Tuesday, January 04, 2005

East Asia Tsunami leads to Blog explosion

Video Blogs Break Out With Tsunami Scenes By ANTONIO REGALADO and JESSICA MINTZ Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL January 3, 2005; Page B1 When twenty-one-year-old Jordan Golson launched his Web diary, or blog, in early December, his conservative views on news and politics weren't exactly in demand, attracting about 10 surfers a day. But by last Thursday, he was struggling to keep his site named "Cheese and Crackers" up and running as it racked up 640,000 hits. The difference: tsunami videos. Mr. Golson's site -- at jlgolson.blogspot.com -- is just one of dozens of locations on the Internet hosting amateur videos of the Indian Ocean disaster. Many have been deluged with visitors eager to see more of the gripping footage than TV offers, or to watch videos over and over again on their own time. Some of these "video blogs," like Mr. Golson's, are pre-existing text blogs, which typically include commentary and views on current events.Others have just sprung up in the last week. WaveofDestruction.org, created by an Australian blogger to host tsunami videos, logged 682,366 unique visitors from last Wednesday through Sunday morning, and has more than 25 amateur videos of the impact so far. "The ease of putting something online is pretty much instant," says Geoffrey Huntley, the founder of Wave of Destruction. "At a media company, I'm sure there are channels you have to go through -- copyright, legal, editorial, etc. Blogging is instant." Even before the tsunami, media watchers had predicted that 2005 would be a big year for video blogging, also known as vlogging. Jay Rosen, chair of the Department of Journalism at New York University and a media blogger himself, says the unique videos of the waves hitting shore could be a "breakthrough" event for the Web. Last year, video bloggers already showed their muscle by rapidly distributing a clip of singer Ashlee Simpson caught lip synching on "Saturday Night Live," and another of the Daily Show's Jon Stewart clashing with the hosts of CNN's "Crossfire." According to Andreas Wacker, founder of blogsnow.com, a site that ranks blogs, the Crossfire video was downloaded by more people on the Internet than saw it on TV. "When the Internet wants to see something, it sees it," he says. Even so, the genre is still in its infancy -- and like much on the Web, its protocols are still evolving. To obtain the videos, many bloggers linked to TV Web sites, pulled them from Internet bulletin boards or snatched them from each other, in a chaotic rush to make the unedited scenes available to curious surfers. There's a big premium for dramatic videos showing the moment the waves hit land.

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