From Kontras to Bubbe: A History of the vlog post

The first ever video blog or vlog was produced by Adam Kontras on January 2, 2000. He created the videos to keep his friends and family informed about his cross-country move from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles, California as he searched for a job in show business. His vlog, called Journey, would go on to become the longest-running video blog in history.

Here’s the video that accompanied his first written blog post: 

In November of the same year, Adrian Miles, a researcher in the University of Bergen in Norway, uploaded his own post on a video blog or a “vog” as he preferred to call it. He also created a manifesto that detailed his ideas about video blogging. He was particular to mention, “A vog is not streaming video. This is not the reinvention of television.”

Over the years, as more people gained access to high speed internet and web camera facilities, video blogs gained more attention. In 2004, Steve Garfield, a Boston radio producer, created his own video blog and declared it to be the “year of the vlog”. Radio and television stations began using video blogs as a new way to interact with their listeners and viewers. Forbes magazine picked up on the trend by 2005, and its coverage sparked further media interest.

A short video that was part of Steve Garfield’s vlog:

The founding of Youtube in 2005 hugely influenced the popularity of video blogs and online video in general. By July 2006, Youtube was the 5th most popular web destination, with 100 million videos viewed daily and 65,000 new uploads per day. The number of Youtube viewers grew exponentially since then. This explains how Youtube personalities such as Jenna Marbles have been able to gather 5.3 million views on a vlog post in a week.
Though the world of video blogging is usually considered a domain for the youth, the history of vlogging has included people of all ages. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal featured an eighty-year old Jewish grandmother “Bubbe” for her video blog called “Feed me Bubbe.” It contained a number of cooking videos for preparing kosher food. Since then, many other seniors began creating their own content through vlogs.

The range of viewers and producers of vlogs from 2000 to 2014 display a diversity of age, backgrounds and interests. It will be interesting to track how the vlog evolves as a genre from here on, and what the vlogging movement goes on to encompass.

The Vlog

Over the past decade, blogs have shifted from resembling online personal journals to being many people’s go-to sites for film reviews, cooking tips or even political opinion pieces. As more internet users share content online, some find their niche in video blogs or vlogs which can be just as versatile.

A vlog is usually considered an individual project, and so is generally shot and narrated by the same person. It could involve a person speaking directly to the camera about a chosen subject, a recording of a person’s activities or a film with images and text along with a voice-over. Vlog entries can be shot in one take or cut in multiple parts.

Youtube.com has emerged as a popular platform where internet users upload and search for personal vlogs. The tags ‘charlieissocoollike’ and ‘jennamarbles’ have become popular search terms, and are associated with the Youtube personalities Charlie McDonnel and Jenna Mourey who rose to fame through their vlog followers.

Much like regular blogs, vlogs give producers the freedom to base their content on practically anything. Some vloggers film themselves making comedic monologues, as in the famous post by Jenna Mourey, ‘How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking’, which gained over 5.3 million views in its first week.

Others create vlogs devoted to certain subjects or activities. Victoria Hart, who describes herself as a “Recreational Mathemusician,” creates educational vlogs entries explaining mathematical or musical concepts. Some of her posts have been featured on the online education site Khanacademy.

As with many internet videos, vlog entries gain popularity for a variety of reasons. Their content may click with the interests of select audiences, or may just pique the curiosity of millions of random viewers.

Watching vlog entries are much more time-intensive than going through text or photo blogs, and so may deter some people from watching them. However, like TV shows, some vlogs can cultivate devoted audiences that regularly watch every new entry. Nerdfighters, anyone?