The last few years, with the rising number of television channels and the phenomenon of reality shows, I would jokingly tell my friends it was only a matter of time before we'd all have our own shows. Amusingly enough, I wasn't that far off. It is, however, television in a different form–the video blog or video feed–that is quickly becoming the new alternative to mainstream broadcasting. Especially with the number of Video iPods that people purchased this past Christmas, this is definitely not something we can ignore. There are no limits to the number of channels when you select the programs you want to watch! Which means, things are wide open for anyone to produce a show and possibly find an audience.
Experimenting with vlogging – an example
Anyone who has even glanced at my personal blog already probably knows I'm a huge fan of the daily video blog (or vlog) RocketBoom. The format is a three minute segment posted every business day, and topics range from technology to unusual events to political statements. It is smart, funny, and sometimes touching. The host is the charming and intelligent Amanda Congdon. Behind the scenes is the creator, director, and editor, Andrew Baron. They are based in NYC, so one of my favourite things is snippets of street scenes.
We differ from a regular TV program in many important ways. Instead of costing millions of dollars to produce, Rocketboom is created with a consumer-level video camera, a laptop, two lights and a map with no additional overhead or costs. Also, Rocketboom is distributed online, all around the world and on demand, and thus has a much larger potential audience than any TV broadcast. However, we spend $0 on promotion, relying entirely on word-of-mouth, and close to $0 on distribution because bandwidth costs and space are so inexpensive. While TV programs have traditionally been uni-directional, Rocketboom engages its international audience in a wide range of topical discussions.
There is a real sense of play from what they are doing. They experiment with varying formats, content, intros and "outtros". They have foreign correspondents, and play pieces from other vlogs. They do "man on the street" interviews, and film local events. It is always thought provoking, whether or not you agree with the political opinions expressed. And as mentioned in the quote, it is interactive! A big part of the show is reading the reactions it gets in the comments section. I do my best to contribute something tongue-in-cheek every now and then to help stir things up. And they also invite email feedback and suggestions for future shows. I was thrilled to receive my first email back from Andrew Baron today responding to a small technical suggestion I had last week.
Create your own channel
And now comes the creation of your own Internet TV channel! Yesterday Simon Fodden sent me a link to Democracy: the free and open source Internet TV platform . At first, because of the title, I thought it was a vehicle for political vlogcasts only, but on closer look it is a clever title showing that video blogging is the REAL democratic principle in action, giving everyone a voice.
The power of this service didn't quite hit home to me until I later saw it discussed in yesterday's episode of RocketBoom. How fitting was THAT?
If you want to get into the whole technical aspect of vlogging, you find yourself delving into the world of streaming media. I recently signed myself up for the listserv from StreamingMedia.com just to familiarize myself with that industry. It's fun to be a fly on the wall in the discussions, not always quite knowing what they are talking about. Reminds me of my early days as a law librarian. Heh.
And Streaming Media even has a conference. Last year Streaming Media West was held in tandem with the KM World and Intranets conference I attended, shared in the same space. I wandered over to their part of the trade show and, I must say, it was far more exciting. And it turns out (I learned later) Andrew Barron of RB was one of the featured speakers. I probably stood in some coffee lineup with him and didn't even know it.
It seems, with all these coincidences, that it must be a small industry thus far. Smaller than blogging, smaller than podcasting. Now is the time when things are "slippery" and being defined. Now is the time to try it out and experiment!
So, the question is…..what will YOU put on your TV show??