See Me, Blog Me

  • Boston-based music-video producer Steve Garfield, 46, is no ordinary blogger. Instead of simply posting his thoughts online in a chatty weblog like millions of others around the world, he links a Canon GL2 digital video camera to his laptop and uploads short clips of protest rallies, traffic short-cuts and even news events onto his personal Internet site.

    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 , music-video blog or the Drudge Report — like compendium of diary vlogs . 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 , 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.