Forbes names VideoBlogs as a Top Tech trend for 2005 (and why they are wrong)

Filed as General on January 19, 2005 2:51 pm

by Duncan

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Duncan Riley> In a positive note of recognition for an emerging section of the blogosphere, Rich Karlgaard at Forbes has named video blogs as one of his three pics for tech trends in 2005, stating “this year video Weblogs are sure to be the “it” thing”.

In justifying the decision he sites a number of Tsunami video blogs and the clip of comedian Jon Stewart on CNN’s Crossfire in October as examples where Video Blogs are making an impact.

Which is true, both examples demonstrate where blogs utilising video saw large amounts in traffic.

However, two examples do not equal a tech trend.

This is not to say that sometime in the near future (2-5 years) video blogs will be the “it” trend.

There are three reasons:
1. Podcasting/ Audio Blogging, and the evolution of citizen publishing
It seems natural that an evolution of citizen publishing has emerged on the internet since it became mainstream in around 1995-96.
In the beginning there were homepages, the first demonstrations of citizen publishing that often involved WYSIWIG software and server tools but did not lead itself to user friendly updating. Use of photography was limited and often poor in quality.
By 2000, at the end of the dot com boom, CMS (Content Management Systems) started to proliferate, digital cameras became affordable, and the beginning of the blog tools we know today emerged. The ability for virtually everyone to write to the web, and update regularly was founded. The same systems evolved to include picture publishing, and again, the technology and its cost was such that nearly anyone could be a part of the evolution.
In 2004, the Apple iPod saw an unprecedented takeup in portable audio playback, and this spurned the next great evolution, Podcasting or Audio Blogging. In the space of a few months, the term went from a few thousand mentions on Google to nearly 1 million. 2005 is the year that Podcasting is likely to become the next big thing. If we are unable to conquer audio, how is it that as users we will be able to participate in Video. The tools of Podcasting are themselves still relatively immature (trying recording a Skype conversation and you’ll understand why) but will evolve over time. And as Podcasting matures, Video will begin to emerge.
I’ve dubbed the theory: the evolution of the internet, which although simplistic, can be applied outside of citizen publishing to other spheres are well: it goes like this;
TEXT – PICTURES – AUDIO – VIDEO – VIRTUAL
We are at stage three of the 5 step evolution of the internet. For Virtual, picture Tom Clancy’s Net Force. Total immersion within the Internet, with all items wired. Picture 3D, the provision of sensory input, where the internet is no longer delivered on a monitor. I know some will think this whacky, but it is the only natural progression after video. We are already developing remote surgery, where doctors are performing operations half way around the world using virtual immersion and robotics.

2. Bandwidth
Bandwidth is still too dear for the average citizen publisher, or blogger, although in the ten years since the start of the main internet age, it has continued to plummet. I had the opportunity of recording a Podcast recently with Cameron and Mick from the G’Day World Podcast and this was something we discussed. Even at the low cost they were obtaining bandwidth, they were still paying around $100 a month for a few thousand downloads. Take the podcast I recorded, which (although it could be compressed some more) ended up at over 40mb. The average blogger does not want to dish out hundreds of dollars, or potentially a whole lot more (if they become really popular) to embrace this. Only when the costs of bandwidth continue to decease will affordability cease to be a barrier of entry to podcasting. Video takes up more space again in file size, and more bandwidth. A 1 hour long video blog, even of a person talking to camera, can potentially end up at 100′s of mbs. The cost of bandwidth needs to decrease to a lower price point than the explosion point for podcasting/ audio blogging before it is widely embraced.

3. Technology
Citizen reporting (blogging), as opposed to plain citizen publishing, has bloomed due to the proliferation of, and ease of use of the numerous blogging tools that are now available at little or no cost. Podcasting is on the threshold of bigger things, with most tools still relatively immature, or too expensive for the average user. That being said, new solutions to problems are being found daily, and new tools are being developed now that in the next 6-12 months will help Podcasting spread far and wide. Video blogging is more difficult again. Whilst Mac users are discovering the ability to edit video from new DVD Videocamera recorders, the ability to then edit such an item for its desimination on the internet, from size compression to quality control, is still something best left to experts with expensive tools, or the ability to be able to provide such output is so time consuming to learn as to be an inhibitor to video blogging.

Its not all doom and gloom if your a video blogger. The proliferation of videos on websites is growing (CNet for example) and as Internet speeds increase from the point of use, the ability to provide video will continue to become both more affordable, accessible and easier to create. New standards for television transmission over the net may well see the consolidation of broadcasting from the airwaves to IP in 5 to 10 years. The cost of video cameras continues to decrease at the same time as the quality improves. More video blogs will emerge over the coming year but the issues I have raised here will not see a mass proliferation (say hundreds of thousands) of video blogs in 2005. Its just not going to be the year of the Video Blog, and vblogging will not be this years “it”.

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