Why I probably won’t watch your vlog or listen to your podcast – and why I probably won’t create my own

It seems like podcasts and, especially, vlogs (video blogs) are where it’s at. All the cool kids are doing one. Some vloggers and podcasters have become Internet famous!

Will podcasts and vlogs leave traditional blogging in the dust? I worry that I’m out of step that I don’t make my own — and that I don’t follow any.

Well, hardly any. For the right podcast or vlog I will make an exception. I call it the Osgood Exception.

Charles Osgood. CBS News photo.

During my 1970s kidhood we listened to the radio over breakfast. We always tuned to the station that played middle-of-the-road music and CBS news on the hour. Being a CBS station, they also carried The Osgood File, a little vignette written and read by Charles Osgood. More than 40 years later, he still does four Osgood Files each weekday for CBS Radio. And he even makes them available on the Internet now as podcasts!

It was the perfect podcast before anybody could even conceive of the idea. Each one is a human interest story, crisply and engagingly written. And best of all, each one is short, clocking in at about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

As a kid, my whole family piped down for the 1 minute and 45 seconds it took to listen to an Osgood File. We could pack it into our busy mornings with no problem.

That’s the Osgood Exception: is it interesting and can I listen to it quickly and easily?

I will always prefer to read a blog post — I can do that anywhere. I’m not going to listen to your podcast or watch your vlog in a waiting room or in the can. I don’t want the sound to fill the room and I won’t carry headphones everywhere.

And how much of a time commitment are you asking of me? The shorter the better. I can skim and scan a blog post, but when I launch a podcast or vlog there isn’t any good way to cut to the good stuff. I have to listen through. So deliver the goods fast and I might stick around.

If it’s too long, it becomes like a television program: something I have to schedule time for. For the little time I have for television, the competition is fierce. Your podcast or vlog is going to have to be stunning to make the cut.

So the list of podcasts and vlogs I’m willing to follow is very short. A model podcast, one I do follow, is called Agile in 3 Minutes. (It’s about software development, which is what I do for a living.) See what the podcaster did there? He tells you right away that you need a bite-sized amount of time to listen to his podcast. I can listen to it quickly while cooking breakfast or while taking a quick work break. And it’s easy to listen to as it uses simple language, spoken clearly. That removed pretty much every barrier to me sampling his work, and now I’m hooked.

There’s a vlog I want to like. It’s by a blogger fairly well known in software-development circles who writes unfailingly interesting blog posts. But on his vlog, the stuff I want to hear is interlaced with cut scenes of him walking or driving through his city and interacting with his family at home. And his videos sometimes go on for as long as 10 minutes. I just want him to cut to the chase, tell me what he has to tell me, and end it already! I’m about to unsubscribe.

♦ ♦ ♦

I could probably make my own podcast or vlog. A podcast would be easier: I’d need to buy a good microphone. I happen to own audio-editing software already. While my radio voice is rusty, with a little practice it would be fully sonorous again. And I do know how to write for audio, which is different from writing to be read.

Vlogging is another matter. I could do it quick and dirty with my Canon PowerShot S95 on a tripod. The video would be serviceable and the audio would be tinny and include ambient noise, but at least it would be a way to start. But ultimately I’d want to invest in a good camera and microphone.

I could just write a podcast and film myself reading it. That’s all some vlogs are: a talking head. An especially attractive or animated talking head can be interesting. But I’m a reserved middle-aged man; therefore I fit into neither category. So I’d have to do something else creative to make it more than a talking-head vlog, which would require extensive shoots and editing.

All of this would take time away from blogging. Which is what I really want to do. So if I’m to be left behind by popular podcasters and vloggers, I guess that’s how it has to be.


21 responses to “Why I probably won’t watch your vlog or listen to your podcast – and why I probably won’t create my own”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    I think there is a generational component. My kids (20s) listen to podcasts all the time but I don’t. I have wondered if I should experiment with one but I don’t have the time to do all I want/need to do as it is.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, I did just fully ID myself as a geezer with this post.

  2. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    I agree Jim, when it comes to video commentary, I have the attention span of a gnat.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Most of us do!

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Sounds terrible, but anyone sends me anything that takes longer than 3 minutes to watch or listen to, and I haven’t got the time! It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I don’t have the time NOW, and then I don’t know when I’m going to have the time to schedule it…someone sent me an audio download of an interview that is listed as 50 minutes, and I thought, “…you have got to be kidding me…”.

    I have a buddy who is paying for the largest amount of storage he can get, on programming from his cable company, and it’s automatically downloading stuff every day that he really, really, wants to watch. but it’s full, so every day, he’s also deleting stuff he hasn’t watched! I think I calculated one time, that it would take him almost half a year of 16 hours days, to watch everything he’s got on that drive.

    Funny thing is, I get the Sunday New York Times, and a lot of magazines as well, and I have no problem reading long form stories for enjoyment or content. I think it’s based on “accessibility on the fly” . I’m sitting around the house, and I pick up the paper and start reading again. I’m going to the park to smoke a cigar, and I roll up a magazine and put it in my pocket. I would have to buy the equipment, buy the connectors (especially if it’s for the car), then set it up to work properly, make sure I have to correct software, and then download podcasts, vids, whatever, and then watch or listen to it (which I can do walking around, provided I own the equipment). That kind of stuff is a boon, for the people who want to be involved in the technology of that kind of stuff. For me, it’s a lot of tech time I don’t want to spend.

    I manage 14 people, and I keep a little calendar page of the year, in a binder, for each of them. I mark the vacation days they take, while I’m putting them into the computer system. When they inevitably ask how many days they have left, I can flip that binder open and tell them in less than a minute. Another supervisor asks why don’t just check on the computer, and I tell her, it’s because I have to get into the program (1987 built ms-dos, no less), get through 4 screens of security, get into my departments records, and run a query! I think there’s a whole lot of people, that when they made a pack with the digital devil, they also decided to never look at the most efficient way to do things any more. JUst go the digital route every time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You put your finger right on it: if we can consume it bit by bit as we have a minute here and there, we are willing. If we have to stop everything to take it in, then we’re a lot less likely to do it.

      I’m just enough younger (and, I’d wager, geekier) than you that I will put info into a computer system every time. Paper? Bah!

  4. George Denzinger Avatar
    George Denzinger

    Vremya. (Russian for time). It’s all about vremya. I’m in the process of putting the house up for sale, so we’re dropping everything we don’t need. I just went down to the lowest package on our tv/phone/internet connections, and we’re trying to shed the accumulation of 18+ years in this house.

    I guess that’s why I’ll never have my own blog, because I don’t think I have the time…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Zeit. Nie gibt’s genug.

  5. jon Avatar

    Hi Jim, I’m with you, who has the time? I do listen to the Film Photography Podcast which I find very compelling. I think of it as a young person thing…..Jon.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do like the FPP when I can make time for it. I listen to about one or two a year. It’s interesting, always. What I find is that sometimes I can listen to it while doing housework.

  6. jmnowak Avatar

    TV is good enough for me. The occasional YouTube music video that goes around 3-4mins. I find reading long blogposts more than two paras long very offputting these days unless it has a headline grabber and is well written. My attention span is that of a flea. On this subject, I think I’m like you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I try very hard to make my posts have grabbing headlines and be well written, because I think lots of people lack the time or interest to read every thing that vies for their attention. There’s so much to read/watch these days!

      When I was a kid, TV had NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and maybe one or two independent stations. You might get a daily newspaper and a couple magazines. I remember watching/reading stuff I was only mildly interested in simply because I had the time!

  7. hmunro Avatar

    I agree with J P Cavanaugh that there is probably a generational component to vlogging and podcasting (podding?!) — but having a preference for blogging doesn’t make you geezer, Jim. Maybe it just means you have a greater appreciation for linear storytelling, or that you yourself have a preference for visual learning. Well … no matter the platform, your content is always excellent.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well, I’m a writer first and foremost, so I’m bound to gravitate to a blog over a podcast or vlog. Thanks for the compliment!

  8. davidvanilla Avatar

    Who am I to tell you this, but good writing requires thought, effort, editing, and presentation that is pleasing. Unfortunately, even the best of bloggers who default to vlogging is off my list for the reasons you cite, and bluntly, most are not good at oral presentation, especially if accompanied by their “selfie” like video. I’ll stop now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have been practicing blogging for a decade now, so I’ve learned a lot about it. To do a credible podcast or vlog, I’d have the same “startup costs” in terms of learning. I’m not sure I want to go through it again!

      Yes, often the production values in podcasts and vlogs is poor. The content had better be wicked compelling to overcome that!

    2. Reena Saxena Avatar

      Fully agree. The Aahs and Umms on a video talk, take away from the intent of the piece.

  9. Sam Avatar

    Hmm, Jim I think I’m worse and more behind the times than you man because I don’t listen to any vlogs or podcasts at all! I did try, many years back to listen to some, but I just couldn’t get it. Between writing my blog, checking other peoples blogs, and watching YouTube I think I’m swamped as it is :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh no! Behind the times! How will you ever have a satisfying life!?!?!!?!!?! :-)

      Yeah, there’s only so much time in the day. Do what you like with it!

  10. webbermd Avatar

    Just found your blog looking for advice about vlogging on YouTube. You and your subscribers’ comments gave me much to think about. I have only been seriously blogging for 2 years and started a YouTube Channel to reach a different community. Blogging and vlogging is about the same a person who loves to sail versus a person who loves to jet ski. I enjoy the blogging community more and creating videos has been a challenge. Lighting, sound, editing software, and types of cameras has been a steep learning curve for my wife and I. It’s going to take us a while to perfect it, but I understand your debate on whether to expand into that arena. Thanks for the advice and thoughts about the subject. This small blog is now following yours.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your valuable experience on the difference between blogging and vlogging! It makes me even more sure I’m sticking to blogging. And thanks for the follow.

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