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Blogtalk Downunder » Transcript of prototype three

Blogtalk Downunder
   May 19-22, Sydney

Blogtalk Downunder

Transcript of prototype three

What follows is an approximate transcript of the commentary tracks used in the BlogTalk Prototype 3 video blog.

1. why must video inn a blog be more than video in a blog?

Video must be more than video in a blog for the same reasons that text in a blog must be more than text in a blog. Our blogged text is highly granular in terms of linking. We can link from a letter, word, phrase, sentence, paragraph. From an image, a heading, an email address, a date and time stamp. From our blogroll. From our technorati profile. Our text in a blog is highly porous to the network. It can be linked to from anywhere else on the netwrok. We have links to our entire blogs, to individual entries in our blogs, from other’s blogrolls and their individual entries. A blog is networked writing, not writing on the network. The former is woven by its links, in and out. The latter is publishing a web page. The former is fluid, variable, open. The latter is much more stable, closed.

For video to be blog like it needs to be more open. Until then it is video in a blog. This is a steop in the right direction. It is, after all, a bit more sophisticated than video embedded on a web page. But not a lot more. All the blog labour, the work of being blog like, is being relegated to the blog CMS. The video remains unaware of the network. Unlike your blog posts it does not know if it has been linked to, if it has been cited, or even how to include in itself something from somewhere else.

We’re slowly getting there. One day soon someone will let you embed clips into your sidebar just like flickr does with stills, then we’ll start to head in a better direction.

2. breaks down access to barriers to media.

yes of course it does. Your examples: be on tv, in a movie theatre, write a book. Why are your examples reliant on access to old media? For me this is because the paradigm that is being used, that is being pursued, is old media. It is not about being a film makerr by other means, in the same way that a blog is not about being an author of novels by other means. They’re different.

But what you’re describing here is: cheap cameras, firewire, free DV editing systems, and a simple CMS. Yes, using a blog engine as your CMS and say a cheap Macintosh means you can shoot and edit video and publish it. Go for it and there will be a revolution. But this is not a new form so lets just recognise that. It is so 1985. we could all now be desktop publishers and it was a revolution. But apart from some design changes we kept right on designing, making, and publishing the same old things: brochures, pamphlets, catalogues, books, and so on. Hypertext, and then the Web, is what changed the genres that we made, and blogs, as probably the first indigenous Web genre, took what? 5 years to appear, and 7 to become obvious. This is where we are right now with videoblogs. We are confusing accessibility with a new genre. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you think you’re doing something new. By new I mean novel, I mean not done before, I mean something with new affordances.

3. Sit down and decide what it is.

The manifesto is related to Von Trier’s dogme manifesto. It is explicitly located in a long debate about what counts and doesn’t ‘count’. The manifesto is not deciding anything. It is proposing a way of doing that is open and future orientated. We have been embedding video on the web since about 1995. We have been video blogging since 2000. There is a qualitative difference between these two activities. Not a quantitative one. A video blog is a different object to embedded video. One is old media repurposed into networks. The other is networked media that cannot be repurposed - if you publish a blog as a book it really isnt’ a blog anymore. If you could republish your video from your blog as, say, a high rez DV file for projection into a cinema or gallery space, and it isn’t any different, then you’re in the business of old media.

I like old media. I like that we can change the rules of access because of affordable camera’s, software and easy to use content management systems.. But let’s not fall for a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and le’t call the lamb a lamb. And let’s be wolves.

4. A video blog needs to have an interactive element to it.

Because it is a video blog. Not video. Interactivity doesn’t mean click here. I read a blog. Here’s a quick list of my possible interactions with it:

read multiple entries from one screen.

read and follow blogroll

leave comments

view trackbacks

search the site for specific content

write a post in my blog that references yourblog. (your blogvia trackbacks knows about this automagically)

view/subscribe to your rss subscription

follow links inside individual posts to other sites

follow links to date archives

follow links to theme archives.

Then there are the interactions that happen around your blog that make it a blog: your technorati rank, all those links in to you from other blogrolls and blog posts that help constitute and locate your blog in to that emerging blog community.

these are all forms of interactivity. These are all things that have enabled blogs to be more than just musings on a web page. Now, lets look at your videoblog. Which of the above can I do, in your video? Remind me again how video is blog like in a video blog?

5. why try to define it: what is the rush?

because it will get populated (as it is) by the microsoft notion of video and blogging. because it will make video in a blog a solid object. Text in a blog is porous, that is the how and why of blogs. We weave into and out of each other, this is the texture of the network. Video if it stays a blob of video is textureless in the context of the network.

the rush is because I could see, in 2000, that this day would come, and when it did people would misunderstand the role and authority of blogging (blogs gain authority via their connectedness) and in turn mistake the ability to be media producers with being video bloggers. What is missing is the “blogging” bit in video. How do i easily quote a part of your entry? This is trivial in text. Why should there be any difference? Both are technically possible. There is a difference because people can’t conceive of their ‘finished’ video as being make up of parts. Remixes do this, but remixes are not me being able to easily quote you inside of my video. Or my video citing your video and your video knowing about it (trackback). why not? Why can’t we weave video in the same way that we weave words.

until that moment video blogging will remain vanity video. It is about me, because your video can’t know about my video, and vice versa, without human agency.

6. nobody knows what will happen.

wrong. This is what is happening. People get cameras and macs. They shoot and edit video. Right now this is pretty the equivalent to desktop publishing in 1985. We use computers to make old media. The only difference is that anyone can do it. This is a big difference, but only in terms of access and distribution, not media forms. It took the Web to change that. So this is what is happening. (see also point 5), people are confusing the ability to become a web film maker with work that works like text in blogs. Like work that weaves amongst others. All videoblogs, right now, are scared of the outside. Our videos in our blogs are closed to the chatter of the network. You can watch, you might even be able to recut, but you can’t just link in to that part of my video from a link in your video. Why not? The technology allows it. We just can’t imagine it. Our videos are books. They have beginnings, middles and ends and they’re written to stay that way. Why else are so many videobloggers using opening and closing credits. When I can quote just the middle of your video, what has your credit sequence become? It’s a book model. Old media. Old world.

7. what is and isn’t video blog. valuable role of defintions. Definitions are proscriptive. It is hard to imagine a defintion that couldn’t be otherwise. This is not their danger. Their danger is when this becomes equated with a closed understanding. A definition of a genre is made by a language or user community. It is not up to me to define, for example, what constitutes a western. If i wanted to make a western there are, to some extent, a set of normative restrictions I must adhere to. If my work is good enough (and good enough means recognised by the relevant discourse communities) it might lead to an expansion or revision of what is a western, but I can’t just go and film my kids playing in the backyard and say it’s a western. Not my decision. Out of my hands.

In regards to defining video blogging the role of definitions is important. People are applying for funding, venture capital, writing research. Each of these require working definitions. These same definitions help us to imagine the future, to think past what is to what ought to be. So the definitions being bandied around are also an ethics. The particular definitions I pursue explicitly begin from the premise that most ‘new media’ is defined by looking backwards, by measuring ‘newness’ against old media. And the criteria that are usually used are of the lowest common denominator - TV uses high bandwidth and studios and a broadcast model. We use low bandwidth, our bedrooms and syndicate. (Oh, so does TV.) The only difference in this is some notion of quality, which is either good or bad depending on your views around media aesthetics, access and ideology. But unless you only define TV as expensive broadcast populist content, then videblogs offer little that is new. They’re a better variation of funniest home videos (and the fact that it is trivial to imagine as a thought experiment a program called America’s best videoblogs to be broadcast, shows how little distance there is between videoblogging and TV).

8. What is a manifesto? A manifesto is always a normative call to arms. The writing of manifestos has a long tradition in various art and design practices, of which my vogma manifesto explicitly participates. It contextualises a practice, it changes over time, it provides a place from which debate can begin. It is useful to remember that the manifesto was written when no one was video blogging. The manifesto, I mean the idea of the manifesto in general, gives purchase to ideas.

A call to arms.

9. As you say, citing coppoloa: “the next Hollywood masterpiece would be made by a ten year old girl”. That’s the difference. Hollywood makes movies. To me that’s like Rupert Murdoch saying the next great novel will be written by a ten year old blogger. No. A great blog could be written by a blogger. A blogger might make a great novel. could be a great novelist, but they’re different genres. A videoblogger might make a feature. But that wouldn’t be a vog. Might make a short, that wouldn’t be a vog. A blog isn’t a novella. If it isn’t then videoblogging shouldn’t be just shorts. Blogs are permeated by the network, they’re networked writing events. This is what video ought to be like if it is going to be indigenous to the web.

10. “Let’s stop typing or talking about what a video blog is”. Why? That’s to turn one thing into what it isn’t. How will google find your sentences, in your video? Anything of what you say? Some things are best said in text, some in photos, some in music, some in video. Sometimes a combination of several. But let’s face it, all you do in this post is talk, so why couldn’t that have been just written? Let’s face it, it could just as easily have been a podcast, you can listen to this with no image track visible, and nothing, I mean nothing, is lost (or gained). So if we shouldn’t write about vogs, we should video about this, then shouldn’t the video track, not just the sound track, be doing something? And if you think no, just commentary is fine, then I think you’ve misunderstood your own argument. If we should videoblog this then the video has to add something, if it works just as well with just audio, then why aren’t you a podcaster with pictures? I don’t care either way, because to think the only way communication works is via video is to not understand much about media, or communication.

11. “Access to the media”. Well, no. Most people in the world haven’t even used a phone. So let’s just acknowledge that we’re talking about a privileged media here. Yes, for a certain group with the education and resources who live in the first world, this is a change, not a revolution. It isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. It isn’t going to change world. What we can change is what these media objects are. There’s enought TV and radio out there, we need to work out a new way of expressiong audio visual content, then we can invent something new. Imagine if we could invent a way that made it easy for people in the third world to sample and remix and make media. New sorts of media. Because the literacies for audio visual media are so different to the literacies of print. But right now what we do is privileged. Instead lets invent something worth doing. Why would you take this to Africa if all you’re going to do is to get people to make more television?

12. I have quoted selectively from Michael’s video. This is what happens in quotation. It becomes selective, dangerously so. I don’t manipulate it by recutting, I just sample and respond. Except isn’t sampling just another form of editing? I’m editing Michael by using his video, straight off his web site, loading it into my movie. Just like I can selectively quote text, or write a blog post that recontextualises what someone else has done.

Of course I could also have used Michael’s video as the interface, but it’s too long. That’s 19MB for 4 minutes 49 seconds of commentary, 3.88MB a minute. I guess low bit rate is now longer on the table. My criticisms of this, not the content, the form.

1. Why is it 320 x 240? If you just want to show a face, why not keep it smaller. That would reduce file size by a minimum 50%.

2. Why does this matter? Because you, and me, and everyone else has to pay for our bandwidth. For what I have to pay, in Australia, for broadband at home, your 19MB costs me just under 90 Australian cents, each time I view it. Sound cheap? 10 a week at that size and I’m at 9 dollars, I get 1Gig a month, so at this bandwidth I could watch around 50, that’s let’s say 13 a week. At this size and compression that is approximately 64 minutes a week. That’s using all my bandwidth, and its costing me a damn sight more than television. Bandwidth, and compression, matter.

3. The network stutters. This is a condition of computing and the network. They crash, we make errors in our code, urls, posts, typos. There are 404s all over the place. There will never be enough bandwidth. Stuttering, dropped frames, lost attention, these are the positive and constructive constraints that we have to work with. These are not ‘outsides’ that we should imagine will one day to be solved, they are outsides to be embraced. Just like early cinema was black and white, silent, and had variable frame rates. Rather than imagine the network doesn’t stutter, let’s make work that embraces the stutter. There will never be enough bandwidth. There will never be a screen large enough. There is no art without constraint.

4. My commentary consists of multiple individual movies. They are loaded dynamically - if and when you ask for one. If you just listened to two or three of mine, then you’d only be downloading enough for that, and not the entire work. This means my work is granular, and so others can address it in its fragments and parts. It is also a simple way of being network aware - if you just want to hear, again, part 4, you shouldn’t have to download parts 1 to 3. That’d be like not being able to read an individual blog post without reading, or at least downloading, the entire blog.

5. When our work becomes as fractured as the web, as fractured as any good blog, then we can easily quote, refer to, sample, and watch, what we have to say.

13. Play with the medium. of course. To play most videoblogs, I click one button. Then consume. This is old media masquerading and mistaking it as something new, is certainly not proposing an aesthetics and practice of play. In my imaginary world you have to “play” a blog to make it work, it isn’t just consumption, and you should have to “play” blogged video to make them work. Play is more than that button next to the timeline.

To blog is to play in networks. To read a blog is to play amongst these networks. This play is active, ongoing, and creative. It is not sit down, shut up, and watch.

14. What is missing? Urls, date and time of entry, comments, a heading, trackback, access to the original post. This prototype isn’t posed as an answer but another question along the way.


note: This page forms a part of a hypertext essay by Adrian Miles. The homepage for this essay is located at:
http://incsub.org/blogtalk/?page_id=74
A long version of this paper (containing some but not all of the text contained in the hypertext version) is available at:
http://incsub.org/blogtalk/?page_id=76

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