Garfield belongs to a small but growing legion of video bloggers, or vloggers, who are turning the Web into a medium in which someday anyone could conceivably mount original programming, bypassing the usual broadcast networks and cable outlets. "My last entry was a news story about a local ice rescue, and this July I'm going to cover the Democratic Convention," says Garfield, who posts one or two new clips every month. "With cheaper digital cameras and cell phones that can also shoot video, more and more regular people like me will start becoming citizen-journalists."
Video blogs don't require sophisticated equipment, just a PC or a Mac, a high-speed connection and a digital video camera as well as a hosted weblogging service like TypePad and, if you want, editing software such as Final Cut Pro or iMovie (the latter is free with most Apple computers). For really spiffy professional results, it makes sense to invest in tools like Serious Magic's Visual Communicator, a TelePrompTer-graphics-backdrop package that provides network-news style production values for $199.
While millions of text-driven blogs have blossomed worldwide, there are only a couple hundred video blogs out there. To sample some, check out Japanese slacker vlog avoidinglife.com, music-video blog sxsw.com/music or the Drudge Report like compendium of diary vlogs vidblogs.com. Hollywood celebrities are also plunging in: Adam Sandler's personal site offers regular video messages from the comic.
Jeff Jarvis, an early champion of vlogging and founder of BuzzMachine.com, a blog that deals with politics and the media, sees great potential in the phenomenon. "Vlogs are a weird, new kind of way that people can document their lives," says Jarvis. "It has the potential to be the farm team for new talent used by big, mainstream media. Suddenly anybody can become an Andy Rooney." Or better yet, an Edward R. Murrow.