A brief and personal history of videoblogging

Since memory is fickle, and these days, and blogs – not news – are the first draft of history, I wanted to note down my personal history of videoblogging before I forget most of it. I’m going to use my own blog to refresh my memory, and some of the history on the wikipedia entry. Most of this story happens in 2004.

First, Adrian Miles posts his first (known) videoblog entry ever on November 27, 2000, although it’s debatable what really was the first “videoblogging” entry. As with many categories, the category of “videoblogs” doesn’t have a clearly defined boundary.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I came to New York in 2002. I rented a room in Harlem, and I became friends with Jay Dedman. Back then, our conversations were mostly about the future of robots. I moved to Hoboken but we stayed in touch.

 

I spent a few years working as a consultant, generally a pretty boring time.

In May 2004, me and Jay were walking in Central Park (Jay’s story). Jay was working at MNN, a community television station, and we were talking about his frustrations with that model, and how cool it would be to see videos on the internet. It was a really long and excited conversation, and it got us started.

I had started blogging in the beginning of 2002, and I told Jay about blogging and we talked about whether you could put videos on a blog. We got pretty excited.

So we started to experiment. Jay got a blog (http://www.momentshowing.net/, Jay’s first video post ever), and we tried to put videos on our blogs. We had to learn about encodings, and all that stuff, and we worried a lot about bandwith.

I remember that, when we discovered you could take videos with those little digital photocameras, we were pretty excited.

We also found out that Steve Garfield had started his videoblog in January 2004 – one of the first videoblogs ever – and had declared 2004 the year of the videoblog.

In June, we started the videoblogging mailing list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging/). Jay insisted on the importance of community, and I proposed the idea of starting a mailing list. I remember Jay saying that mailing lists are for teenage girls. In any case, we started the list, and that’s where the “community” of videobloggers started.

Over the next months and years, Jay was always the one stressing the importance of getting people in one by one, helping out everyone, building community. He was a “connector”, an evangelist for the cause.

What David Winer was for blogging, and Adam Curry for podcasting, Jay was for videoblogging.

I also have to mention Ryanne and Michael, of Freevlog fame, who have also personally been responsible for getting hundreds of videobloggers started, if not more.

In the second half of 2004, the group of videobloggers was still small (slowly growing to a few dozen, then to a few hundred), but we were all very excited and experimenting a lot. We did thing like videobloggingweek – a challenge to post a video every day for a week.

There was a lot of offline community building, videoblogger barbeques, meetups and so on.

I remember Mica told me how she showed videoblogging to Charlene, who then got very excited and spent all night getting her first videopost to work. That’s how it went, people told each other. I was always surprised to see how excited someone would get when they realized they could publish their video in the internet, without needing to ask anyone’s permission.

 

I have to also mention the podcasters. For the first few years, podcasting was, as far as who was involved in it, on a separate track from videoblogging. We didn’t really talk to each other. Podcasters got a lot more press (especially in 2005), and videobloggers were much more unknown. There was a lot of bickering in the podcasting world, and videobloggers were generally a more fun bunch to be around. Less money involved too. The best think about podcasting was the enclosure element in RSS that they promoted. Videobloggers started to use it too, and this stimulated the emergence of video aggregators.

In December 2004, Kenyatta Cheese made a mockup of a video aggregator (a “vogbrowser”). I thought that looked cool, and spent 3 days coding something together that was the first version of Mefeedia, the first video aggregator.

PS: I always hated the words “vog” and “vlog”, and always fought to use “videoblogging”. “Vlogging”, it just sounds like something you wouldn’t want your mom to know you’re doing.

Anyways.

In January 2005, we organized the first Vloggercon (http://vloggercon.com). I remember Jay saying, “these are the fun days, the early days, enjoy it”. And they were, and we did. We (I just helped with coffee) organized that conference on a budget of about 600 US$ (for coffee, mostly), and it was an incredible success.

And that’s where I’m going to end this part of the story. It’s the most interesting part.

In 2005, the Starting Of Companies started in the videoblogging world, iTunes and YouTube came along, blip.tv was started, and things generally became more commercial and perhaps less fun. The pioneering days were over. In 2006, vloggercon felt a lot more commercial, although the organizers did their best.

Apart from some video projects (http://colombiamigrationproject.net), I haven’t been a very active videoblogger on my personal blog.
I spend about 2 years working on Mefeedia, but I got tired of it and sold it in January 2007.

(Remember that memory is fickle, so please correct me in the comments.)

Josh Kinberg writes: Just want to add a little to your history… Kenyatta’s VlogBrowser
was based on my implementation if ViPodder as a desktop based aggregator and video playlist manager (first created with Applescript
and then later as a command-line Perl script — it was initially based on Adam Curry’s “iPodder” script). This became the basis for FireAnt, and Kenyatta’s implementation came after a discussion with him over the merits of desktop based aggregation vs. web-based aggregation. Truthfully, I would say that ViPodder is the first video aggregator.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s