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section heading icon     the lifeblog, the vlog and the glog

This page looks at image-based blogs, at the lifeblog (a concept that some find as unconvincing as the internet refrigerator or the flying car) and the glog.

It covers -

section marker     vlogs, vogs and moblogs

2001 saw the emergence of the vog or vlog - the web-delivered video-blog, explained in one manifesto as

a vog is dziga vertov with a mac and a modem

and four years later as

Think video. Think regular Joes and Marys acting like Dan Rather, broadcasting personal video newscasts from their kitchen counters and living room sofas.

Vlogging is likely to become more popular as video editing software and camera prices decline, usability increases, artists emulate their peers ("i want my vogs to do with video what ee cummings does with words") and other consumers embrace the claim by one software vendor that "Video blogging is personal version of newscasts, documentaries and even Reality TV".

Vertov saw film, in the words of one critic, as "the technology that will provide the utopian inspiration and practical means for the arrival of socialism", with the theatre as "a place for collective and democratic consciousness and hence democratic representation".

Problems with bandwidth, creativity and solipsism mean that that vlogging is unlikely to usher in a new millennium: most vlogs will be online versions of your neighbour's interminable travel slide show.

Avant-garde narcissists can, a video version of Twitter that allows participants to share 12 second video clips of their lives

Fans of slide shows can turn to fotologs or camlogs: blogs based on or featuring snaps from the author's digital camera. The genre is one with real potential, as the cost of digital cameras falls and familiarity with graphics editing software increases. We are hoping to find an Andre Kertesz, Dorothea Lange or August Sander among the enthusiasts for 3G devices that combine mobile phones and cameras. In the interim one example is here.

They have been hailed by zeitgeist-sniffer Howard Rheingold as a tool for moblogs: mobile/wireless web logs, rather than something produced by digital sans-culottes (the mobs that come equipped with wireless PDAs and go wardriving in search of the latest agit-pop pronunciamento from Commandante Shirky).

Using camera-equipped mobile phones for blogging - one example is here - is an interesting idea but problematical if your telco's tariff scheme punishes large data transfers from your mobile-camera.

A skeptic on Slashdot sniffed that

Blogging with your phone will only result in mis-typed entries with poorly lit, poorly framed and blurry photos of famous landmarks that you can't quite make out and the result looks kind of like New Jersey or unrecognizable people who aren't particularly attractive or even remotely interesting even if drugs and/or alcohol were involved at 3:22AM when they were filmed on the way to yet another bar or club overcharging due to the lateness of the hour or the so called exclusivity of the place. Eck

That disdain has not deterred several sites that specialise in hosting hosting blogs that comprise little more than snaps taken with phonecams. - the "Camera Phone Moblog Community" - for example explains that

with a Moblog you can post pictures, video and text direct from your camera phone to web instantly. Its fun and its free

Readers should decide for themselves whether it is also worth revisiting. Competitor is promoted as

an online community ... You can create your free online picture journal using your camera phone or digital camera and share them with friends or make new friends too! Have fun!

Insights about camlogging are provided by Peter Aitken's Camera Phone Obsession (Phoenix: Paraglyph Press 2004) and Andreas Kitzmann's Saved from Oblivion: Documenting the Daily from Diaries to Web Cams (New York: Peter Lang 2004).

section marker     audioblogging

Fans of audioblogs or autocasting - we are not sure that the sound of someone talking about their oh-so-meaningful encounter with a cheese sandwich is a great improvement on reading the text - hail them as the "transition from the silent blogs to the talkies".

In practice more eartime appears to be garnered by what were initially labelled as MP3 blogs - blogs that mix music criticism with access to music in the form of MP3 files, sometimes with the endorsement of record companies or individual copyright owners - and are now conceptualised by some as a type of podcast, discussed in a separate note on this site.

Adam Curry of iPodder thus announced

As consumers, we've been trained to think the only way you can fill your mp3 player is by either ripping your cd collection to it, or by purchasing Music tracks from a few vendors. In reality you can fill up your mp3 players with audio files that contain anything you can record. A show, lecture, weather report, love letter ... just like weblogs there's no limit to your own creativity. And now, thanks to the iPodder developers, you too can enjoy broadcasting podcasting your audio to a potential audience of millions.

section marker     the lifeblog

For some marketers, it seems, anything with 'blog' or 'log' appears magic, even if the product is not online and thus has a restricted audience.

In 2004 Nokia battled slumping mobile sales by announcing the Lifeblog - a mobile-based "Diary for the Digital Age" or "automated multimedia diary"

The Lifeblog creates a multimedia diary of your life through images, messages, and videos you collect with your phone. ... Imaging phones have become like life recorders, making it easy for people to collect life memories through images and messages. Nokia Lifeblog makes it easy for users to automatically keep, find, and share memories in a pleasant way

Nokia Lifeblog is a PC and mobile phone software combination that effortlessly keeps a multimedia diary of the items users collect with their mobile phone. Lifeblog automatically organizes their photos, videos, text messages, and multimedia messages into a beautiful chronology they can easily browse, search, and save.
In a phone, the Nokia Lifeblog automatically keeps track of photos, videos, and messages so the user doesn't have to. With Lifeblog on the phone users can browse items and share them with others. Connect the phone to a PC via USB cable to transfer the phone items to Lifeblog on the PC.
In a PC, Nokia Lifeblog provides easy browsing and searching of the items collected with Lifeblog on the phone. The PC part also helps store multimedia items. With one-button synchronization, photos, videos, text and multimedia messages are transferred from the phone. That means no more losing something to make way for more space on the phone. Lifeblog helps users keep precious multimedia items on their PC.

Microsoft spruiked its SenseCam around the same time.

SenseCam is a wearable digital camera that

automatically documents the day for later reference. For example, each time the wearer walks into a different room, the change in lighting triggers the camera to snap a 180-degree fish-eye shot. A sudden movement, a change in ambient temperature, the body heat of someone passing - these are all considered photo ops.


the sort of problems we're trying to solve are related to memory recall. Where did you leave your spectacles? Who did you meet during a previous day?

with the device's 128 megabyte memory holding around 2,000 time-stamped photos for download to a personal computer. A Microsoft spokesperson characterised SenseCam as "a black box data recorder for the human body".

We can't help thinking it is more like a Detroit 'concept car' or an 'internet fridge' - one-off wizardry that grabs media attention and diverts attention from the vendor's underwhelming performance.

section marker     the glog

The Nokia and Microsoft products are steps towards what Steve Mann has characterised as cyberglogging or cyborg blogs (aka glogs).

Mann is author of Digital Destiny & Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer (New York: Doubleday 2002), and the 1998 McLuhan Symposium on Culture & Technology address I Am A Camera: Humanistic Intelligence is the medium; our everyday living is the message.

One enthusiast proclaimed that

The Cyborg Log (cyborglog, or glog for short) is a mechanism for community. When the glog is also blogged, such as, for example, Roving reporter cyborglog, it actually does allow a large community to exist. Back in 1994 when the web was quite young, there were some 30,000 visits a day to this glog. There evolved a strong sense of community, which was quite remarkable for a glog that was also a blog, back in 1994. Now of course it's easy to do, and many people do it, and so now of course there are many cyborgs.

Others might wonder whether some of the fans should cut down on the Star Trek 'Borg' episodes, endorsing the Wilson Quarterly assessment of wannabe-cyborgs and other 'posthumans' - noted here - as

a lot of young, pasty, lanky, awkward ... white males talking futuristic bullshit, terribly worried that we will take their toys away

Wannabe cyborgs might want to explore some of the harder questions in David Noble's acute The Religion of Technology (New York: Knopf 1997) and Michael Dertouzos' The Unfinished Revolution: Making Computers Human-Centric (New York: HarperBusiness 2001).

Josie Appleton commented in 2004 that

inflated expectations are being invested in these technologies. There is an idea that they can provide people with a firmer sense of identity, at a time when people often find it difficult to see a coherent narrative to their lives, and experiences often seem insubstantial - not quite 'real'. According to Lindholm, this could be one of the attractions of the Lifeblog: 'You can see very clearly a narrative of your life; some sort of chronological sequence gives meaning to people. It really allows the user to go back and reflect on what a person's life looks like.' The idea is that this birthday or that holiday is photographed and ordered, month by month, and you can see it all before you.

But this is a flimsy form of personal narrative. A Lifelog can't give you a life - it's just a way of storing data from your mobile phone. A photograph of every memorable event of your existence wouldn't give you a 'narrative' if you didn't have one already.

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version of March 2009
© Bruce Arnold | caslon analytics