To videoblog or not to videoblog

There’s a whole debate going on over on TechMeme about whether or not more people should videoblog.

There’s a lot of opinions out there on both sides, so let’s do a little bit of “truth or fiction.”

1) Mark Evans says he’s not doing it cause it takes more time than doing a podcast. TRUE. But not for the reason you might think. It’s cause the files take longer to upload. An hour podcast can be something less than 20mb, but the same hour of video can be 800 MBs, which can take a considerable time to upload. I find that I can do the same kind of show, though, with the same quality on video.

2) Jon Watson says “To create a videocast you have to have set/studio; lighting; personal appearance; visuals.” FALSE. You don’t need a set/studio. I do my videoshow in geek’s offices. You don’t need lighting (but you do need to be aware of it). You don’t need visuals, although it makes you look professional. Who said videoblogs need to look professional? If someone told you that they are totally missing the point. We’ll talk more about this after my show is up, though. But keep in mind that I wanted a more professional look than is possible with just standard videoblog content.

3) Mathew Ingram and Alec Saunders say “Alec says he doesn’t find video a very good way of getting information across, which is why he doesn’t follow many vlogs — and I would agree.” FALSE AND TRUE. False because there are some things that just require video. Here’s a test. Give me one minute of video or 10,000 words to explain to me what Halo 3 does. The video will beat the text every single time, even if you have a Pulitzer-prize winning author write the words. True because words are far easier to skim, far easier to search, far easier to store, far easier to upload, and generally have more information imparted per minute spent consuming than video does.

4) Alec Sanders says “And conversely, why would I want to turn my blog into just two minutes of daily sound bites?” Translation, he thinks that videoblogging needs to be two minutes each post. FALSE. My Channel 9 videos were regularly 50 or more minutes long and, while some people complained, I really didn’t ever listen to them. It still built an audience of 4.3 million unique visitors in a month. If you want to watch short videos that don’t go in depth I suggest you don’t watch my show (although I won’t always have long ones either, some topics/demos/interviews only need two to five minutes to cover well).

There are a few other things I’ve heard on the street about videoblogging too.

4) You need a professional camera rig. FALSE. Geek Entertainment TV got an audience of thousands per month by using a borrowed cheap camera without good microphones or lights.

5) You need a tripod. FALSE, but I wish it were TRUE. Most video can be dramatically improved with the use of a tripod. But, I watch a lot of videos that have good content even though they are shaky.

6) You need to worry about sound. TRUE. There are few things worse than a videoblog that you can’t clearly hear. Almost all of the complaints about my work come when the audio is faint or obscured by some noise.

7) If you want a pat on your back from other videobloggers you need to have good lighting. GENERALLY TRUE. One trick I’ve learned is that you need to keep the brighest thing in the room BEHIND the camera. Why? Cameras don’t have the dynamic range of your eye, so you need a consistent source of light. Putting something bright behind you, like Andy Abramson here does, makes the video look unprofessional (he is too dark in many parts of this video). Oh, and Andy also makes another common videoblogger mistake: too much headroom. He looks like he’s falling off of the bottom of the frame.

8) You need to keep the camera within three feet of whoever is talking. TRUE (maybe). This is true if you’re using the on-camera microphone, which generally sucks. If you use a wireless lavalier microphone then you can put the camera wherever you like.

By the way, we’re working on “The Vloggies” which is a contest to find the best videoblogs. That’ll be in San Francisco, November 4. Judges are being picked by the community (we all hang out on the Yahoo videoblogger mailing list, this is a great place to get help doing your own videoblog).

My answer to “should you videoblog?” It depends. 🙂

UPDATE: Andrew Baron (the guy who does Rocketboom) points out that videobloggers are joining the A list at a very quick rate. THAT is a reason we’ll see more videoblogs.


The view from a fat white boy

Chris Messina wrote an interesting post “the future of white boy clubs.”

One way I’m changing the world is to make the groups and things I do totally open. Anyone is welcome to participate in it. Not just white boys. And, that’s been true from the earliest of days (back in 2001 when we did blogger dinners we made them open to the public, not behind closed doors like other camps and events, and anyone could come).

Same is true on my show. If you’re smart and building something interesting I want you on my show. Especially if you’re not a fat white boy like me. I’m going to work on a segment where anyone who can get to San Francisco can get on my show. As long as they have a new/cool technology to show off.

Yesterday I met with three talented women at eBay. Caroline Malijaud. Sara Carter. Ali Croft. Damn smart. And interesting, fun, talented, engaging. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them on camera. They are doing something that PR doesn’t want discussed in public yet. But they are out there, conference planners just have to work harder.

I’ll be the first to admit that my show isn’t very interesting yet cause it’s mostly white guys. Talking with these three at eBay, and hanging around at BlogHer were good ways to get a conversation going that’ll change that.

I think the key here is to do some real gumshoe work and try to find smart technologists, no matter what the color or gender or whatever and invite them into what we’re doing.

If you don’t think there’s smart women out there building cool tech, why don’t you go visit Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics lab. Go watch my video. Now fast forward to 39:15. The two women there building soccer-building robots are inspiring.

They are a lot smarter than I am. And that’s no hooey from a fat white boy.

A good aftertaste of yesterday

Some days just leave a good aftertaste in your mouth when you wake up the next day.

Last night Maryam and I saw humor writer Dave Barry at the Flint Center, along with thousands of other Silicon Valleyites. I’ve never laughed so much. I remember taking my glasses off five times cause the tears were rolling down my face. And, as I looked around, the entire crowd was doing the same. He got a standing ovation at the end.

Whenever I meet someone with real talent I just sit back in awe. Dave has it. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, definitely do it.

The rest of the day was great too! Working backward I met with Tim Connor, Venture Capitalist at USVP. He gave me lots of tips on things I should be looking at for my show. Before that I was at eBay. Met with Lenn Pryor, and a bunch of other really smart people. More on that on my show in a couple of weeks.

I must apologize to Venture Capitalist Jeff Clavier. I screwed him yesterday cause my calendar was all messed up. I owe him a really nice bottle of wine cause of that.

Anyway, before eBay I was over at Winnov, seeing the future of University and Corporate Training with Olivier Garbe, founder/CEO and one of my former bosses. Nice to see him again and things there look like they are really rocking and rolling.

Yesterday morning started out with meeting former Microsoft exec, Brad Chase (he played key roles in the formation of MSN as well as Internet Explorer) so it was a real honor to meet him, and he gave me a great demo of Vizrea, a new content sharing system for cell phone owners.

Today I’m gonna hang out with friends and family, hope you’re doing the same.