Saturday, June 10, 2006

VLOGGERCON 2006 - Final Draft

Something urged me to take my scooter into the city for VLOGGERCON, something I haven't done in forever. Mind you, the last time was with my ultrahip ubermod 1976 Vespa Rally 200 years ago. After too many times of the old vintage breaking down on me, I had to give up that beauty for something that didn't break down - a new Yamaha Vino. Now I get dirty looks from the cooler-than-thou kids, but at least I'm not stranded trying to kickstart my way to work anymore.

My scooter, or any scooter, isn't really meant to go more than about 40 MPH. After that speed, your scooter doesn't feel quite as safe anymore, wiggling and shaking like Michael J Fox on uppers. The scooter tho, is the quickest and easiest way across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. And if you plan it right, it's free. Most of the time traffic doesn't go faster than 55 anyway, so keeping up is not a problem, and lagging behind is less a worry than, say, on the Autobahn.

Up the eastern span, on the Oakland side, the wind kicks up and conspires to take little guys like me down and under the quad-axles of rigs and trailers steamrolling the concrete behind me. It got a little scary a few times, the wind whipping around me and causing my eyes to water even behind my glasses. The wind died down after descending on Treasure Island, and the second half across the western span was slow and easy, giving me postcard-perfect views of the city by the bay. Queue Journey soundtrack.

And so now I'm here, at the Swedish American Hall, where the VLOGGERCON is happening. I'll be taking notes on what people say. Let me know if it makes sense to you; us techno dilettantes can admittedly be nauseating. But that's because we know everything.

Stay tuned.

*UPDATE* 12 Noon to 2PM

Political Vlogging & Social Change

Kent Bye, after seeing the same news being regurgitated on all the networks, decided that he should start taping various news sources and give import to stories he believed needed a louder voice. In so doing he created a way to aggregate news media (audio & video bites) to prevent one-dimensional reporting and put them together in a format for others to view and rate. Think of it as YouTube for the news.

What exactly is it like to be homeless?
Brett Gaylor wanted to give this maligned and misunderstood group the opportunity to videoblog and to show others what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Compelling and enlightening to see what happens when your rights are taken away by those who feel you don’t deserve them.


Rocketboom's Success

Quite possibly the most well-known videoblog of the news, Rocketboom spoke of their current position as arguably the most popular videoblog on the net, how they arrived there and where they’re going.

To sum up: being boring sucks. Phenomenally, this missive is oft overlooked by most, whether they be videoblogs, podcasts, or just plain old typed blogs. Be provocative, funny, daring. Push boundries. However you do it, make it interesting. And please keep it short. If it’s not quick and succinct people won’t want to give you their precious time. In fact, they will hate you for taking their time. Daily updates, too, cannot be overstressed. Once a week will leave your regular readers dissatisfied, and the one who visits for the first time will be put off by stale news.

UPDATE June 11

Right after yesterday's post my computer ran out of gas, and since I didn't think to bring my power cord, that was the end of the day's reporting. Today, tho, I'm fully prepared, with an ultra-atomic hyper-nucleo powered generator - ain't nothing gonna stop me now.

Right after Rocketboom, Jen Simmons schooled us on how to pimp out your Blogger or Wordpress blog. Gal was boring as listening to Stephen Hawking without a voicebox, but she sure had some dope ideas to trick out a blog. All of it was in html & on a Mac, which went over my head like a Japanese opera, but it inspired me nonetheless. Not enough to actually do anything to this blog, but you know. I want to.

Then there was a forum on Community Vlogs, which I have to admit was outrageously interminable but kind of interesting because of the real-ness of it. Steve Garfield and others gave tips on storytelling & journalism for the common man (or woman), and where to find stories. What did I get from it? Stories are everywhere, but telling a good story, that's where the talent lies. If you don't have it, you can learn it, and if you don't learn it, your blog will be avoided like Pete Doherty's used syringe by all but your closest family members. And maybe Pete Doherty.

What I found interesting was the subject of Flash in Videoblogs. Our software plays back captured video in Flash, which looks super-awesome and smooth as can be and is cross-platform and easy to use, since everybody already has Flash installed on their computer - no special player to download. Plus, most of the work is done on the client side, which means less work for companies that host the video.

So with all this in Flash's favor, what's not to love? Well, a few things: flash used to suck, and even tho it has made incredible strides in quality, some people just can't shake their old misgivings like they have with diesel. In addition, most video capture devices (cameras, camcorders, cellphones) natively encode in a different format, and to re-encode in Flash requires expensive programs, niche expertise, and most of all, and most of all, time.

Or does it? It used to be, but now there are companies (like SightSpeed, among others) that will automatically render your video in Flash when you upload it, for free. Wa-bamm. Easy like Wynona Ryder. The only catch? Video aggregators like Yahoo!, MeFeedia and Google don't really crawl for Flash video yet, so your video may be overlooked. And let's face it: you're making video to be seen, you megalomaniacal diva ego junkie. In this case, Flash may not be your bag. But all that may change real soon.

After the session there was a party that hosted near the top of Potrero Hill. Relaxed alcohol conversations about the videoblogging community and various tools made for a pleasant couple hours, and the Thai food was fantastic and abundant. For a brief moment I thought it was the dotcom heyday of 1996.

Finally I went across the Bay Bridge again, with less wind to battle on the lower deck. Instead of getting off at the nearest exit, I continued another couple miles to the University exit with some joker on my 50-55 mph tail the whole time, on me like grey on two-day-old dog poo. When I finally got off, it swerved around me and some college bunny shouted something drunkenly incoherent and the car sped off. Then their lane slowed down, and I passed them. The girl then stuck her tongue out and gave the rock out sign or something. Rad. And then there was a red light. So I told them to roll down the window. The others in the car looked away, but the girl smiled and rolled down the window.

"I couldn't hear you back there, did you say something?" I love putting people on the spot to see if they'll fess up. She did.

"Yeah, you were going hella slow on the freeway." She turned to her friends and giggled. They shook their heads and laughed and kept looking down. She then turned to me again.

"Well, you were!"

"Sorry about that. See ya." I didn't care. I just wanted to see what she would do when I cornered her. The light turned green.

"It's all right!" she screamed after I sped off. "Bye!"

And now, today. It's been a long read. You can come back tomorrow if you need a rest.

I decided to not take the scooter today and be warm. I hopped in our hooptie Ford Escort Sport (aw yeah) and headed over to the city. Around Emeryville the radio started fading out. I looked at the display. 105.3 was disappearing, the volume control was disappearing, the lights were going away. Then the dashboard displayed faded. The engine began to lose steam. I started to feel like Scotty on Star Trek.

Stalling on the bridge would not be good. It never is. When someone stalls on the bridge it creates the worst snarled traffic for hours and makes you want to shoot babies with a sawed-off 12 gauge. Actually, that's pretty macabre. OK, not babies. Baby dolls.

I did not want to be one of those people that make you want to shoot baby dolls, so I turned around and headed back home to get our sturdy indestructible Toyota T100 truck. At every stop, I felt a bit of the engine's soul float out the tailpipe and into the ozone. At University and Shattuck, it almost died when the green light came on and I sped off, but it lasted only five seconds before it puttered to a stop in the middle of the street. So close!

I backed the car to a red curb and ate Indian buffet while I waited for Maceo to come and give my battery a jump. In a half hour I was home and off again, and so here I am. And what have I got for you? After I get a quick bite on the Castro streets I'll come back.

Wait. That didn't sound right.

Since I got there late, I wasn't able to see Character Building from the guys from two of my favorite videoblogs: and These vlogs are funny and brilliant and at times randomly non-sequitur and I was really keen on listening to Erik Nelson and Chris Weagel talk about RSS because I have no idea at all how to use it, but apparently these guys are the masters. In fact I need to bug them, this reminds me.

Another one I missed was the session on Journalism in Vlogging, but I think I'll just cut and paste from the program:
This presentation will flail sophomoric visual theories of neuropolitics, culture jamming, and radical media criticism like a drunken bearded sailor in an old Viking Hall (truth in advertising), and serve it up authoritatively with rarefied supersized dollops of righteous yammering pontifically parsed...all for the squaling delight of the vlogging community.
Makes me kick myself for missing it.

What I did see was Mashups and Remixing from Vloggers, and all I can say is Josh Leo is a genius. He uses his Mac and Garage Band to create hyperstylized video that will blow you away. At least I think he does. There was this one video, and man it was sweet. I think it was his. Not sure though. But pretty sure.
*EDIT* I was right! Josh sent me a link to the video, you must see it here.

And finally, there was the aforementioned Jen Simmons, who was a bit more caffinated than the day before, and Michael Verdi, the man who has helped many a newbie to grasp all the basics and some of the intermediics and advancedics of videoblogging. The last session they MC'd was The Undiscovered Country. Prognostics? Maybe. Hopeful? Definitely. Videoblogging is the next big thing, people. And it's getting easier and more fun everyday. Can't wait for VLOGGERCON 2007.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


i really enjoy reading your blog. If i were you i would go to and submit this blog and let thousands of others see it for free. well thansk again and i look forward to all the updates.


June 11, 2006 6:46 PM  
Blogger Meepers said...

Sweet potato pie that sounded like fun... oh gaahhhd I'm SUCH a nerd for admitting that. Also that I desperately want to hear/read the Tips on Pimping out your blog due to my negligible html skilllz. And that I would totally LOVE to go to BlogHer in San Jose this year. SIgh. Nice to be back home.

June 13, 2006 2:43 PM  
Blogger the sightspeed guy said...

Well why haven't you posted video on your blog yet? Helloooo? Our software's free. Plus this is your excuse to get the kewl new Mac with the built-in iSight. I've seent it. Lovely, it is.

June 14, 2006 9:58 AM  
Blogger Devlon said...

Hey Peter.

I saw you once or twice at Vloggercon but I was always in the middle of a conversation and didn't get a chance to chase you down.

Sounds like you had a great time. So did we!

June 16, 2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger the sightspeed guy said...

karaoke would have been fun, tho :)

June 16, 2006 2:19 PM  

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