Our Elder Bodies, Our Elder Selves
Elder Interviews at Other Media

Blogs, Podcasts and Online Video Versus Print

Even though Crabby Old Lady spent decades of her professional life producing radio and television programs – and she's pretty good at it – her first love is words on a page, reading them and writing them.

Reading goes at one’s own pace. Find yourself thinking, “yeah, yeah, yeah, would you just get on with it”? You can easily skip the boring parts. Didn’t quite understand that last paragraph? “Rewind” takes only a refocus upwards to go over it again. Liked the way the writer said that? There is as much time as you want to savor the phrase or sentence.

With audio and video you’re stuck with the speed of human speech. It is impossible in fast-forward mode to know when the good parts resume, backing up interrupts the flow and aside from famous movie lines, Crabby has rarely heard anyone say anything on screen that she immediately wanted to hear again. It is a phenomenon of speech (versus the written word) that it doesn't invite contemplation.

But the blogosphere is changing. Podcasts, video, internet radio are already established modes of online communication and rapidly growing in popularity. There is a sense that if, as a blogger, you’re not posting to YouTube or its rivals or not publishing a podcast now and then, you’re falling behind.

Call Crabby old-fashioned, but she is unlikely to follow the herd to sound and pictures. Could this be a generational issue…

The only time Crabby spends on YouTube and its clones is when someone has sent her a link. Oh, she once devoted a couple of hours to searching out and watching Gore Vidal clips, but that’s a personal fetish – the only real hero Crabby has ever had. And she regularly watches clips at Norm Jenson’s One Good Move because his political tastes are similar to Crabby's and he posts only the good bits so it saves her a lot of television-watching time.

But otherwise, unless a blogger gives her a compelling reason to watch a video they’ve posted and tells her how long the video runs, she doesn't watch them. Most are too slow and without much payback for the time invested. But Crabby appears to be in the minority on this.

A year or two ago, Crabby experimented with recording these blog posts and posted both the audio and print versions. But she is not a professional reader and it not only took time to rewrite the post for speaking, it took several tries to get it recorded well. That’s a highly boring endeavor and it eats up time during which Crabby could have read a bunch of blogs, newspapers, books or magazines.

Recently, Crabby played around with a webcam version of these posts. She's no good at it without a script and since she doesn't have a TelePrompTer, eye contact with the camera suffered. So she trashed that idea too.

Crabby has seriously considered a live, weekly, TGB internet radio show in which she would interview interesting folks about aspects of aging and allow listeners to ask questions. But, she would need to book the guests, do the research, write the interviews, etc. It’s not that she doesn't know how; God knows she has years of experience – which is why she knows how much time it takes to do it well. Crabby is still considering it, but she is a slow thinker.

Meanwhile, Crabby does't know if the phenomenal growth of online audio and video is a generational difference or if elders are moving in that direction as quickly as younger people – at least as watchers if not producers. Personally, Crabby has other activities that engage her more than wading through videos at the speed of human speech, and most she has seen contribute nothing to her knowledge or entertainment.

Besides, Crabby Old Lady already spends way too much face time with this computer.

It may consign Time Goes By to the slow lane of the blogosphere, but for the time being this blog and Crabby will stick with print. It is an infinitely richer experience.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Mick Brady is back at The Elder Storytellking Place with a winter, childhood adventure titled Back To the River of Dreams. It's a keeper.]


"Call Crabby old-fashioned, but she is unlikely to follow the herd to sound and pictures. "

HURRAY! I've been downright dishearted by people shifting their emphasis towards podcasts. I have zero interest in these -- in fact, worse, it actively turns me off. Negative interest. If you are a professional speaker with a good sound studio and a decent script, then this could be a good idea.

All the ones I have heard have simply made me wince and turn the player off.

If you do interviews, please post a written transcript of them. I don't need to know how people sound, I simply want to know what they have to say.

I think audio and video blogging might be more accessible for some elders, and more forgiving of those who learned to spell phonetically or who became used to text messaging.
For myself, I prefer writing and reading good writing. As you said, it gives one a chance to think about what's being communicated.

I've been "Crabbied!"

My blog this morning has multiple YouTube links...and long ones, too!

I was just too damn tired last night to come up with anything...well, literary.

Can I use this forum for one pet peeve of my own? Where in the world did the idiotic phrase, "my bad", come from? I hate it.

But, I guess I have become slang conditioned, because when I read your post this morning, Crabby, the disgusting phrase popped into my brain.

And that's truly "bad".

Here's a treat for you all:

Ronni on the radio.

I'm with you on this one. I would far rather read and write. The exception is that I grab professional-quality podcasts and audiobook readings to listen to when in the car, since that's obviously a bad time to read. But most of the audio-blog stuff out there does not remotely interest me - and it might if it were in print.

I will sometimes make a "phone post" to my LiveJournal which is just a way to call in and make an audio post - but that I only do if I'm nowhere near a computer to post, but I have a phone handy, and really want to put something in there. It's a convenience thing. (And LiveJournal makes it possible for the people listening to it to transcribe it, if they are users, so that later people can read it. In practice, I find this is seldom actually done. I usually come along and replace it with text when I finally do get to a computer.)

I have been a book fan since I learned to read and then came newspapers, magazines, and now blogs. I see very little YouTube,finding most of it boring. Althugh it is real handy when some political thing comes along that I didn't catch and want the nuances myself, not someone else's interpretation of them. I don't know if it's generational or just a real love of the written word that I also think is better than oral-- most of the time.

Well, since I've been on the Internet forever, I'm used to scanning text quickly and getting what I want from it. Podcasts don't interest me at all, and I watch videos rarely. The video blogs I've seen are pretty hideous really - we have enough talking heads on TV.

But, bandwidth is cheap now, so it's gonna get used. Back in the day, text was the only way to go.

On dial-up it is simply impossible. I live in an area where broadband is unavailable, ergo video is a stupid move to get my attention. Radio is OK. I often catch up on some NPR programming that way.
The first 2 years I lived here I would reach for the non-existent radio to turn on NPR. Splendid stuff.

Anyone who has read my comments is probably aware that I have a profound hearing loss, so the subject is moot for me. The only time I regret not being able to hear on YouTube is when someone sends me a link to one of John Stewart's comedy routines. I love the guy, but without closed captioning I am lost. I wish the Internet would provide closed captioning or a transcript for those of us with this disability.

I also love Gore Vidal; ICH occasionally has a transcript of his writing. Another favorite of mine is Bill Moyers and he is routinely featured there as well.

Couldn't agree with you more. If someone said something interesting on audio or video, transcribe it for your blog -- don't make me very slowly wade through ephemera! I actually think this is one of the ways some of us add value to the internet. When we transcribe and discuss, we create a species of record likely to be far more enduring than seemingly more immediate media.

This is also why I often quote at some length from older books -- we need to get the important bits into the great internet stew in order to preserve them!

Until a couple of days before I did a Bloggingheads "diavlog" at Ann Althouse's invitation, I had never listened to a podcast or watched a "vlog." I share your bias for print, Ronni (although I have enjoyed doing radio, in my day -- especially late-night radio! It's intimate and improvisatory, somehow).

I have to psych myself up so much for these things that I lose a couple of productive days on each side of one. They're fun in their way, but for me they will always be (like a book tour) something I only do because the culture's moving that way, so it may be necessary to find new readers.

There used to be a public service TV ad I liked that said, "Reading is fundamental." and I've always thought it should be shortened to "Reading us fun!" but that's just me. Printed words seem to stay in my head better than audio or video broadcasts. I do like some of the videos on YouTube but much prefer reading as a mode for learning new info. And, Ronni, you've taught me a lot!

You might want to try


A young relative of mine in LA works on it.

I recently saw some video blogging where two individuals at remote locations discussed several issues and the discussion was captured with webcams and displayed on a split screen. The discussion was fresh and interesting and unscripted. Unfortunately the topics were not in my main area of interest and I did not save the link to send you.

I have been using our webcam for video phone conversations with our children and it added a new dimension to phone conversations.

Ronni, I am sure that someone with your professional experience could put together some interesting discussions using currently available technology.

Once we reach the point where we can conference call on Windows Live Messenger with little windows for each participant, I think we will start seeing some interesting videos.

I think the most important factor is to keep the videos short and use them to promote longer discussions in text format.

Even though I am a PC guy, I find that Itunes covers the spectrum. I use ITunes to listen to radio programs that I can't get in my local area here in Orlando. Also, there is a radio program that is even harder to get at. I listen to that one via a podcast on Itunes.

I got rid of my TV a few years ago and haven't looked back. But I do enjoy videos on-line. I can watch Charlie Rose (all archives searchable now) within a day or two of airing. I can watch all of CPAN - also searchable. PBS Frontline. The Mark Bittman cooking videos on the NYT site. And yes, I enjoy playing on YouTube sometimes too. Most interestingly: I watched the Bloggingheads show with Althouse and Annie which led me to read Annie's blog, which is how I found out about THIS blog!

Books are a big part of my life as well. I'm of the BOTH/AND school.

I know that this is an 2007 post. Podcasts are being talked about a lot lately on Twitter. While reading tweets today I wondered if Ronni does podcasts? I put podcast in the very useful search box on Time Goes By, this post was first one on a long list. I will read some more, I'm interested what others think of podcasts.

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