Brothers Reconnect Using Video Blogging When brothers John and Hank Green realized their relationship had become nothing more than a series of text messages and e-mails, they decided to do something about it: They began posting video blogs for each other on YouTube.
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Brothers Reconnect Using Video Blogging

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Brothers Reconnect Using Video Blogging

Brothers Reconnect Using Video Blogging

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We're going to talk now about an experiment in communications. It does not involve the FCC, but it does involved video cameras, the Internet and two brothers, John and Hank Green. They realized their relationship had become nothing more than a series of text messages and e-mails. So they decided to do something about it. That was just over a year ago on New Years Day.

(Soundbite of "Brotherhood 2.0")

Mr. HANK GREEN (Co-creator, "Brotherhood 2.0"): Starting on January 1st, today, I will send you a video blog. Tomorrow, you will reply to that video blog. We will continue like this until the year is up.

SEABROOK: John and Hank called the moratorium on the written word and began posting their video communiques on YouTube. Gradually, other people started to watch, too, tens of thousands of other people. John and Hank's experiment ended a couple of weeks ago and they join me now, John from Indianapolis and Hank from Missoula, Montana.

Mr. J. GREEN (Co-creator, "Brotherhood 2.0"): Hi. How is it going? This is John.

Mr. H. GREEN: Pretty good. This is Hank. I just want to say that this is not my idea.

SEABROOK: So, John, this is your idea.

Mr. J. GREEN: Yeah, it was - I guess it was my idea, but then neither of us had ever edited a video on our lives. But on January 1st, Hank managed to make something, and on January 2nd, I managed to make something in response and it just kept going for the rest of the year.

Mr. H. GREEN: It should be mentioned that John actually had to call me on January 2nd and have me tutorialize him on how to, you know, use computer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: How old are you guys?

Mr. H. GREEN: I'm 27.

Mr. J. GREEN: And I'm 30.

SEABROOK: So you are of the e-mail generation.

Mr. J. GREEN: Yeah, very much so.

SEABROOK: Okay. So you were worried about not having that human contact.

Mr. H. GREEN: Yeah. In the end, text is a very empty form of communication. When you go from actual physical presence to spoken word and then another step we moved to text, it becomes a much more shallow way of communicating.

SEABROOK: Well, let's get people an idea of what we're talking about here. Let's play this blog entry from last year. This is you, John.

(Soundbite of "Brotherhood 2.0")

Mr. J. GREEN: Well, Hank, I have now gotten my haircut. Do you like it? Do you like it? I like it. I'm pretty happy with it. I went to a barbershop in Washington, D.C. called Louis, and the guy who cut my hair had cut the hair of both Bill Clinton and Willie Nelson. And when he told me this information, I was like, hmm, Bill Clinton and Willie Nelson are both historical figures whose work I admire, but I'm not necessarily booking to emulate their hairstyles.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: At the risk of being mildly insulting, these aren't exactly deep thoughts that we're talking about here that you were sending to each other. I mean…

Mr. J. GREEN: You're right that it isn't a deep thought, and we were never very sentimental in the videos. I don't think either of us ever said I love you. In fact, just saying that we never said I love you just made me feel awkward.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. H. GREEN: Oh god, yes, I agree.

Mr. J. GREEN: I know. Let's just forget that it ever happened, Hank. You're a good man. But there is a kind of depth to it because there's a familiarity. There's an intimacy that goes along with letting Hank know what I did today. And for many years in our relationship, there was no opportunity for us to go through the things that we did each day with each other, you know. So that was little things do, I think, in the final analysis really bring a kind of intimacy to a relationship.

(Soundbite of "Brotherhood 2.0")

Mr. H. GREEN: I just spent two hours and 30 minutes downloading your 2 minutes and one second video, which can mean only one thing - that I'm in mom and dad's house, the last residence in the United States of America with dial-up Internet.

Mr. J. GREEN: On the upside, it's awfully pretty. Plus, I get to be surrounded by memories of our childhood.

SEABROOK: Were you surprised by the number of people who began to follow your video relationship? Did it change the way you did as adult?

Mr. J. GREEN: I can't speak for Hank, but I don't think it changed the way I did it very much. I feel like in some ways we always knew that there was an audience even if there was just a few people. And when the audience got bigger, it was more people but ultimately the most important person in our audience for me was always Hank.

(Soundbite of "Brotherhood 2.0")

Mr. J. GREEN: Good morning, Hank. It's Friday, October 26th. Today I'm going to discuss the political situation in Nepal while eating five sheets of toilet paper.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. J. GREEN: So I think that's sort of in the spirit of the project that Hank and I have things that we care a lot about but we're also kind of goofy and nerdy.

SEABROOK: Now, you talk a lot about a lot of big issues - microfinance, global warming and you even arranged a charity fundraiser you called Project Awesome.

Mr. H. GREEN: Well, we basically got many of the people who watched "Brotherhood 2.0" to create their own video blogs featuring a charity that they really, really care about and that matters in their lives. So all these people got together and they made these videos about these charities and then we used the power of our fans, which we call nerd fighters, to go on YouTube and feature all of those videos by sort of fooling the YouTube algorithm into thinking that these videos were the most awesome videos for the day, and we pretty much did it. We took over the majority of YouTube for that day.

SEABROOK: But this was mainly an experiment in how to be brothers over the Internet. What did you learn?

Mr. J. GREEN: Well, I think the biggest thing we learned was that it's really fun to have a sibling and know them as an adult. You know, I left home when I was 15 to go to boarding school and so the last time in lived full time with Hank he was 12. And this was our first real opportunity to become grown up siblings.

SEABROOK: Do you miss it now that you're done?

Mr. J. GREEN: Yeah. Hank, do you miss it?

Mr. H. GREEN: I do. I was just thinking yesterday. I don't miss making the videos, but I miss receiving them.

Mr. J. GREEN: Yeah, I feel exactly the same way. I don't miss listening to me but I miss watching you.

Mr. H. GREEN: Yeah.


Mr. J. GREEN: That was too cheesy.

SEABROOK: No, it's so cute. It was totally…

Mr. J. GREEN: It's too sentimental.

SEABROOK: It was completely sincere and you could tell.

Mr. J. GREEN: It's true, but it's gross.

SEABROOK: Thank you guys very much.

Mr. J. GREEN: Oh, thank you so much.

Mr. H. GREEN: Thank you.

SEABROOK: Hank and John Green make the news daily video blogs all of last year called "Brotherhood 2.0." They joined me from KUFM in Missoula and WFYI in Indianapolis.

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