January 2006


Willing Warrior

Warning: This is not meant to be an attack, rather it is constructive criticism, which could (and probably will) be interpreted as an attack by the focus of my critique.

For those of you who carefully pay attention to my sidebar (population: zero), you may have noticed that I’ve added WillingWarrior to my listing, along with the note “Vlog” after his name. For the record, WillingWarrior and I have a lot in common: both of us are thirty-something gay American expats—he is in Chile and I am, of course, in Germany.

As I think I’m probably the most podcast aware of my core readership, let me explain: while podcasts are audio programs one can download to your mp3 player, a vlog is a “video log”—requiring one to watch. This either requires one of the new video iPods or it requires sitting at your computer.

And therein is the first problem, at least as far as I am concerned. I don’t own a video iPod, nor am I going to buy one. When I’m using my iPod, I’m walking around, taking the train, or doing other things that require my visual attention be directed outward not downward.

So, that leaves me watching the Vlog on my computer.

Unfortunately the WillingWarrior’s Vlog tends to be a rather passive form of entertainment—so although I like listening to what he has to say, I find that my fingers wander and I surf the web, type blog entries, and occasionally play games while he talks.

I made a specific point of not letting my eyes and hands wander during WW6 and WW7. In WW6, both WW and a francophone Swiss Dude whose video was included put words on the screen to add commentary to what they were saying, but… quite frankly, I didn’t really need to see the video to understand what was being said. WW7 was marginally better, including a “homophobia” PSA that might have been slightly disorienting had I only been listening and not watching—but ultimately still, the core message got through without the need to watch.

This reminds me of Linda Ellerbee’s first book, “’And So It Goes’: Adventures in Television”, in which she talks about television news. One point she made in the book, was that if you can turn the television news on, walk into another room, and listen to the news and understand all of the news, what you are really getting is radio with pictures. (I would quote her directly, but the book is in a box in a basement in Bloomington.)

And that’s the problem: The episodes of WillingWarrior that I’ve watched (err… listened to) are essentially audio programs with pictures, and the pictures have not, when I’ve been watching, been all that important to understanding what is being said and expressed.

So should WillingWarrior ever read this (and I presume he will), I think you need to first focus on the visuals, then worry about the audio since vlogging is a visual medium. Make me want to watch your video, for if I don’t find the video compelling a few months from now, I probably won’t be watching.

Or listening.

So I am putting this in the extended entry for Willing Warrior.

After I wrote this entry, I watched WW9 and WW10—which were actually worth watching. There was actually unique video, compelling video—stuff to learn about.

However, I was still a bit uncomfortable, albeit for a completely different reason: I’m not sure it’s wise, as an expatriate, to be actively and loudly supporting one candidate or another in a political campaign. It’s one thing to be an observer video-recording what you see. It’s fine to support one candidate or another. But to actively campaign is a whole different story.

For example, I’m generally opposed to Americans telling Germans whom to vote for, for if Germans were to try and take an active role in telling Americans how to vote, I suspect Americans would be more than a bit upset.

That said, WW9 and WW10 are compelling viewing.

2 comments to Willing Warrior

  • mateo

    Just remember, Adam, that some people absorb and retain information better visually than aurally, while others do best having both. So even if you may not need the visual part for proper understanding, others out there might! 🙂

    Sorry…I always have to play “devil’s advocate”!!!

  • Before commenting on the original entry, please read the extended entry immediately above.