If ever there was a thoroughly modern word that spoke about the inclusive, personal, and social aspects of the Internet as well as technology, today’s word might very well be it. Worldwide, more than 44% of us watch at least one of these contributor’s videos per month. They can be as elaborate as possible or just someone with a smartphone or camera at arm’s length, and can run the spectrum of emotions, topics, and opinions. Today’s word, which arguably needs to be seen to be fully understood and appreciated, is vlogger.
Simply put, a vlogger is someone who produces a vlog, or a video weblog. To break that down further, video blogging is a vlogger recording and sharing videos of themselves during daily activities. Breaking the word itself down, the base word is a log, which is the shortened form of log-book and a means of recording observations. Compounding it to weblog is the shortened specification of ‘world wide web’. That is further compounded with video, from the Latin video, meaning ‘I see’ or, in this case, the visual medium, making the term vlog. Finally, adding the suffix -er simply denotes ‘a person who does’. Putting that all together, we’ve got a person who creates a visual recording of their daily experiences for an Internet audience.
The first known mention of the term comes from the personal website of author Jeff Jarvis – BuzzMachine.com – where, on December 31, 2002, he writes in an entry that: “Bloggers compete with columnists; vloggers compete with pundits.” That being said, the possibility of using a video camera to record daily thoughts or feelings has been an option ever since video cameras became affordable; some even note that the New York artist and videographer Nelson Sullivan had a vlog-like style in his videos from the 1980s. Still, the use of this medium for strictly artistic expression and/or limited circulation is counterintuitive to the nature of vlogging: the inherent means of widespread distribution to others would always require something like the Internet.
The birth of the vlog and vlogger as we know them can be traced to several unrelated events in 2002. The actual first vlog (and vlogger) was on January 2, 2000, when Adam Kontras posted a video along with his blog entry in order to tell friends about his show business-driven move to Los Angeles. In a how-to video from November, 2002, Adrian Miles, first refers to his video blog as a vog (which is the predecessor of vlog). Finally, in 2002, making a video diary of travels after his education, filmmaker Luuk Bouwman starts a website called Tropisms.org in order to share them, which was one of the first sites known as a vlog or videolog.
In the beginning, vloggers were fully independent, alone, and fragmented, and then, in 2005, YouTube happened. Adding to that, the widespread introduction of smartphones with video capabilities in the mid-to-late 2000s, opened the floodgates for even more potential vloggers. Now, vloggers and their vlogs are a substantial percentage of the 400+hours of video that are uploaded to YouTube every minute and the staggering 1 billion hours spent watching YouTube daily, but they are also spawning new platforms, like Periscope, SnapChat, and Facebook Video.
It’s worth mentioning that this appeal of and interest in vlogging has also made some vloggers very rich: YouTube vlogger Logan Paul reportedly made EUR 11 million in 2017, largely stemming from the notoriety he gained as a blogger. On the other hand, that was only good enough for 4th among YouTube stars, and EUR 3.5 million less than #1 star Daniel Middleton. So, maybe, if you’re not into being a vlogger, try uploading Minecraft videos.