The internet is awash with perplexing neologisms, and this week we’re going to look at two of them: vlogging and vodcasting. As you might have guessed, anything that begins with v relates to video. In this case, they’re the visual equivalents of blogging and podcasting, which we’ve looked at in previous weeks. What’s the advantage of video? Well, it’s currently the most popular online medium. This popularity means that by embracing the visual culture, you can boost your visibility. In today’s post, we’ll investigate vlogs and vodcasts. You’ll find out how to watch them, and also how to create your own.
So, vlogging is essentially a visual form of blogging. Instead of posting text-based content, you record and upload a video. Typically, this is in the form of a diary (if you’ve seen Big Brother, you’ll have an idea of how it works). Google “academic vlog” or “PhD vlog” to find lots of examples. Researchers have vlogged on all sorts of topics, but some of the most useful are those that follow a particular journey, for example the final year of the PhD, or the post-PhD job hunt. Of course, these experiences could be conveyed through a traditional blog, but the fact that we can see the researcher makes it much more personal.
Take a look at the vlog channel over at jobs.ac.uk. Here you’ll find an array of researchers from different disciplines. Emma Cole is one of the best-known academic vloggers. She talks about the viva experience and starting a new job after graduation.
There’s also the Twitter hashtag #PhDvlog. You’ll notice that there aren’t that many at the moment, which means it’s still a good way of getting noticed.
If you want to create your own vlog, it’s quite simple. It doesn’t need to be a polished production and your smartphone video camera is probably adequate for the purpose. Make sure you have a mini-tripod or a conveniently placed bookcase for propping up your device, then you’re all set. For more tips on getting the best out of your smartphone, follow the steps in this simple guide.
It’s free to create a YouTube channel for broadcasting your vlog. You’ll also get access to some basic video editing functionality. If you become an internet sensation, YouTube will even pay you a share of their advertising revenue. Start small, though!
As with blogging, you need to consider a few points:
- Why are you vlogging? What are you hoping it’ll do for you?
- Who is your audience?
- What are you going to talk about?
- How often will you vlog? (make sure it’s sustainable)
Internet attention spans are notoriously short, so aim for a maximum of 10 minutes. Not too onerous, is it? You might get some of the benefits of blogging in a fraction of the time.
There’s not a huge difference between vlogging and vodcasting, and often the terms are used interchangeably. Generally, though, vodcasting is less personal. You could be talking purely about your subject and not your personal experience. The advantage over a podcast is that you can share visual material, too. For example, if you’re an architectural historian, you could make a recording in front of a particular building; literary scholars might show an illuminated manuscript.
Easily the most famous vodcast is TED Talks. Although they are presented by different speakers, it’s a series with a theme (albeit a broad one) and viewers can subscribe to receive updates. Although you can opt for an audio-only version of TED, seeing the body language of the presenter helps us to feel the emotional dimension of their ideas, and the slides are helpful for grasping more complex ideas.
As with vlogs, you can make a vodcast recording on your smartphone and upload it to YouTube. Vimeo and SoundCloud are also suitable platforms with free versions. Viewers can access vodcasts directly on these sites, or through apps like iTunes.
Vlogging and vodcasting might sound ambitious, but they do bring some advantages:
- They’re an excellent way of getting you and your ideas to a wider audience
- You’ll develop valuable technical knowledge
- It’s great practice for public speaking
You never know, you might even go viral!
Next week, we’ll look in more detail at video, including some recording techniques and software for editing your content.
Here are this week’s activities:
- Find and watch some vlogs and vodcasts, using the links above.
- Have a go at recording your own vlog (you don’t have to share it with anyone!). If you’re looking for inspiration, you could reflect on the question “What the most exciting part of your research?”
- If you’re feeling brave, upload your video to YouTube and share it with the #PhDvlog hashtag.