By Michael Rogers Columnist
Special to MSNBC
updated 3/28/2005 3:43:10 PM ET 2005-03-28T20:43:10

Here’s some follow-up on last week’s column on vlogging .

First, an interesting new place to post video has now launched: the long-awaited It’s an open-source citizen-journalist project masterminded by veteran new-media writer JD Lasica and the even more veteran multimedia pioneer Marc Canter (there are probably kids learning Director today who weren’t born when Marc created its earliest incarnation years ago in San Francisco). Ourmedia had 20,000 visitors its first day, and signed up 3,000 members in its first 3 days and is definitely worth watching.

Another reader suggested, a no-cost video aggregator that also offers an application platform that allows any Web site to play video uploads. But check out their terms of service — it looks like they basically take over all rights to any video uploaded to their site (including the ability to reuse it without crediting the creator).  On the Web, free lunches usually don’t stay free for long.

Vlogging lit fires among some readers:

Joe Dwinell, Framingham, MA: TV is beating the pants off the rest of the media because it's easy. Too easy. Video blogging could pull in more eyes and — wouldn't this be nice — possibly give birth to a well-informed electorate.

We need to use whatever tools we can to pull the darn remote controls out of the hands of kids and tired adults and compel them to read/write/think/respond. I'm a journalist with a fledgling blog, and I also do TV reports for WB56 here in Boston, so this topic is kicking around in my head -- big time.

Virgil Butler, Pine Ridge, AR: Ooooh! I can see great possibilities here. As an animal protectionist, environmentalist and social justice activist, my blog focuses on the devastating social effects of factory farming. With the ability to put video on my site, I can show exactly what I witnessed as a worker in the poultry industry, most recently as a hanger/killer in a Tyson slaughterhouse in Arkansas. With this wonderful new technology, the public won't have to take my word for it.

Other readers, however, weren’t so sure:

Warwick, London, UK: There's no way that a vlog will be used in the same way as a blog. How about searching content? As we get more vlogs people will need to advertise their content so transcripts or tables of contents may become common.

Blogs are also much easier to update regularly — no need to do your hair.

Michael, Durham, NC: Vlogs are such a distinctly different animal that they are never going to replace blogs. Does the world really want to know when we compose a post sans pantalones?  How many people really have Webcams?  And how many of them can produce video of sufficient quality to endure for even five minutes? The progression from email to personal homepages to blogs is an easy and organic path. My money is on vlogging remaining a niche expression, limited to those highly specialized in skills and equipment. And, to be both shallow and cynical, those whose visages are so pleasant we don't mind watching them day after day.

Adam Reineke, Boone, IA: Quite a few people still connect to the Internet using a dialup modem — including me. Loading a 10MB vlog just isn't practical because it would take over an hour. Text loads quickly — in just a couple seconds, a blog appears.  A few minutes later, I know how my friend is doing and I can move onto the next blog. 

Adam has a good point about bandwidth. But I think that within a few years we’ll see federally-mandated low-cost broadband access for everyone, similar to today’s universal telephone service requirement. And as far as searching goes, that’s turning into the big technology race on the Web. Everyone — from Google to the TV networks — is working on how to make video as searchable as text. Somebody’s going to make it happen.

And as for whether the video makeover of the Web will lessen the importance of reading:

/sms ;-), Lake Constance (Germany/Switzerland/Austria): i guess we are since a long time ago in the "post-literate culture". so what? in addition: i like your columne, even though i cant write/speak english! again: "so what?"

Michael KW, Texas: We can't help but form a bias about someone based on how they look -- do they look as smart as their words sound? Some people will let their words exist without the bias that visual images can impose. But some morphed blend will probably end up the most prevalent form as technology makes it easier.

Sal, Novi, MI: Reading will always have a place in communication due to the higher rate of assimilation by the human mind. Writing will be replaced by verbal recognition software as a faster, more accurate method of notation. The creativity to generate the words will always come from a human.

Manny, Carolina, P.R.: Writing will always exist, but as for reading, you'll have one camp of "readers" (read: literates) and others who may read but not necessarily with the same comprehension.

I fear we’re going to see a decline in reading comprehension as it grows easy to provide audio-video instruction and information at all times. People will still need to recognize basic vocabulary of a few hundred words, but reading and interpreting long pieces of text may become a more specialized ability. As Sal points out, when text is absolutely required, very intelligent dictation software will let workers create crude but understandable memos, with no actual writing skills of their own. In retrospect, the 20th century may be seen as the high-water mark of general literacy. I’m not suggesting this is a good thing — a decline in reading skills will almost certainly lower the level of public discourse and create a populace far more easily manipulated by those who can read. On this one, let’s hope the Practical Futurist has it all wrong. 

To end on a brighter note, this from an anonymous reader: 

When WiMAX covers cities, people will have life-vlogs shot with body jewelry cameras.  A high school girl might ask her girlfriend, "Were you watching my log (life-vlog) when that dork asked me out?”

Yeah, but that dork has his own life-vlog and he’s probably just Photoshopped that snotty princess into a toad on his site. 

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