Friday, October 27, 2006

Ik zou graag naar de speelzaal.

(Advert for vlogging program)

XOLO!!! Today we were fortunate enough to have Marc von Woudenberg of visit our IES classroom. I say fortunate enough because the “lecture” (Power Point yet again) was extremely informative, at least to a not very media literate person such as myself. For those of you that don’t know, is a company that creates video blogs, or vlogs, for various businesses, including Coca Cola and BMW, amongst others.

Today was the first time that I got a clear understanding of what video blogging actually means, and also of the potential that it has. Vlogging allows anyone to make a video and post it to the internet, or to a specific streaming source. Videos that appear in vlogs, however, are different than videos that would appear on say youtube, for example, because they are presented in the form of one person or a small group of people in front of the camera, talking about different subjects. Similar to blogging, vlogging is also sort of like an online diary that other people can access. Some people (or vloggers) make vlogs simply for fun, while others are incredibly serious about theirs and make them for informative purposes. There are, of course, vloggers who mix the two extremes, and they seem to be the most successful. I think this is due to the fact that the information they present is made more accessible, and thus more enjoyable to watch, through humor.

Apparently vlogging can be quite a controversial issue as some people in our group got into a fairly heated debate with Marc over the present state and future possibilities of vlogging. John offered some criticism of the current state by mentioning how as soon as people got wind of this vlogging trend, they made vlogs about funny or ridiculous things, instead of about serious matters that could impact or at least inform the world. John eventually added that though he is completely for alternative forms of media, and also for humorous outlets, he wonders why vlogging can’t be done in a more mature manner. Rachel offered an excellent metaphor in response to this inquiry: she said that if we think of the internet, and specifically the new vlogging medium, as a child, this is its early, immature stage, and it will be a number of years before it reaches a more adult state.

A concern of mine with the whole vlogging (r)evolution is that the different sections of society who don’t have/can’t afford computers or other media consuls in their homes, or even in a more public place, will be excluded from the movement. And if all of our media sources shift more or less to the internet, will these sections of society be missing out, once again, on being informed citizens? Our class also discussed the issue of media literacy, and how children in the US public schools system aren’t receiving any sort of instruction in how to create, digest, and especially analyze the images with which they are presented, in both new and old media.

This bothered me greatly, as I see media literacy, as well as the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is exaggerated, as yet another way that the increasingly large gap between those who are privileged and those who are not will grow. Disturbing. I simply hope that my concerns will be proven wrong, and that the internet (r)evolution will continue to be a bottom-up process. However, seeing as corporations are beginning to jump on the vlogging bandwagon and make vlogs that appear to be grassroots in nature, I am a bit hesitant with this hope, especially if people already have difficulty in differentiating between what is real and what is exaggerated in the media.


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