IN WHICH A DINOSAUR DEFENDS HIS TURF…Since I’ve been called out on the v-log issue — and also because I’m a little bored right now — here’s a moderately detailed defense of my agreement with Nick Yglesias that v-logging kind of sucks. However, lest anyone take this too seriously, let me disclaim up front that this is a purely personal reaction. If you enjoy v-logging yourself, that’s fine with me. Honest.
That said, here are my complaints, in reverse order of importance.
The first objection is the most obvious one: it’s so slo-o-o-o-w. A 20-minute v-log usually contains remarkably little content amidst all the interruptions, verbal tics, and hemming and hawing. I prefer my bloviating in more concentrated form. On a related note, v-logs are also almost impossible to scan, which I find endlessly annoying. I can scan a 3,000 word article in little more than a minute or so if I’m looking for a particular passage.
V-loggers tend not to think out their arguments very well before turning on the camera, which means that I usually have to sit and watch for 20 minutes as they slowly and painfully piece it together. On a purely selfish basis, I’d rather that they spend the time it takes to hone their argument and write it down in a form where I can read it quickly, instead of blathering aimlessly and forcing me to spend the time to pick out the wheat from the chaff.
Finally, I just don’t get it. There’s a reason political blogging has become popular: it’s a genuinely different medium compared to other forms of political writing. Its combination of short takes, easy hyperlinking, interactivity (with other blogs and with blog commenters), constant updating, and accessibility by ordinary writers makes it unique. You can do things with a blog that you just can’t do on an op-ed page or a magazine, and that’s inherent in the medium.
V-logging, by contrast, is just TV. It’s literally the same thing that you see on PBS or CNN or Fox, except less professional. It just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Having said this, though, I agree entirely with Matt’s final point: v-logging is great as a training ground. If the point is to get better at doing TV commentary, v-logging is probably a good idea. (Though professional media training is probably an even better idea.)
So: would this post have worked better as a v-log? Upside: I probably would have explained myself in a little more depth. Downside: I probably would have been interrupted after each one of my three points. I think this would have made my argument harder to follow, not easier. Upside: The interruptions would force me to defend myself better. Downside: the kinds of defenses you come up with on the spur of the moment aren’t necessarily very good ones.
Full disclosure: I don’t really like professional v-logging (i.e., television) very much either. Also, I’d suck at v-logging. I don’t have either the quick memory or the ability to think on my feet that successful real-time argument requires. What’s more, v-logging is hard on bloggers because we can’t just cut and paste stuff we want to comment on. We have to transcribe it first. So maybe this is all just sour grapes.