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Discovering Videoblogging

A videoblog is a collection of video files posted to the Internet using a method that makes it easy to update content quickly — combining the usability of a blog with video files. There are many different definitions of videoblogs, and fussing over the distinction between a videoblog and just video on the Internet, but here are the core qualities that most videoblogs should have:

  • Video that can be downloaded and played outside of your Web browser. This means the video is a downloadable file, instead of a streamed video or an embedded-only format. A lot of Flash-based Web sites, which may have cool interactive animation, aren't really videoblogs because you can't download the animation and play it without being connected to the Internet, although Flash videos, which are different from Flash interactive animations, usually can be saved and played. Similarly, streaming video, although useful for longer videos, doesn't really fit into the concept behind videoblogging, because it downloads while you watch it. If your video can't be saved to someone's hard drive, then your viewers can't put it onto an iPod or download it overnight while they're asleep.
  • A regularly updated blog format. Most videoblogs use a standard blog format. It's not strictly necessary to have a videoblog format — certainly, you can update a Web page and your RSS feed file manually every time you want to post a vlog entry — but that's time-consuming. If you really dislike the blog layout and appearance, you can customize it, if you know some HTML and have a good eye for design. But if you offer the third quality, an RSS feed, chances are many of your viewers won't see your beautiful design anyway.
  • An RSS feed with enclosures. With an RSS-enabled videoblog, people can subscribe to your feed and download your videos whenever it's convenient for them. RSS readers will often check feeds on an automatic schedule, so when you post new entries, you can be confident that your subscribers will receive them. An RSS feed is what makes videoblogs work for most people, and what makes videoblogs work in iTunes.
    RSS, Atom, and Media RSS are all similar (and, thankfully, compatible) XML-based technologies that allow users to subscribe to your videoblog feed. When you include enclosures in the feed, you send along a file, like an image, audio, video file, along with the blog's text. The subscriber can then view the blog entry in a separate reader.

Not every videoblog has all of these qualities. But most videoblogs do, and new videoblogs can meet a lot of resistance if they don't have them.

The reason behind having these qualities is simple: Videoblog watchers want to download the video without having to sit and wait. They want to watch it at their leisure. With the new generation of mobile video-viewing devices, many vlog-watchers want to download videoblogs onto iPods and PlayStation Portables and watch them when they're away from the computer.

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