Dec 112005

Joshua ©Gary Hayes 2005I often refer in my presentations to Akimbo back in May starting to deliver vlogs (videoblogs) via its IPTV service in the US. It is pretty revolutionary that alongside and at the same level on the EPG as CNN, The History Channel, BBC , Cartoon Network and Turner Movies we get personalized stories from individuals. Check out the recent additions on MyAkimbo.

It comes as some surprise then that TiVo, regarded as the granddaddy of the Personal TV Recorder are starting this week to trial the Rocketboom service. Rocketboom is described on the TiVo research site as

Rocketboom is a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City, covering a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture. With a heavy emphasis on international arts, technology and weblog drama, Rocketboom is presented via online video and widely distributed through RSS. Now, Rocketboom is available on TiVo as part of the TiVo Video Download Trial.

There is a polished feel to some of the vlogs posted on Rocketboom, and it sits somewhere between professional vox pops and citizen journalism with an element of ‘reality-driven’ drama. There is also the likeable (albeit US centric) charisma from the likes of Steve Garfield in Boston or Annie in LA that make this kind of vlogging very accessible to mass audiences. The frozen pizza cooking story from Annie would not appear on network TV, for example! Yet we also have the likes of Zach Braff of Garden State fame doing the vlog thing too – directors who like to keep it real, are. So perhaps the likes of TiVo and Akimbo allowing this kind of videojournalism to exist alongside the mainstay of network TV is a significant shift in consumer demand. After all UGC (user generated content) is all about real life (most of the time) rather than artificially scripted and reconstructed versions of it we get on mainstream TV – which is now becoming rather tired after 50 years of structure, reality TV can only go part of the way to reflect the real world. It is the real world that can only do this, not execs trapped in network TV politics.

There are a range of ‘enabler’ vlogging sites springing up that realise the potential to draw in audiences once lively, bright talent gets hold of DV cameras and starts creating real life narrative. Freevlog is one of the leaders at the moment – allowing normal people to tell their stories. The audiences for these stories is increasing as dramatically as the readers of normal ‘text’ blogs – so much so that it does beg the question when will TV ratings start to ‘really’ suffer due to this left field competition. Some say that has already started to happen but I feel it will be a slow erosion of the aggregators of professional storytelling content.

I for one appreciate more and more the honesty of people reflecting their lives, the social documentary, the personalized view of reality. Traditional journalism is being eroded by millions having access to the technology to capture what is happening (advances in mobile phone video particularly) and even more the ability to professionally edit then publish – outside the past of entrenched scarcity of traditional broadcast channels.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005