Blog vs. Vlog

You may think I haven’t been a very dedicated blogger since I haven’t posted anything here since arriving in Yellowstone almost ten months ago.. That may be true, in a way, but really I just shifted my working medium of choice for a while. Instead of using the written word, I’ve been using the spoken word mixed with moving images. Yep, I’ve been making videos, and they’re posted on YouTube. You can also watch them right here:

If you wanted to pick up the story that was started here, beginning with the two “Road to Yellowstone” entries in the blog, you could start with Part 2 in the nine-part video series. Part 1 will basically rehash the two blog entries.

What I plan on using the blog for, at least as far as the Yellowstone trip, is to flesh-out some of the organisms we experienced. I’ll also use it to discuss some biology-related topics. Each type of medium has it’s pros and cons. I thought I’d use this posting to give my two-cents on what those are.

The first thing has to do with the effectiveness and/or meaningfulness towards the educational purpose. This has to do with the same continuum on which the whole Experiencing Life concept lies. The most effective/meaningful way to learn is by going to a site personally and immersing yourself in the experience. That is what the series of trips guides you to do. Natural sites are best but even trips to artificial sites, like zoos and gardens, are more meaningful than a video can be. But videos are more effective and meaningful, in my opinion, than a written article can be. Matching moving images with narration can hold your attention and give clarity to many concepts much better than plain text, even with still images. Obviously, reading is a fundamental skill that everyone needs, but I have found it to be less effective for producing impactful learning experiences and for creating enthusiasm for a subject. So, for this category, the pro goes to videos.

A con for videos is that they take a lot more time and effort to produce. The average time it took to make one of the videos, which averaged around fifteen minutes in length, was probably 40-50 hours. I’m fairly new to the process, and I’m still figuring out the most efficient ways to do things, but videos will obviously always take longer than written articles. So, for each topic, I’ll have to weigh the benefits of taking the time to make a video against the extra impact the video would have. For some topics, I may not even have the raw footage to make a video, so it will be a non-issue. But, for other topics, any extra impact a video might have may not be worth the time required to make it, so I’ll post something here.

The other thing I can think of involves a technical issue. To see the videos I’ve created, you have to go to YouTube and stream the video. Whether you do this on your home computer or on a mobile device, you may be in a situation like I am, in a semi-rural setting where internet speeds are still limited, and you may run into frustrating connectivity problems like buffering. The same situation can lower the quality of the video stream, and you may not see the high-definition version I posted. Most people in cities of any size do not have this issue, but it is another potential con for videos. With a written article, you may have to wait a few seconds for it to load, but then there are generally no quality issues. Also, if you use a mobile device for the videos, you may be limited in the amount of data you can use and may not want to use it on video streaming.

Like this article, one of the ways I will use the blog is to let you know when I post videos. Since I posted “The Road To Yellowstone, Part 2” here, I have posted the following videos:

  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 1: The three travel days it took to get to Yellowstone, ending with the first few hours in the park and an eruption of Old Faithful. Kind of a video version of the two previous blog posts.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 2: Our first full day in the park, a cold and rainy day that took us to parts of the Firehole River geyser basins.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 3: Our second full day, which started with snow and took us to the Norris Geyser Basin and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 4: The first part of the only really beautiful weather day on the trip, covers Midway Geyser Basin, including Fairy Falls and Imperial Geyser.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 5: A continuation of the day started in Part 4, we spent the afternoon near the Old Faithful area.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 6: The day we visited the northern part of the park, known for its abundant wildlife.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 7: Our visit to Mammoth Hot Springs, on the same day as Part 6.
  • Yellowstone Trip -Part 8: Our last day in Yellowstone and the next day in Colorado. It snowed quite a bit the night before so we modified our trip by leaving Yellowstone early. Before we left the park we visited the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
  • (There will be a “Yellowstone Trip -Part 9”, which will get into the last two days of the trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, but I haven’t made it yet.)
  • Introduction To Yellowstone: This is more of a guide to the park, rather than a travel-journal-type video like the “Yellowstone Trip” videos are. This video has maps and summaries by area rather than date.

These videos will give a little completion to the tease I started six months ago. I hope you enjoy.

Completely unrelated to the Yellowstone trip, I’ve also posted a video showing a bird called “Lesser Yellowlegs” (Tringa flavipes). This is another type of video I plan to post on occasion, about individual species. The amount of time required for this type of video is much less, as long as I don’t add narration. It seems like this niche, of short videos showing individual species, is a little lacking on the web, so I’ll throw some out there.

Perhaps most importantly though, I’ve created an introductory video for the whole Experiencing Life series. It gives an overview of all twelve trips and what to expect on each.

Give the videos a try and please subscribe to the YouTube channel.

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