When the brutal tsunami crashed into South Asia last week it marked a milestone in human tragedy — and for the Internet as well since it hammered home how weblogs can instantaneously communicate images.
Images from other media, to be sure but, as the Wall Street Journal Online notes (story linked above) — a menu of compelling (and depressing and tragic) images were quickly slapped on the Internet due to video-offerings on sites such as Cheese and Crackers and Punditguy. WSJ Online details the stories of these bloggers — their huge number of hits, and resulting problems some faced in a tsunami of unique visitors to their sites. And, the piece notes, blogsites with compelling footage can be set up super-quick to respond to reader’s desire for more info. More:
Even before the tsunami, media watchers had predicted that 2005 would be a big year for video blogging, also known as vlogging. Jay Rosen, chair of the Department of Journalism at New York University and a media blogger himself, says the unique videos of the waves hitting shore could be a "breakthrough" event for the Web.
Last year, video bloggers already showed their muscle by rapidly distributing a clip of singer Ashlee Simpson caught lip synching on "Saturday Night Live," and another of the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart clashing with the hosts of CNN’s "Crossfire." According to Andreas Wacker, founder of blogsnow.com, a site that ranks blogs, the Crossfire video was downloaded by more people on the Internet than saw it on TV. "When the Internet wants to see something, it sees it," he says.
Even so, the genre is still in its infancy — and like much on the Web, its protocols are still evolving.
To obtain the videos, many bloggers linked to TV Web sites, pulled them from Internet bulletin boards or snatched them from each other, in a chaotic rush to make the unedited scenes available to curious surfers. There’s a big premium for dramatic videos showing the moment the waves hit land.
Some TV networks, in turn, were alerted to amateur videos first by bloggers.
Indeed, this underlines — again — the derivative nature of most blogs…and that isn’t a negative statement. Most blogging — as it exists now — is commenting or expanding on written reports or commentaries written and researched by others. Similarly, in the case of videos, bloggers grab the info and get it out there ASAP.
So is there a future in this? WSJ again:
Jeff Jarvis, a blogger at buzzmachine.com and the creator of Entertainment Weekly magazine, predicts video blogging will evolve into "the new definition of a TV show," especially as bloggers start to add their own content and commentary to news footage.
He thinks producing a professional-looking TV-like program would cost little, and suggests that advertisers, who are now just starting to experiment with blog ads, could jump at the chance to run commercials targeted to specific interest groups. "It’s going to take a while to get decent video content, and to get a critical mass coming in to discover that content," says Mr. Jarvis. Most bloggers see posting the videos as a pastime and a public service, with exposure on the Web as recompense.
OUR OWN EXPERIENCE: As soon as it hit I decided to turn to the Internet. Why? I didn’t have to rely on a network’s schedule to show me what bloggers who may have seen something wrote in other parts of the world. I didn’t have to wait for a network’s timetable to show me the videos.
I might have had to do some quickie research — but the blogs and Internet news sites were faster, nearly instantaneous, and I could get all the items I sought on my own information menu.
The networks are Ruth’s Chris (you wait for the items to be served). Blogs are Hometown Buffet (take what you what immediately). Which would you prefer in a time crunch?