December 11, 2005
On Vlogs

The New York Times has an article today about video blogs (vlogs, or video podcasts on the iTunes music store), calling them "new media's favorite new medium." The article profiles several vlog creators - Amanda Congdon of Rocketboom formats her videos like news reports, while Michael Verdi and Charlene Rule (of Scratch Video) create intensely personal movies that are almost like journal entries.

The advertising opportunities with vlogs are mentioned briefly. While most do not have enough viewers to warrant advertising, the most popular vlogs may prove to be very lucrative when advertisers warm up to the idea. Recently TiVo began listing select vlogs in its directory, allowing users to record vlogs to their television sets and the vlog producers to profit from advertising before and after their content.

The article is fairly comprehensive and a good resource for someone who wants an introduction to popular vlogs. However, I think the article is overstating the mass appeal of vlogs when it says that "the rapid expansion in the number of vlogs and Web sites offering video podcasts strongly suggests how bored viewers are getting with standard commercial TV." The problem is that vlogs and commercial TV are very different. Vlogs are shorter, produced with a significantly lower budget or no budget at all, and are created by individuals (often just one or two people) rather than corporations. Most vlogs - like most blogs - are personal, created to keep in touch with friends, discuss a hobby, or document daily life; thus they appeal to a niche audience. It seems to me that (for now) people enjoy both commercial television and vlogs, and the growth of vlogging doesn't suggest a shift from a different medium.