In Focus: Seeking Chicago Video Bloggers

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This content originally appeared on my former Chicagosphere online-media blog, hosted on the Chicago Tribune‘s ChicagoNow network.

The greatest thing to happen to my personal blog this year was the inspiration I got from my hit-and-run ex to purchase a Flip Mino camcorder. The sub-$200, super-sub-compact wonder fits in my pocket with room to spare for my iPhone and takes an hour of digital video.

Some say video blogging, or vlogging (God, please never give me reason to use that uber-cute diminutive in a sentence again), is yet another excuse for bloggers to syndicate boredom across the Internet. True, anything can be done badly. Especially blogging.

Wise bloggers, however, use their webcams and mini-camcorders as an extension of their own personalities–the same way they use their blogs–to cut to the chase and let the world know what’s important to them, and why. Some use humor, others use pathos. But when they do it right, video bloggers leave you knowing a little more about their worldviews, and happier for having been taken on the journey.

(Video: Is that a mini-camcorder in your pocket?)

Today on the ‘Sphere is a selection of Chicago-based bloggers who use video as a fundamental element in the telling of their virtual stories. They all use different styles, but each one makes their point. If you like what you see, click through and tell them so.

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Craig Benzine: Wheezy Waiter (@wheezywaiter)

Originally launched as a video blog about waiting tables in Chicago, asthmatic Craig Benzine’s Wheezy Waiter has evolved into a sardonic exploration of life in general and is, perhaps, the best currently produced video blog in Chicago. On the blog, or via his YouTube feed,

wheezywaiter, he uses his professional video editing skills to portray different characters and tell his stories from multiple perspectives. Here, he assumes the identity of Joe the Torture Photographer, opining on the potential ramifications of releasing additional secret images from Guantanamo Bay. No really, it’s amazing, trust me…

(Video: The blogosphere’s spit-take king explores the ramifications of releasing torture photos.)

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Kevin Buckstiegel: LimeBlog (@vectorlyme)

Couched in the persona of your average Chicago graphic design/web front-end guru, Kevin Buckstiegel’s video blogging work, featured on his LimeBlog (and Vimeo page), takes a thoughtful look at life in the Second City. My recent favorite, his life of the past six months condensed into a five-minute video montage:

(Video: Six months of a life in five minutes and 53 seconds.)

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Amy Guth: TheAmyGuth (@amyguth)

A video blogger with an engagingly subversive sense of humor, ChicagoNow’s own Amy Guth covers the local literary scene on the blog, Chicago Subtext. For two years, she’s been telling all about her own life–and interviewing some major authors along the way–on her personal blog, bigmouth indeed strikes again. Amy’s most unexpected moments, though, can be found on her YouTube channel, TheAmyGuth. Here, she gains the keys to the condo of noted local blogger Leah Jones and, to put it mildly, redecorates:

(Video: This is why you lock your doors when you leave the house, folks.)

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Michael Lehet: What’s a Boy to Do?

Another new ChicagoNow colleague, Michael Lehet, scribe of the Windy City gay-life blog, What’s a boy to do?, has been video blogging for several years. Highly irreverent, Michael’s chronicles, collected on his YouTube page, WhatsABoyToDo, include celebrity interviews, road trips, gaudy–and bawdy–evenings out, and lots of vaudeville shtick (check for his BFF, stuffed-animal Flo Mingo). Here, he uses the power of post-editing to turn back time in an unexpected way:

(Video: Have to believe we are magic…)

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Shameless Plug: Chicago Carless (@chicagocarless)

I close today with my own personal moment in time. Living in a round building (Marina City) gives me ample opportunity to muse on the circular nature of life. Last month, I picked up my Mino and explored that theme, literally (find more of my videos on Carless or my YouTube channel):

(Video: Much like life, some days I end up where I began.)

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If you’ve got a video blog you’d like me to feature, tell me at mike (at) chicagocarless (dot) com. (Potentially disbanded Chicago Video Bloggers, Columbia College students, etc., this means you.) And if you’re a blogger without a video blog, come on, McFly, it’s 2009. Spend a month brewing your own caffeine-infused beverages at home and use the money you save to get a cheap handheld. The future waits for no one, especially on the blogosphere.

By the way, ChicagoNow asks me to ask you to keep your porn blogs to yourself. So self-select people.

You know who you are.

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