Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Video blogging—vlogging–seems more cause-minded than ever.

New-and-improved digital video-sharing sites with names like Vimeo,, Flickr video, Seesmic, and Viddler are making it easier for citizen activists to share their concerns about the world around them. One new storytelling form emerging on these sites is the short, "cause vlog" —brief, home-made mini-documentaries meant to create community around issues close to home.

Here are a couple of recent examples:

* Bike-Lane Emergency from Nicholas Whitaker on Vimeo. Whitaker attaches his camera to his handlebars and takes us for a dangerous, humorous spin through the streets of New York City.

* River Reactions from Kevin Co on Vimeo. Co uses a combination of news and original footage to raise safety concerns over the proposed construction of a nuclear reactor in his Yukon River village in Alaska.

Want to distribute your cause vlog globally? That's easier now, too: Dot.sub is a Web service that lets cause activists publish their docs with subtitles in other languages—and makes it possible for others to add subtitles of their own, in other languages. Viewers, meanwhile, can choose their preferred language for watching.

Founder Michael Smolens wanted to substantially remove language and cost as a barrier to cross-cultural communication using video. "I remember thinking after I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 that if one documentary film in English could have an impact on a very close U.S. Presidential election, imagine if all independent and documentary films, TV programming, and video from all cultures could be made available in all languages," Smollen says.

Look for wider use of vlogging by nonprofits in coming months. Here's how one, the global citizen news community, Rising Voices, is using dotSUB to distribute an informational video about its work in more than a dozen languages. Click here to see its vlog.

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