Scoble’s Achilles heel is video

Video is the future of the Internet, right? Everybody knows that — Google buys YouTube, the Skype boys launch Joost, video blogs are the bomb, etc., etc. And there’s no question that a well-done video clip can be incredibly affecting, and moving. But is it a great information-delivery tool? I would argue that it is not. Visual? Yes. Emotionally powerful? Yes. Packed with information that is easily understandable? No — or at least very rarely.

In a nutshell, I think that is part of Scoble’s much-talked about problem with Engadget. Forget about whether Engadget has a policy of not linking to blogs, or has it in for Scoble, or is getting too big for its britches and thinks it is part of the mainstream media now, or whatever the former Microsoft blogger is getting at in his rant about how Engadget didn’t link to his “scoop” about Intel’s new chip process.


Stay with me here. Scoble initially said that Engadget ignored his video for Podtech, but as Engadget writer Ryan Block describes it in his long post on the topic, an Engadget staffer looked at Scoble’s video and didn’t see enough newsworthy content to justify a link. The bottom line, I think, is that Scoble basically toured Intel’s plant and got some video of employees in clean-room “bunny suits,” etc. and a comment about the new 45-nanometer process, and that’s pretty much it.

Is the new process important for the future of computing? Sure it is. But the fact is that the New York Times story, which Scoble craps on everybody for linking to instead of him, does a better job of explaining why it’s important than Scoble’s videos do. In a lot of ways, his videos make a nice accessory to the story — but they don’t *tell* the story. At least not for me. But then, I’m a word guy, so maybe I’m biased. But James Robertson agrees with me (and so does SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill), and TDavid thinks Scoble could use some time with a video editor (although Robert disagrees in the comments below).

24 thoughts on “Scoble’s Achilles heel is video

  1. > But is it a great information-delivery tool? I would argue that it is not.

    Hmm, let’s see. You can’t print video. You can’t easily skim it for relevant facts. You can’t copy and paste passages to quote in your posts.

    OK, online video is not a great information-delivery tool.

    Let’s also not forget that the video looks to be paid PR for Intel. I don’t know this for sure. I tried to see what the relationship is between Intel and PodTech. This should be easy to find on PodTech’s website in the About section. But it’s not spelled out. So I don’t know.

  2. If anything, I think they should be shorter, Howard. And they should have more text to go along with them if Scoble wants to have more impact and get linked to more. Just my two cents.

    And Dominic, I can see why you would say that about the Intel videos — Podtech does do corporate podcasting, and as far as I know Intel has been the subject of said podcasts, which would effectively make them a sponsor.

    However, Scoble’s video was a pretty good introduction to Intel’s new process, and that is definitely newsworthy, as the NYT story showed.

  3. It would have been different if Robert had scooped everyone a day or two ahead of the official announcement.

    Also, if it was a nice three-minute job explaining the process, then perhaps it would have been more attractive for people to link to it. I saw on one of Robert’s pieces where he said part of the video was “boring.” Now, why would I send my readers to something that the producer says is boring?

  4. Like I’ve said before, I don’t watch a lot of video online.

    What would make video more attractive to me?

    – Integrated table of contents
    – Searchable transcript that links directly to clipmarks
    – Pop-ups to more info

    I have to agree on the attention span thing that I’m much more like to watch a 3 minute video than a 10 minute video. Even if I’m looking at a photoshop tutorial video I have a tendency to skip forward through it because I find it’s going too slow.

  5. If Scoble is blogging for the links or they’re that important to him, then he should take a good look at why he’s blogging. The way his rant comes across is he would be upset if the video was viewed 500,000 times but only a handufl of people linked to it. Strange.

  6. Dominic: part of my thing is I don’t edit. My videos are of conversations. Even a boring part of a conversation might be interesting to someone, or might have an interesting fact, or an interesting insight. Not everything will be an MTV-edited video of Paris Hilton. Compared to that everything is a little boring.

  7. I agree, Nick — Robert as Achilles is a stretch. Narcissus, maybe? πŸ™‚

    And thanks for the comment, Robert. I can sympathize with your desire to approach a conversation holistically, but don’t you think a little editing would serve your purposes better in terms of appealing to a broad audience?

    And what do you think of the thesis of my post — would I be wrong to assume that you disagree?

  8. Mathew: you assume I’m going after a broad audience. I’m going after an audience that cares to chew on something in more depth. If you have only two minutes then I’ll send you to TechMeme (or, my blog, where I put a “quick transcript” of the Intel video up, with all the pertinent facts).

    I don’t think you should compare my videos to the New York Times. Not the same thing.

    I’d rather have a senior technical fellow explain directly to me what’s important about something than read the NYT article. But, then, I’m interested in the topic. Passionate about it, even.

    I care about the passionate ones. The rest can read a newspaper, or, worse, watch CNN where they’ll spend 30 seconds on a topic like this.

  9. But as I’ve suggested to Robert, it’s possible to do *both*. Attract an audience with a shorter, nicely edited video that packs some information and doesn’t waste a casual viewer’s time. In addition, offer the full raw interview for those interested enough to “go deep.”

  10. Robert, I’m only comparing your videos to the NYT because I think that’s the same kind of comparison the editors at Engadget might make when deciding whether your video was worthy of a link or not — that’s all.

    I think your videos have a lot of value, and it’s obvious that you put a lot of time and thought into them.

  11. Curiously Matthew, I came to the same broad conclusion as yourself. I found more context with the NYT which is much more important for a story. IMO. Robert points up one of the problems without recognising it – different audiences, same story, different angle. But then would you necessarily point to a video which, in parts, Robert agrees is boring? Whenever we write, we editorialise. This is something Robert chooses not to do in his videos – fair enough. Policy has consequences. This is one such. Unlike you, I don’t find the content on ScobleShow especially compelling. I do find it of social historical value but that’s about it.

  12. Steven: is that unexpected? Mathew is an interesting guy, I’d expect an interesting conversation to happen here thanks to the audience he’s aggregated.

    Funny, here I linked to a video that has none of the problems you discuss above (it’s edited, was professionally shot, had an audio person, a producer, etc etc).

    Yet look at the first comment that came in.

  13. I actually like the raw, unedited feel — I loved the informal nature of the one you did with Jonathan Schwartz, for example (and said so here). I just like ’em a little shorter I guess πŸ™‚

  14. This debate is like a fence; a fence of which I want to stand on both sides. There’s something about video on the web that is powerful in a grassroots way – in a similar way to the grassroots nature of blogging. Additionally, video carries a lot more emotion with it, and even entertainment value. I always enjoy watching episodes of The Scoble Show, MacBreak, and the link.

    Here’s my counterpoint, though: I read a hell of a lot faster than anyone can talk to me in a video. Scoble himself is a feed machine, as he’s noted on his blog many times. When considering my own pattern of consumption, I get my information from words, and then check out some videos as an after-thought.

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