April 13, 2010

Dances with Amanda


Weblog fans know just how voyeuristically addictive those blogs can be: You gather your own special group that you love to read, and you feel let down when you don't have a chance to read the latest entries - or worse yet, when the blogger fails to write something new.

Video weblogs can bring the same satisfaction. When done well, in fact, they're infinitely more satisfying than blogs because the medium allows for a more intimate view of the vlogger. Here's one that's as addictive as they come.


I was never a giant fan of Amanda Congdon when she hosted RocketBoom. Her quirkiness seemed put on, and irritating to boot.

amanda c.jpg

But obviously I was in the minority, as she left RocketBoom for bigger ponds, and has recently announced that she will now be ABC News's first vlogger. She'll be appearing on ABC News Now from time to time, she says, as well as "occasionally popping up" on Good Morning America or 20/20 as an internet correspondent.

The Dancing Across America vlog sees her take off across the country on a road trip sponsored by Ford and the National Resources Defense Council, during which she interviews bloggers, politicians and celebrities.

darryl hannah.jpg

During the interviews - which include Darryl Hannah (her own video blog was, she says, inspired by RocketBoom), tech blogger Doc Searles and the women behind Blogher - Congdon's sometimes over-the-top quirkiness is subdued, and she allows the interviewee to take center stage. She relates to them in an honest, straightforward way, and her skill in casual chat helps them to open up to her.

Catch her on her own time, however - such as when she's announcing the news of her new ABC job, or announcing the roadtrip - and she's delightfully (or irritatingly) wacky.


That wackiness is never more apparent than in the last installment of the vlog called Dancing Across America. Congdon exuberantly executes a series of tap dance/jitterbug/random moves in front of most of the recognizable landmarks of the country. Watch long enough and the random dance almost begins to seem choreographed, and mesmerizing, to boot. Were my eyes glazing over or is there a bit of brilliance hidden among the goofiness?

It's difficult to tell if Congdon's cross-country trip has been completed or if it has just been awhile since the last posting (the Dance Across America was posted Nov. 21, and nothing new has been added since then). But between her ABC gig, the show she's developing for HBO, and the fact that she's arguably the most accomplished vlogger out there, there's certain to be more Congdon to come.

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