23/08/2014

Vlogging your life away...?



If proof were needed as to how quickly sub cultures become absorbed into the mainstream it was August’s Summer in the City event in which thousands of people and dozens of vloggers turned up for what looked for all the world like a tv show convention. Held over two days on 9/10 August at Alexandra Palace the event promised workshops, live performances and of course that peculiarly indistinct behaviour networking. There were on stage appearances accompanied by the screaming of adoring fans, there were awards ceremonies and there were lots of theories expounded by journalists as to what this phenomena was. 



It seemed so old fashioned especially as the majority of participants appeared to be young,  white, male and middle class  while the audience resembled one you might expect to find if The Vamps or One Direction turned up to promote their latest release. It confirmed that this particular strand of online culture, which was originally driven by individuals is now starting to look more and more corporate. No sooner was it over and Radio One announced more shows to be guest hosted by vloggers following the successful example of Dan and Phil who have a regular show on the station. And you know for all the cynical comments one could make about something that is obviously a few generations below me, I kind of like the whole thing at the moment. It could be more diverse certainly and it would be refreshing if some of the vloggers started to tackle more challenging things.

Tickets for this event cost –gasp- £30 for a day, not sure if bitcoin could be used to pay though. This year it seemed to attract more media attention much of it curious and bemused except for those obsessed with the money. It seems the event is organised by You Tube themselves and the first one was in 2009. Mmm, but this is all words so as it’s a video based event here’s a clip in which Dan and Phil give out awards to the YouTubers which possesses that teetering on the brink of chaos feel that all live awards ceremonies have. Some things are always the same.


ok back to the words,
I first became aware of vloggers about four years back when someone shared a video of Charlie McDonnell aka Charlieisocoollike and it seemed to tap into a very English eccentric vibe at odds with someone so young and modern. Round this time he was also asked by Ben Folds to do a video for the song `Saskia Hamilton` while the inevitable Stephen Fry had recorded a sign off which ends all Charlie’s videos. I don’t know if he was the first to hit a million YouTube subscribers but he was one of the most prominent so called You Tubers though more recently he’s appeared to struggle with the explosion of the community. I remember when he released a video in which he addressed what were essentially existential worries. It was only then that you could see the possibilities for the art form to be a genuine form of communication and sharing in a way that might stir issues even more so than either Facebook or Twitter can.
Neither noticed the giant marshmallow creeping up on them

In his and a few other’s wake what we might call the second wave of bloggers have emerged with the emphasis on being silly if not unnaturally chirpy, doing impressions and at times becoming so meta they film themselves watching other people watching them or something! It has pushed the trivia agenda at the expense of anything more important. Also if you look at the followers for today’s most popular Youtubers they seem to be mostly female suggesting that their following is as transient as it is for the latest pop or soap star. What, you wonder, will a thirty year old Joe Sugg have to say and to whom will he be saying it? Never slow to develop vloggers have already been through rigorous self examination courtesy of flame hared Ben Cook’s anarchic if overheated Becoming You Tube series. As if realising the subtext that surrounds their popularity five of them even became a boyband for a short time. As is the way with contemporary culture all of them have just been usurped from prominence by people pouring buckets of ice cold water over themselves!
More interestingly though it seems that YouTubers might have breached a significant gap in traditional broadcasting. Those with internet enabled tv have already taken to watching more YouTube than Sky or BBC and this can only continue. The methods vloggers use can of course be used by anyone to find different kinds of audiences for other sorts of entertainment. Can we look ahead and imagine a time when we’ll all be making our own tv programmes? Somewhere along the line the boundaries between television, radio and videos has been twisted together and whatever it might lead to probably hasn’t even got a name yet.
Anyone with experience of anything like this will know how it evolves and how attending something like Summer in the City can inspire the next generation and so on. 


Some brief and quite possibly spurious Vloggng `facts`


Vlog is shorthand for either Video Log or Video Blog


The first one is believed to have been made in 2000 by Adam Kntras from Los Angeles


Vlogging really took after YouTube was launched in 2005


Nobody actually knows who the most subscribed to YouTuber is because, obviously, that figure changes constantly but some people who have slightly more people watching them than read this blog include Thatcher Joe (2,7m), Zoella (0.5m), Jacks Gap (3.7m), Marcus Butler (2.8m), Pointless Blog (2.8m possibly the same 2.8m), Tyler Oakley (5.1m), Mamrie Hart (0.6m how come the girls have smaller audiences then?), Charlieissocoollike (2.3m), danisnotonfire (3.9m), Michelle Phan (1.8m that’s more like it), Jenna Marbles (13m….what? yes, 13m. Ha! Beats them all)


The figures above may change and I couldn’t be bothered to search any more.










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