In May of 2005 I was searching for shows/movies/videos made by independent producers on the web. I figured there had to be something interesting out there, and it took a surprisingly long time to find anything. (This was long before youtube – 9 months – 100 web years ). Finally, I stumbled upon a community that called themselves video bloggers. They had even hosted a conference called Vloggercon near the beginning of 2005. Videos of every talk were on line and I watched them all. Although my goal was just to find something interesting to watch, I quickly got drawn into the interactive nature of the community, which was at it’s core. I used a wonderful site, created by Ryanne Hodson and Michael Verdi, called freevlog, and I was strangely compelled to create silly videos of my own. I found out quickly that this community was different from anything I had experienced before. I sent an email to a freevlog help address and ended up exchanging a number of emails with Ryanne’s partner (and sort of the father of video blogging to me) Jay Dedman, who seemed very motivated to help me video blog. Although Jay was a “big wig” in the vlog community to me, this was clearly different than what I was used to. “Stars” smile and sign autographs and say nice stuff, but the idea of all the existing video bloggers at the time was to help everyone to be a “star”, which is why the word “star” is in quotes, because, of course, there were no stars here, but people communicating in new and interesting ways. When you’re a “star” you need an audience to watch you. When you’re a member of a community, you want other members like yourself to participate. This is the best of the web experience to me – community, support, and rich media distributed widely.
So I made a video blog, called it the Richard Show, posted a short video of a racoon eating from a birdfeeder, called it “ozarks birdfeeder“, and posted it. Within a day, several people, including Steve Garfield, who was – in many way – the first video blogger, commented on the video. On my second video, Amanda Congdon, the original host of Rocketboom – clearly an internet celebrity – commented, and, eventually became good friends with my wife and me. For my part, I was following many of the vloggers who were following me, commenting, and participating actively in the vlog group list. I haven’t slowed down too much since.
I presented a “creative research presentation” at the Association for Internet Researchers meeting this October in the form of a 15 minute video on the (my) history of video blogging, that sort of sums up my experience, and my take on this phenomenon so far.