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So, on top of everything else today, the backup system to my external drive stopped working. I’m a a bit paranoid about backups these days, so, after fiddling around with it, I lodged a trouble ticket at the company. Who told me that I needed to upgrade to the new version. Mysteeeeriously, any purchase information on my backup software seems to have vanished since it stopped working, and saving all the settings and data before, at their instruction, uninstalling the old one and installing the new one… didn’t save all the settings and data. So now I’m invited to pay for the new backup software within 30 days.

Anyway, I did all that. And so the new backup software paid no attention to anything and has re-backedup everything on the laptop. Which took forever.

And then iTunes decided it couldn’t find anything, even though there’s a few hundred gig in exactly the same place it was yesterday. So I’ve ended up having to delete the iTunes library and make iTunes rebuild and rescan. Which is taking fucking ages.

None of which has anything to do with video. But video is something I’ve been thinking about again.

As I’ve said occasionally in the past, back in the 90s I really thought there’d be a point — perhaps in that distant year of 2010 — where video email would be a regular thing. I mean, I had a feeling videophones weren’t going to work. Ultimately, we repurpose the phone as a lying device too often. I’m too sick to come to work. I’m not going out tonight. I have buboes all over my face so I can’t see you today. The list of lies we use the phone for are endless, and the videophone puts paid to most of them. Also, people don’t want to be seen first thing in the morning.

(I had a couple of Nokia phones with front-facing videophone cameras. Used the videophone function exactly twice.)

But video mail? Video with intent? Video by people who just don’t like typing? I thought that might happen. I was very interested in vlogs for a while there, not because they were any good — they were mostly terrible — but because I could see great potential there, and I thought that people getting comfortable with video might turn out to be useful and fascinating. But they remain a niche thing, I think.

12seconds had a shot there for a moment, but they tied themselves too tightly to Twitter. And, really, nothing survives in the shadow of Twitter. If they succeed in building their own community (again) they might stay out of the grave…

On the other hand, Chatroulette will probably run strong for a while. Go figure.

Back to work.

Published in daybook


  1. It seems like the idea behind a vlogs has been tainted with the types of users that fester within youtube. Videos of teenagers talking about why people should treat Britney differently or their personal review of a pop culture product.

    I think some of us look away instinctively when we see video open in a kid’s room with the subject in center camera. Just to protect our minds. But maybe I just haven’t been introduced to useful vlogs. I still find I have no patience to see someone explain something over reading about the explanation.

  2. Self-generated video already has a stigma/history to it, of home movies, rubes being nailed in the crotch by toddlers and cats doing… things. Video email would be asking people who have already dismissed video as solely in the category of frivolous time wasters to not just repurpose the technology but rewire their conceptions of what video is and can be used for. Not impossible, but a pretty steep climb.

  3. Henry Quirk Henry Quirk


    “…the backup system to my external drive stopped working…”

    …is one of the reasons why I agree with this, from April 24th…

    “I don’t want to wake up and look at a screen…”

    Gimme paper (to work on, to store, to read from) any time…

  4. The problem with vlogs is I read about a thousand times faster than people speak and I just don’t have the time to sit back and listen to somebody waffle on. Surely that must be the same for most people. Information extraction speed must factor in at a high level on whether something is useful or not.

  5. vidgeek vidgeek

    on the flip side, web video, video phones & video email is very popular with the deaf population, to the point of being indispensable.

  6. Regarding ‘Video Mail’, which I’m reading as a point to point communication rather than a public bulletin medium like youtube, I think two issues are blocking it:

    1) Content manipulation. Text can be searched and parsed and easily edited. If you make a typo in IM/text/email, you can quickly fix it before hitting send. Video is much harder to deal with; to edit out a mistake you have to rerecord the whole message. Then there’s easy way to skim or search content based on context. Sure you could tag the information with metadata, but that’s a lot more work, defeating the purpose.

    2) Technology/tooling issues. Twitter wasn’t intended to be a huge public instant message tool, but it was unintentionally perfectly made for that function. It’s fast technology; light weight and simple, but it has the advantage of being simple web text, which can be done on just about any online gadget. For video mail to become popular tools will have to be as ‘fast’. There are plenty of places to post videos to everyone, but not many for the ‘mail’ scenario.

    Chatroulette is an interesting corner case because of the social context the site’s functionality enforces; it assumes random/unedited content and allows for no actual control of distribution. You content goes to whoever the site matches you with, as is. This removes the two blocking issues I’ve listed, but also renders the site useless for real, directed communication.

  7. Mathew Jensterle Mathew Jensterle

    I think part of the problem is most people’s lack of upload bandwidth. Yeah there’s enough bandwidth to do it, it’s just that compared to the “click and it’s sent” immediacy of email, any video mail is going to take a couple of minutes or more to upload with most people’s connections. and people don’t like waiting.

  8. Ken Ken

    You should give Dropbox a try. It makes for a pretty simple and effective distributed backup system.

  9. Warren Ellis Warren Ellis

    I use Jungle Disk, Dropbox and Norton for online backups, and run Memeo to backup to the external drive, as well as using Gmail to email all my work, thereby leaving a copy in the Googlecloud too.

  10. Seth Seth

    Warren, you didn’t buy a Dell, did you?

  11. Warren Ellis Warren Ellis

    I’m on a Thinkpad with a WD external drive.

  12. Jimmy Kilpatrick Jimmy Kilpatrick

    FYI, in Japan, where everything has a bright sheen of plastic and lens flare, video communications are not at all uncommon. I inquired as to why (my university has an exchange with Dayto Bunka University, this info comes from a Japanese citizen) and received a very compelling reason: data rates are so fast there that a simple click and a blink of the eye will suffice to send a short video clip.

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