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Cho was not a vlogger

Picture_176 Dave Winer: Vlogging comes to mass murder
NewTeeVee: Virginia Tech Killer Vlogged Manifesto

No, no, NO! Let's clear up a couple of misconceptions.

The videos were Quicktimes.
Nearly ALL video that's distributed in any fashion is Quicktime. It's almost like saying, "The videos were videos." Just because the video is in a digital format does not make it vlogging.

The videos were confessional, first-person style.
In a way it's flattering to conflate the confessional video style with videoblogging. But consider this: We don't refer to his text manifesto as "blogging." There were no blogs involved with the package of stuff Cho sent to NBC.

Still, the larger point stands: This technology can be used for good or evil. The next Justin.tv might get wacked out on meth and go on some sort of rampage. (Apologies to Justin for that offensive suggestion.) Maybe Cho was too stupid to upload these videos to YouTube. Clearly he was a braindead, disturbed motherfucker. But he did get as far as making video of himself, and burning the files onto a DVD. He was one step away from something like videoblogging.

But... so what? Yesterday we were up in arms over a killer's MySpace page, tomorrow it might be a killer's YouTube videos. This technology is open to everyone, and the good far outweighs the bad. I remember in the mid-90's, lots of people thought we should shut down this Internet thing because somebody posted bomb-making plans that you could already find in a library book.

What are the limits of a free society? Technology almost always pushes those limits and forces us to ask these questions.

April 19, 2007 at 11:52 AM in Videoblogging | Permalink


I agree with your intent here, to clear up misconceptions.

Cho was not a vlogger, nor even a blogger. And I can agree that Cho was disturbed.

But braindead? No, certainly not in a medical sense. And he was smart enough not to tip anyone off, and smart enough to get into college, so I'm not sure we should be dismissing his intelligence. Maybe his capacity for imagination.

And I doubt he had sex with his mom. If we're calling people on using the right words, we gotta be careful with ours.

Posted by: cheryl at Apr 19, 2007 1:10:50 PM

You're right, he was a thoughtful young man. ;-)

How about "vacant, vile motherfucker." Sorry, that's about the best I can do at the moment.

Lori and I had a conversation this morning about this, probably similar to conversations happening all over the world: What would make someone do this? Probably some combination of a lack of love and caring in his life, especially his childhood, and mental illness. (Yes, we're all pop psychologists.)

Posted by: chuck at Apr 19, 2007 1:46:24 PM

I dunno... I think we could say he committed an act of videoblogging, right? (We said it earlier about Wolf and journalism.) It seems logical to conclude that he's was definitely influenced by the *aesthetic* of confessional videoblogging, in some way or another.

Posted by: Rex at Apr 19, 2007 4:05:33 PM

I like Garrick's comment on Twitter: the fact that NBC can control their release means it's not videoblogging.

Sure, I'd reckon he's influenced by the aesthetic of confessional videoblogging. He committed at most half an act of videoblogging - recording himself. But videoblogging isn't a recording revolution, it's a publishing revolution. Just like blogging. Sending it to a broadcast network is like sending your written manifesto to a newspaper. That's certainly not blogging.

Posted by: chuck at Apr 19, 2007 4:21:01 PM

I guess I think videoblogging is both: a publishing revolution and a stylistic revolution.

As far as sending it to a network... well, I'm not sure if that's much different than Amanda (ABC) or even Josh (local TV). But now I feel icky making that comparison, so I withdraw it...

Either way, here's what fascinates me: the freak decided he needed to make some sort of *multimedia product* of this (which is why "PowerPoint" might be a better analogy than "Videoblogging"). He needed to create a media record... that seems to be what makes this heinous act so startlingly "of this time" (and, ultimately, should be what really makes us question the purpose of mainstream media).

Posted by: Rex at Apr 19, 2007 5:28:47 PM

i agree!

[poor taste follows]
and really, Cho dude... why couldn't you have at least given us a MySpace page, or uploaded the damn thing to YouTube? we're really looking for a Web 2.0 shooting rampage, and you dropped the ball. way to go jerk.

Posted by: chuck at Apr 19, 2007 8:26:29 PM

Could someone point me to some videobloggers that release their content on DVD's to the mainstream media rather than ditribute it over the net?

Comparing or likening what Cho released on DVD to the content that videobloggers create is uneducated and assinine.

Posted by: David Howell at Apr 19, 2007 8:30:25 PM

A lot of people are wondering why did Cho do this and how he could be so damn evil. I just think that there is always a balance of good and evil in the world, and as far as trying to understand why madmen like Cho behave, logic is futile. He was, after all, insane.

I fear that one day disturbed people facing meltdown will unleash the potential of the Internet, to multiply the impact of their deaths. In the same way Cho exploited the power of the media to unleash his fury to hurt and emotionally affect people all over the world.

Posted by: Robert at Apr 26, 2007 6:28:22 AM