The Story of Our First Video, 2 Years Ago Today

It's true. Two years ago today, we posted our very first video, RSS in Plain English. We had no idea what we were doing, or how that video would transform our lives.

We had a tripod, camera and a whiteboard, and that was about. The video was lit with bedroom lamps and I was speaking directly into the microphone on the camera as I moved around the pieces of paper. The video was edited with Windows Movie Maker. It was inspired by a blog post from 2004 with the title "RSS Described in Plain English."

Of course, the technical quality of the video clearly shows that we had many, um, many opportunities to improve:

We posted it about 10pm on the night of the 23rd and by noon the next day it hit the front page of Digg, partially thanks to our first comment by Rob Cottingham, minutes after it was posted. We were both blown away by its popularity. Here are a couple of tweets from that day:

This blog post (which makes me smile) captured some of the initial buzz:

It's been 24 hours since the video was posted and we've seen 15,000+ page views, 800 Diggs , 350 Delicious bookmarks and 50 comments.

Of course, the big question for us became, can we do it again? Soon after we started work on our second video, Wikis in Plain English. Once that was complete, we started to feel confident that this was something we could do.

Looking back at the RSS video, it's a bit painful to see how rough it is compared to our work now. However, I'm struck that the roughness didn't matter. It was the message, the script, the communication that mattered far more than the bad lighting and sound. While we feel good about technical quality now, we still focus the majority of our attention on what made that first RSS video work: a simple and clear explanation.