BlogTalk Paper

I’m busily writing my paper for the upcoming Sydney BlogTalk. Since the work is going to be published electronically I’m going to cause some mayhem by writing it as a hypertext (using a beta OS X version of Storyspace). I’ll aggregate all the nodes together and probably turn that into some sort of odd structured pdf document, possibly with embedded video, but I want to return to the academic hypertext writing that I used to pursue. And give the beta a bit of a going over.

This is the abstract:

Media Rich versus Rich Media (or why video in a blog is not the same as a video blog).

Digital video is now approaching the accessibility of still images and text online. However, while text has a very high level of ‘granularity’ (for example you can link from any piece of text to any URL), and the still image rapdily developed similar technologies (eg imagemaps) the same has generally not been the case for video and audio.

This poses significant problems for video and audio blogs as their lack of a similar granularity prevents the development of genuinely blog like qualities in these emerging genres. In a traditional blog an author can link from any unit of text to any other network object. Similarly blog engines have developed sophisticated tools that expand on this ability, so that the minimal unit of a blog – the post – has a discrete and permanent address to facilitate linking. In addition trackback, pingback, comments, posting date and time, permalinks and idiosyncratic metadata (for instance categories) are all able to be applied to relatively minor and autonomous chunks.

This technical nature of the blog has been integral to their developement and success as a genre, and is what has allowed blogs to shift from being merely personal and singular journals towards a genuinely networked, collective, and emergent writing practice. It is, if you like, the epitome of Weinberger’s “small things, loosely joined”. Video and audio, on the other hand, even in networked contexts, tend to be small things tightly joined. What is required for video and audio to become viable blog media is for them to become, in their turn, loosely joined.

In such a scenario video (and audio) would be expected to have the same qualities as text within a blog. There would be links within the video to other networked objects, including other video entries. Like imagemaps, parts of the video image could also include discreet links, so that clicking on different parts would in fact take the reader to different locations, just as different links within a single text blog post may do. There may be time based links, so that when you choose to click may affect the link destination. Video and audio comments, in the form of annotations, would be supported, as would quotation – I could quote part of a video or audio post within my video or audio post. This should be as easy to do as using text in any contemporary blog CMS. However, such a scenario raises significant problems. For example, how should comments appear? What file format or formats should be supported, why? How? How should quotation work socially and technically – embedded as a window in a window or as a link to the external video? Or something else?

None of these problems (all of which have been historically dealt with in blogs) can be addressed until we develop tools that make such video and audio blogging possible. Existing technologies support all that I have described, yet our tool sets remain firmly entrenched in the assumption that video is more like a book than a blog – fixed, linear and closed.

In this presentation I will present prototypes of videoblog posts that demonstrate each of these possibilities, and introduce the recent developments in videoblogging.


n.a. Annodex.Net: Overview. Open Standards for Annotating and Indexing Networked Media. n.d. n.a. WWW. Available: March 16 2005.

n.a. Quicktime for the Web: For Windows and Macintosh. Third Edition ed. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2004.

Weinberger, David. Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web. New York: Perseus Books, 2002.

Hoem, Jon. “Videoblogs as “Collective Documentary”.” Blogtalks 2.0: The European Conference on Weblogs. Ed. Thomas N. Burg: Donau-Universitat Krems Kulturwiss, 2005. 237-?.

Manovich, Lev. Soft Cinema: Ambient Narrative. n.d. n.d. Web. Available: March 16 2005.

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