Thursday, December 08, 2016

I'm Going to Start Experimenting With Video Blogging

If you can't be bothered to read this whole post, let me quickly some up the main point:

I'm going to start experimenting with doing video blogging as a supplement to my book and movie reviews.

...that's it really.

If, however, you're curious as to what chain of events led me to this decision, I'll be happy to write my more detailed thoughts below.

I've recently started getting some pain in the back of my hand when using the computer, which I've self diagnosed as potentially early signs of tendonitis.

Given how much time I spend at the computer, I perhaps should have seen this coming.

In fact, I'm almost embarrassed to detail all the activities I do on the computer, because in retrospect it seems painfully obvious that all of these activities would lead to trouble sooner or later.

But like so many things in life, it only seems obvious after the fact.  At the time, I was oblivious to any health concerns.  I had read articles about carpal tunnel and tendonitis, but that was long ago, and those concerns were far away in the back of my brain. Plus, I had that strange optimistic belief that we all have that bad things only happen to other people, and that nothing was going to go wrong for me.

Anyway, in retrospect, I should have seen this coming.  Not only do I spend way too much time on this blog, and not only do I spend way too much time on the computer at work (I tend to over-prepare for many of my lessons), but I'm also obsessively on the Internet during my free time.  (I believe I have some form of Internet addiction.  I can't seem to pull myself away from the Internet and the constant desire to keep checking Facebook, email, news sites, click bait, etc.)

But what really tipped me over the edge was when I started using duolingo and quizlet obsessively to study Vietnamese.
I think this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, because not only was I typing constantly now, but I was also constantly typing at a rapid rate.
Quizlet, for example, has a game called "gravity" in which you have to type the words as fast as you can.  In duolingo, I got in the habit of trying to review lessons several times before moving on, which meant by the end of my review I was also typing through the words as fast as I could.

In retrospect, constantly typing at such a high speed was bound to cause problems sooner or later.

When I first started to notice pain in my hand, however, I was reluctant to stop studying.  After all, I was just beginning to feel like I was making progress with my language learning, and I had set goals for myself, and was getting feelings of accomplishment, and I didn't want to give that all up.

"I'll just cut down on my unproductive computer time instead," I told myself.
But alas, addictions are not so easily brought under control.
As with most addictions, my ability to abstain remained only so long as my will power was strong.  In the afternoon, when I was at peak energy, I was able to keep myself in check.  But when I was tired in the evening, my will power was also  drained, and I found myself going back to spending hours at the computer constantly clicking through things.

Eventually, my hands became so sore it was difficult to type, and at that point I knew I had to make drastic changes.  I stopped using quizlet and duolingo completely.

The thought occurred to me that maybe this was just a part of getting old, and no longer being able to take my body for granted.  (Whisky Prajer had warned me this would happen).
And unfortunately, I'm only going to get older from here on out.  I  had been able to maintain a tremendous blogging habit all through my 20s and 30s, but would I be able to continue this pace indefinitely through my 40s, 50s, and 60s, or was this just a preview of things to come?  Would sore fingers and arthritic joints be my typing future?

Although I realize no one cares about this blog but me, I've grown rather accustomed to it over the years, and I would be sad to have to give up my regular book and movie reviews.  Over the years, it's become very important to me to have an outlet for my thoughts on the various books I've read.

Then, as I was taking a shower the other day, the thought occurred to me: "Well, you could always do video blogging."  After all, lots of people do their book and movie reviews on youtube these days.

As the thought first crept into my mind, I was initially reluctant.  "I guess it would be better than nothing," I told myself.  "But it wouldn't be ideal.  I'm a terrible speaker.  The spoken reviews wouldn't be nearly as good as my written reviews."

But then I thought about it some more,and I realized I was actually a pretty terrible writer as well.
Whenever I go through and read my old book reviews, I find I have a hard time following my own train of thought.  My sentences are clunky, I don't transition well between ideas, I repeat myself, and I'm long winded.
To be quite honest, if you don't have the patience to read my book reviews, I don't blame you.  I don't have the patience to read my own book reviews.  When I try to re-read posts from a few years ago, I inevitably just get bored halfway through and give up.

How much worse could it be if I did it on video instead?
It couldn't possibly get any worse, and in fact, it might even get better.  I might express myself more sufficiently in speaking than I would in writing.  And also people might have more patience for listening to a video than they would for reading a long post.

The more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me, so that even after my hands started to feel better, I still thought the idea might have some merit.  Or at least be worthy of an experimentation.

Over the next few days, my hands started to feel a lot better.  (So if you're wondering why I'm typing a long post about how I can't type anymore, that's why.  I think just cutting down on duolingo and quizlet was enough to reverse the trend.)  But I thought it might still be interesting to experiment with doing video book and movie reviews.

This could be a complete and utter disaster.  I could just end up rambling incoherently at the camera and embarrassing myself.  But, after all, in life you have to take a few risks now and then, and this is going to be one of mine.  I'm going to risk embarrassing myself by trying out video blogging.

Here's how I envision this working:

In order to limit my potential embarrassment, I'll only do video blogging with my book and movie reviews.  (Any other blog posts will still be typed up in the old fashioned way.)

While I'm still experimenting with the new format, I'm going to use it as a supplement to my written reviews, and not as a replacement.
I'm going to attempt to give the same review twice, but just in two different formats.
Because of this, I don't necessarily recommend anyone read the written review and watch the video.  You'll find it is essentially the same points being made in both.  Maybe just pick one or the other.

I expect the first several videos will be a complete disaster.  It will take me some time to get comfortable in front of the camera.
I suspect that given time, I'll improve on this slightly, but there will always be a natural limit to my speaking abilities.  I'll never be a charismatic youtube star, but perhaps eventually I can get to a point where I'm not embarrassing myself.

Actually those of you with long memories will recall this is not actually my first attempt at video blogging. I gave it a try years ago--see here, here  here, here, here, here, and here.  I also used videos as a supplement on my Travels Through Oita Prefecture series.
So I guess I can't claim this as a completely new experiment.

But all of that was an age ago.  (The last blog entry I posted with video supplement was way back in early 2011.)
And at any rate, I've never used video as a way to review books or movies before.

Second Addendum

I've created playlists for the videos.  For all my video movie reviews, see here.  For all my video book reviews, see here.

Addendum: August 21, 2017
When I was first writing this post last December, I had the idea to start off the experiment with video blogging with a video explaining it.
However I hit a couple snags.  First of all, my phone camera automatically shut off after 4 minutes.  (Apparently there's a limit of 4 minute videos on my phone).
Secondly, within those 4 minutes, I was rambling so much that I thought it was better to just delete the video instead.
(It was after I filmed that disastrous video that I added the sentence: "In order to limit my potential embarrassment, I'll only do video blogging with my book and movie reviews."
But then I never did delete that old video, and now that several months have gone by, I find myself reluctant to.  So I figured I'd just upload it anyway.  Why not.
So here it is.


Whisky Prajer said...

Looking forward to the "new" format. One word of forewarning: depending on the video editing software you use, you may develop new grief with your dominant hand/arm. I don't have any recommendations to make on that subject -- I've stuck with Linux applications, and even the best of those are fussy affairs so I won't be video blogging anytime soon.

I will recommend this guy's book, however. Just following the bare-bones "maintenance" program was enough to ease the worst of my woes. (That's my most "liked" book review on goodreads, btw. Funny world.)

Joel Swagman said...

Ah yes, I should have mentioned this in the actual post but I forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

What I should have said in the actual post was that since excessive video editing would completely defeat the purpose, I'm going to be doing this in the laziest way possible. I'm not going to do any editing. I'm just going to press record, and then ramble into the camera until I run out of things to say, and then upload the video directly as is.

There's actually a lot of people on Youtube already doing these sort of video reviews, where they just talk into the camera about the book or movie, and then just upload it as is.

I know that in order to get any sort of a following on youtube I would have to be a lot more professional about it, but I'm not looking to get any sort of a following on youtube. I just want an outlet to express my thoughts about the books I'm reading.