DTC 375: Language, Texts &Technology
April 8, 2009
Word Count: 810
Vlog, Son of Blog.
Web-logs or “blogs” have been around for quite some time. Blogs are typically digital diaries posted on the internet. A recent enhancement to the blog is the video-log or “vlog”. Vlogs are very similar to blogs in that they use the internet and are also typically a diary or journal. Vlogs utilize many more facets of textuality than their ancestors the blogs. Because a vlog contains elements from nearly every form of textuality, it is more credible, captivating and interactive than any of its individual textual components.
A vlog is an excellent example of individual textual components being combined to create a new form of media. In the book Remediation: Understanding New Media written by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, the authors describe how new media pays homage to old media by manipulating, combining and modifying the old media. They call this transformation “remediation”. Vlogs combine the oral medium of sound, print medium of text, and the electronic medium of video and interactivity of the internet into a form of textuality that is seen, heard, read and interacted with at the same time at any time. Each of the basic medium forms can stand on their own but the combination into a vlog creates a powerful, new, non-linear medium.
Advances in technology have been one of the leading factors in the emergence of vlogs. Not too long ago the primary way to access the web was through dial-up and was very slow. The slow dial-up speeds were frustrating and web sites with unnecessary graphics were regarded as rude. Simple text was preferred. In those days the thought of transmitting a video was almost obscene.
Technology increased bandwidth and with it web based applications were able to evolve. Blogs also evolved. It eventually became appropriate to share videos. It is widely accepted that Adam Kontras created and still operates the first known and longest maintained video blog. Adam started his vlog in January 2000 documenting his move to Los Angeles. His first vlog was short, very low resolution and lasted only 10 seconds. As bandwidth grew and Adams abilities developed, his blogs became more complex and transcended comedy, opinions, music, and more. His most recent entry at 11:55 PM, on Saturday, March 28th, 2009, #869 titled The Kismet is nearly television quality with (comparatively) rich audio and lasting one minute and 45 seconds.
Vlogs hit a spike in popularity when YouTube came on line in February 2005. Suddenly, if you weren’t uploading a video to YouTube you were watching one on YouTube. Everything and anything imaginable took on the form of a video. These blogs with a kick added more layers, more dimensions and more interactivity than a simple text journal. Some vlogs have become so popular they have been syndicated and broadcast using Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
A new market has evolved with the advent of vlogs. Popular vlogs, not necessarily syndicated vlogs, are targeted by advertisers who want to purchase exposure of one form or another. Some advertisers may post a link on the page with the vlog; some vlogs may actually contain trailers in the video itself. Other advertisers have disguised their advertisements as personal vlogs injecting them with product placement and fooling the viewer into unwittingly watching a commercial.
The age old statement ‘seeing is believing’ comes to mind when experiencing vlogs. For example, a vlog may be created to show how dropping a Mentos in a bottle of diet pop can create a 20 foot geyser of soda. If you were to read it or someone told you about it I doubt you would be nearly as impressed as a video tutorial complete with the results. You may even be inspired to go try it! What about the vlog showing how to make Mountain Dew glow in the dark with some basic household chemicals? The video is impressive and the instructions are so simple. The problem is that the Mountain Dew video is a hoax and care should be taken when trying to duplicate anything seen online.
The vlog is more than just tacking a video onto a diary. It combines all forms of textuality and packages them into a new, powerful medium that interacts with people and grabs their attention. Vlogs are more than seductive sounds, bright flashes or engaging images but a homogenous mixture of all. Whether it is a vlog about how to make the perfect Mocha, or fiction like how to make Mountain dew glow in the dark or amazing news events, vlogs are an impressive and effective way to share information and engage the viewer.
Kontras, Adam. “The Journey.” Adam Kontras. 2009. 4tvs. March 31, 2009.
Bolter, J. David and Grusin, Richard. Remediation : Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press, 1999.