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Irina Slutsky and Tracy Swedlow: vlogging pioneers

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YouTube, MySpace, Metacafe, Blip.tv, Sclipo and Viddler

I had the pleasure of hanging out with two of my favorite "vloggers" Irina Slutsky and Tracy Swedlow, of Geek Entertainment Television and Interactive TV Today. The idea was really just to meet at a cool cafe called "Mission Pie" on 25th and Mission in San Francisco and share ideas as friends - we all know each other already; this wasn't our first time talking but it was my first time getting together with both of them at once. We talked about events, vloggers, t-shrts, boobs, and the Karate Kid.

I've long admired what both Irina and Tracy have done. I met Irina in 2006 at an event in San Francisco she helped produce called "Vloggercon" which was my first introduction to the community of video-bloggers.

But what is "video-blogging"?

Video blogging is the act and art of talking into a camcorder or video recording device to tell a story or share information, then taking that video and editing first and / or directly uploading it into a service like YouTube. Some take the resulting video on the service and embed it into a blog, but that doesn't mean one has to do that for the video-blog to be just that. It's just using video recording systems to talk out and show your ideas and observations rather than writing them down. It's that simple.

Video blogging really grew with the emergence of YouTube and Blip.tv before it. For a time, Blip.tv was the service of choice because its quality was far better than YouTube's and that perception remained active until 2008, when a newly-owned-by-Google YouTube started to upgrade its systems. Now, YouTube is the dominant video distribution system. With that, Irina has almost religiously stuck to Blip.tv (though that's about to change).

Irina's one of the pioneer vloggers - remember, YouTube was established in 2005 and Blip.tv in 2006 so vlogging is still new - along with Amanda Congdon and Andrew Baron who teamed up to created Rocketboom and reached stardom in 2006 only to have a breakup so nasty it became an Internet event, causing Rocketboom to zoom from 125,000 views per day to over a million a day. That fight for control between Amanda and Andrew forced companies like ABC to pay attention to vloggers. Meanwhile, in the same year, Irina was "acquired" by a new firm called PodTech, which made video content and drew corporate sponsors to pay to have their image associated with it. PodTech was the first company established to a degree around the content of vloggers.

Unfortunately, PodTech and Irina came to a parting of the ways I will not go into here, but Irina carried on with her work at Geek Entertainment Television. Meanwhile, Swedlow was doing more than just vlogging, she was paying attention to "Interactive Television", which is where the viewer "interacts" with what they're seeing. The best example being voting on television. Anytime you text a message to a number after watching, say, American Idol, you're "interacting" with the television.

Tracy started Interactive TV Today with her husband Richard Washborne in 1998, and rapidly gained a reputation for producing a cool, cutting edge event called "The TV of Tommorrow Show" held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and where she brings together products and personalities for a lively discussion on how televisions future is being shaped today. (You can also hear her show on Blog Talk Radio)

More gatherings soon

Irina, Tracy, and I got together to talk and plan, but I can't say what we're going to do as of this writing. It's not that we don't know; we do - I just can't share it yet. We're still trying to figure out how to include "constantly hugged goats!" (See the video.)

Stay tuned!
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