Va-Va-Va-Video: Thinking Like Jose
by Dick Kaser
I like experimenting with media.
With video being the hot topic at ITI’s editorial shop in 2009, we decided to test video as part of our annual blog coverage of the Online Information show in London late last year (check it out at www.infotodayblog.com).
The assignment was to interview users, vendors, and analysts about the state of the industry in a mixed media format and to include a number of video segments. (I summarized the report in my column last month.) Now I’d like to share my thoughts on the experiment.
When my editorial colleagues sat down to plan the logistics, it took more central planning than usual. I was reminded that when we were in journalism school, we each had to choose a path forward … a road diverged, as it were. A would-be journalist either took the route into print or broadcast. It was one or the other, but not both. And I think there was probably a good reason why we each chose the routes we did. But as journalists, they tell me, we’re now expected to be able to tell a story in words and pictures AND know how to produce video, ergo …
It was Jose Castillo (www.thinkjose.com) who emboldened me to consider video blogging in London. Castillo conducts training sessions for ITI at our Streaming Media conferences, and I sat in on two of his classes on video podcasting last fall.
He taught me that I didn’t need fancy equipment—we could still get things done quickly without it. But mostly, he gave me courage. All things considered, I think we pulled it off, due in part to that strong dose of intestinal fortification I received from Castillo. But was video blogging at the conference any more effective than what we typically do?
When I compared the Google analytics for our London blog with the prior year, I was a little disappointed to see that traffic was up only 5% to 10%, and I’m not convinced the growth had anything to do with the videos.
As sexy as the medium is, it has some downsides: the principal one being that video is awfully linear. In fact, it’s as linear as a papyrus scroll. How is anybody going to find anything in there?
As I loaded the videos into the blog, I found myself wanting to abstract and index them. In fact, I was compelled to include summaries in the blog posts and attach multiple metatags to the videos to help the search engines find them.
But it’s not just about findability, it’s also about clickability. What makes someone commit to pushing play on a linear presentation? According to the web stats, we didn’t do enough to encourage the click-through.
One of the great things about Castillo’s courses is that he emphasizes using social media in combination with video posts to get the word out and to draw people in. We also did some of that from London, using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. But I must conclude that abstracting, indexing, and summarization are also very important. What about aggregation?
One of my pet peeves regarding blogs is that they are also fairly linear. By the time we were done blogging in London, the videos were mostly buried on pages 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the blog roll, and they became more difficult to appreciate as a set.
I’ve just added a list at what is now the top of the page, with hotlinks to the individual files so that people can better appreciate all that is available and choose which videos to view.
When Castillo advocates tying in social media, he is right in implying that video doesn’t stand on its own. In addition to producing the video, all the other elements need to be put in place: tags, summaries, pointers, and blasts. It all needs to work together as a package.
For journalists, the message should be getting clearer. We still need to be fairly specialized but not in the way we were specialized in the past. We don’t necessarily need to be jacks-of-all-trades (print producers and broadcasters), but we need to understand the new order of things and the new interrelatedness of content and delivery.
They tell me the same is true of librarians these days. We both need to think more like Castillo. We can figure it out. We can do it.