In the last couple of weeks I have notice that people on the Internet started talking about the trend-to-come for blogging: video blogging. The idea isn't that new and there are plenty of people doing it already: they publish videos alongside the textual content. What's new about the future concept of blogging is that it's supposed to totally replace blogging as we know it now: no more writing and reading, recording and watching instead. I've been following some blogs using video blogging and I came to a few conclusions.
How much time are you willing to spend on reading an article?
The blogs I read are focused on SharePoint 2007 and related web technologies. As you probably know MOSS 2007 is a great platform with very rich functionality which allows you to create solutions for very different purposes. Because of it there are tons of content about SharePoint on the Internet. Depending on what you do, you will find it less or more interesting.
Because the articles I read are written instead of recorded I can pretty quickly skim read a piece of the article to determine whether I want to spend my time on reading it or not. I receive daily notifications about a couple of hundreds new articles. Of course I'm not interested in all of it - you probably wouldn't be either. Notice however how much time would it cost you to get through all of it if it were videos instead of text! As long as there is no bookmarking mechanism implemented in the videos, it simply wouldn't be efficient to watch a blog.
Another thing I have noticed is, that while I read, I determine the pace I'm reading at myself. Furthermore I can define not only whether I want to skim read an article or spell each word in it, I can set the width of my reading surface, increase the font and even print the article out if I want to - just to minimize the time required to get the information I'm looking for. Could you do the same with a video? I don't think so. At least not today with the tools we have.
So how do you find a video post?
I find this one a very good question. Recently Adobe has announced that they will make Flash searchable. On the Rich Internet Applications scene there is only Flash and Silverlight. Because of the fact that only one manufacturer has implemented that technology there is a risk that a similar situation to the browsers war will find place.
Now if you look at the variety of the video formats supported on the Internet there quite a few more. Will all the formats become Search Engine friendly or only some of them? Will we be able to find the right information? And as content authors: how much time will we need to author the content?
You could always provide a description for your video to make it searchable but you probably wouldn't like the idea of publishing the content twice, right?
"One web for all" - is it?
One of the greatest concepts of the Internet is that the information should be available to anybody no matter the physical location, operating system, web browser, and device.
Videos are visual - there is no doubt about that. You get the most of it by watching it and listening to it. But what if you are visually impaired? Can you still get the essence as easy as you would do it reading? WAI has defined some guidelines on how to make videos accessible. One of them is to provide transcripts synchronized with the video. But are transcripts sufficient to provide the same information as the video does? I don't think so. So at the end of the day you will have to provide exactly the same information in text if you want everybody to be able to get to that information.
Is video blogging that bad?
I think that there are situations when video blogging will become very useful and will provide a much more rich experience than text. One of such examples is when learning new things. If you have to work in a new environment - as complex as SharePoint for example, finding the right settings and configuring the right might be quite confusing. Seeing some else doing that would definitely make the process of learning a lot easier.
Another thing is the personal preference. Just because I think that it's not time efficient to watch videos instead reading the content, you don't have to agree with me. If you don't like reading and get easily distracted, you should try watching video streams.
So what's the future?
I don't think that video blogging will ever replace its textual form. While videos provide a much richer experience, reading is and will remain more time efficient. For learning purposes videos might improve the process and lower the learning curve but for every-day use I think that we will stick to writing for quite some more time.