Sunday, January 28

A brief and personal history of videoblogging

I was writing this for my blog, enjoyed doing it, I love to write, but I gotta run... will come back later to proof read.

In the meantime, enjoy my mud. :)

It's definitely the end of an era. As many know Peter Van Dijck sold the first videoblogging specific webservice ever. I have no doubt the new owner will bring mefeedia new direction and take it to new heights.

Mefeedia or me-tv as it was known when it started in December 2004 was definitely the start of something. It along with the yahoo videoblogging group and Fireant really defined the start of video blogging and with it this whole era of video sharing and podcasting. I'm just tremendously pleased to have been a around just to witness it.

Peter put together a beautiful brief and personal history of videoblogging over on his blog. A good reminder of where we were, what we were thinking, and how far we've come.

While Peter's selling mefeedia is definitely the end of one era for me personally, there are definitely going to be some very big things around the corner for videoblogging, mefeedia, and hopefully myself with them.

I have but one thing to say upon reflection.

Regardless of what happens the spirit of videoblogging has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations, it is still very much alive, and it's definitely here to stay.

Regardless of where we've been in the last short couple of years, those early "pioneering" days are still with us.

For more people every day it is still that magical time when every step is a new one. That spark when they realize they can take their digital camera down the street to capture the world around them and then uploading it and share it with friends and strangers all around the globe only minutes later. For these people,, it is still the beginning and it is still as equally magical.

[find youtubers video!]

The truth is 99% of the planet has yet to even consider this possibility and what it means. Therefore we are fundamentally just getting started. We are still at the very tip of a revolution in communications of which videoblogging is only a small but integral part. That idea is not just about videos, it's communicating globally through all forms of rich and personal media including blogging, photos, audio podcasts and video sharing. This is the true spirit of web 2.0, not youtube, not mefeedia, not any webservice or piece of software, but the waking of the global mind to new possibilities. New capacity is being born, not just in the number of channels of video, but capacity to communicate, to share, to interact. And these new capacities like the systems of radio, printed news, and tv before us will reshape not only individual identity, but the world around us.

As fast as it has appeared to happen, as much as we lament the "good old days" when everything was "new to us"... when we were just grasping those possibilities and being changed by their very existence and the new perspectives they offered us ... despite where we as individuals are at we must all remember what it was like to be a newbie, to be a tourist in a new land, and to come to grips with what has and what has not changed.

The drug of change has worn of, but it has left behind new realities.

Back in 2004 you could count the number of videos on the web each week on one hand. I know because I watched them and I archived them. I new there was some magic there. For me it started with the Tsunami in Nov. 2004. Never before had raw unedited video footage beat cable and satellite to the masses. Right then who I thought I was, and what I thought my role in the world changed and it is still changing. It changes every time I watch a video of someone I KNOW from a far off land, and every time I bike down the country lanes of Michigan and listen to strangers in strange lands talk about their lives, their interests and their passions as if they were me speaking of my own life and my own interests which until now I thought were unique only to me.

[find link to chuck olsen's blog]

That connection was made one day when a comments sprung up over the first person Tsunami footage on Chuck Olsen's blog one day in November 2004 about the possibility of creating a application which could automatically aggregate videos on specific topics like the tsunami and download them to my desktop where I could watch them at my leisure.

No one else may have noticed it but I spilled some of ideas that I was sitting on for years in those comments and two weeks later the object of my ideas was born... not as a result of my ideas, but because of given the openness of the web, time, and the willingness to share of oneself, the opportunities for radical deep reaching new connections between people and minds can be made.

I'm driven on to share my words and ideas now just as I was then because of this possibility of discovery and opportunity. Not only to share my ideas, but to attract people with like ideas to me. This is why I blog, podcast, and vlog... why I write such gargantuan and flawed ramblings as this, because there is a huge vast untapped potential of what is called social capital in a world where the limitations of time, and geography no longer hinder or confine important ideas.

When fireant came out and me-tv started a month later there wasn't a video sharing site around, the video ipod and iTunes podcasting directory weren't even a glimmer in Steve Jobs eye, there were only a few audio podcasts, and even fewer video blogs and most people had never even dreamed of keeping in touch with their friends by sharing videos over the net.

Yet the idea of sharing your thoughts with the world was already born in blogging. All that need be done is to take that simple concept and exercise it in video, audio or photo.

Now there are at best guess 300 video sharing sites, and 100's of thousands of people who make, watch and share videos on a daily basis. Wether you call them youtubers, or videobloggers, or whatever, this is a REMARKABLE thing.

The scale and pace of the change has been overwhelming at times and despite the continued lawsuits over copyright media at it's core, the heart of these hundreds of video sharing sites is not "theft", or entertainment, or humor... it is still people picking up a video camera and sharing their thoughts, their stories, and the world around them. Just as early videobloggers and podcasters were inspired to do by blogging.

This thing, whatever you care to call it, where we all share our ideas and the world around us via video, or photo, blog or mp3 and offer them up as part of a global discourse is not only here to stay but it is truly just getting started.

As is often said the future is already here, it's just not well distributed.

It is a great time to be alive because this revolution in communications is going to unfold over our entire lifetime as access to the internet and the hardware get cheaper and cheaper and stretch around the globe to all people.

Yesterday there were "50 channels and nothing on", then cable and satellite brought that number into the hundreds, and today there are 10's of thousands. If you still haven't found anything worth watching, let alone anything worth pointing a camera at and sharing then just give it some time because tomorrow will bring millions of channels of media. One of them might be your sisters photo sharing feed bringing the latest pictures of a newborn. Another might be videos of your friend who's traveling in europe.... and by then no one certainly not you will be bitching about production values, or the preverbal person taking into a web camera, because those people will be your friends, your family, your peers and even YOU! To argue such nonsense arguments will be as silly as bitching about spelling in email and by then you should be either be convinced the world is going to hell or realize like a kiddy little kid, this what-ever-ya-want-tocall-it thing is the best thing every!

This new thing is a revolution and it is a revolution of mass communications. Not a revolution of using media to communicate TO the masses, but one of the masses using the media to connect with each other. A revolution at least comparable to mass literacy or the advent of the printing press.

Despite what others may think I still think that's an absolutely revolutionary world changing concept.

If you have access to and participate in these things you value as a human being just skyrocketed.

We have not even breached the generation gap between those of us who grew up in a world where people on tv were all paid actors... and that of this new generation still in high school and even grade school for whom blogs, video blogging, photo-sharing, and audio podcasting will be as fluent a form of communications as the telephone, email or IM.

And we have yet to breach the push the digital-divide beyond our own shores.

What happens when the whole world awakens to these new possibilities?


Regardless of what happens next I've had a great couple of years, I'm still writing fluid stream of conscious rants, and I'm still extremely excited about what's to come.

Peace, -Mike


Anonymous said...

It's just beginning, this ability to share our own media. Thanks for the ramble.

Michael Meiser said...

Thanks for the comment Johnny.

Faux Press said...

Just found this. Great to see it through your eyes.