By Dave Huth
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September 09, 2005

Why Josh Kinberg is an Important Person You Shouldn't Know About

The vlogosphere is made of many pieces: communities, individuals, and ideas converging through technology. An exemplar piece of the puzzle has been the vlog aggregator FireANT, thanks in large part to the applied engineering of Josh Kinberg's brain. You can hear about part of vlogging's history from Kinberg himself in this interview from Futuremedia.

Tools built and refined by people like Kinberg are essential to the future success of the fledgling media revolution. But really, the majority of people who will watch new media shouldn't be aware of what he does. That's because a good tool is good because we barely notice its presence, let alone do much thinking about why or how it works.

This is especially true of media tools -- what we want is the media content. Any awareness of the technology that brings us to that content is a distraction. This is the burden of a good designer or engineer: anonymity.

One thing that the top-down, vertical media heirarchy model (media produced by a few Big Players talking one-way to a mass of consumers) has going for it is a streamlined user experience with simple, transparent tools: 1. place buttocks on sofa 2. Look across the room at square thing 3. Congratulations you are now consuming mainstream media.

In contrast, there's still a self-conscious layer of technology between me and the videoblogs I want to see. I need to juggle several things to get what I want: computer access, a Net connection (and it better be speedy), plus several pieces of software. Every time the good folks at FireANT or Freevlog or Vlogmap or Mefeedia or any of many tool-builders releases an improved version of whatever groovy tool they build, they are simplifying one more piece of a distracting process.

It gets easier to bring more people onboard every time the process becomes more user-friendly, when the aggregators get an interface tweak, subscribing becomes more streamlined, searching and commenting and tagging get simpler -- all of this is to say that the technical tools become more transparent.

There are many puzzle pieces that remain jumbled in the box, and I have tremendous respect for the folks who think hard about fitting them together. We need further improvements to aggregators, clever ways to integrate Web services, smoother (read: invisible!) implementation of RSS.

And of course, we're still waiting for the holy grail of videoblogging: a way to break videoblogs from the Tyrrany of the Access Point. Videoblogs must move freely from my computer monitor to either A) my television set or B) something I can hold in my hand and look at on the train (or, best of all, both).

When that happens, videoblogs will make a leap into the lives of people who never heard of Josh Kinberg, and have no idea why what he does is so important to their own experience.

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