The Problem with Video Blogs

A few blogs I read have started experimenting with video blogging and it’s made me realize that I’m not a video blog… watcher(?).

If content is written, I can read it at my leisure. I can search through it, I can get it on my Blackberry during a boring meeting, I can do pretty much whatever. I can read a few paragraphs, switch to something else, and come back. Worst case scenario, I forget where I was and I can very quickly skim the article again to jog my memory.

Audio content is OK, but not great. It demands a bit more attention.

I’m not one of those folks who can write a term paper and watch a movie and talk to someone all at the same time. The result of me trying to multitask my I/O like that is nothing gets my full attention. I won’t know what’s going on in the movie, my paper will end up taking a long time to write and won’t make sense, and the conversation will dwindle.

I bring that up because with audio content, I can’t listen while I’m working. I’ll lose my train of thought. (I can listen to music, but generally stick to stuff that doesn’t have words or stuff I’ve heard so many times I don’t focus on it.) I can’t listen while I’m home, either, because generally the audio blogs/podcasts I’m into aren’t things my wife’s into.

That leaves my 15-minute-each-way daily commute. Given that, it takes me two or three days to get through an hour-long show like This American Life. Five days per week means I get about one-and-a-half podcasts in. I have to really pick and choose. In many cases, I end up doing a lot of deleting without listening because I can never catch up. (I’m looking at you, 30-minutes-three-times-a-week-Planet-Money. And has Hanselminutes been getting longer or is it just me?)

Which brings me to video blogs/podcasts/whatever. This is the worst of all worlds.

  • I can’t do anything with them while I’m working because it’s not even just audio content, it’s video, too.
  • I can’t do anything with them on my commute because it’s video. Plus, most times the video is on a site like YouTube where you can’t even download it and listen to the audio.
  • I can’t do anything with them at home because, frankly, if I’m going to sit down and watch something, there are plenty of more entertaining things I can watch to help me unwind than technical videos.

It’s the same problem I have with the phone. Instantly single-threaded. I might be able to do something that doesn’t require much brainpower at all, but basically, phone + me = useless.

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