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Monday, June 09, 2003

Blogging Technologies And Platforms: Today And Tomorrow

Panel information.

Doc: What I want to know most from these gentlemen are where their tools are going.

Jason Shellen: a little bit of what Blogger is doing is playing catchup. We had a very small team for a number of years. We felt we were building a tool for Web designers in '99, now we're up to 1.5 million registered users, and oddly enough they're not all Web designers. Our users are more akin to Geocities users. We've been undergoing a code revision which we kind of see as a platform for the future. That's all very boring. What is excited is when we see new ways to tie in with the community, and build it in a week. Now we're at Google, and can bounce ideas off really interesting folks who may be working on something very different. Blogger I would venture to say used to be the core for finding new blogs. Suffice it to say, that didn't scale well. We can Google-Scale (my IP lawyer would be very upset with me for that). I think it's dead on not that the tools will fade into the background, but that the blogging specific function will.

Bob Frankston: talks about using various tools, writing his own tools. The advantage of using Blogger is the built in features, the community, the RSS feed. We need to encourage both trends but be aware of the conflicts. Recognize that we're at the very early phases. Need to have users, but also encourage developers.

Dan Bricklin: With our tools (Trellix), that's the schtick, you've got to integrate the look and the functionality. The important thing about the new stuff being written is the automation of the tedius housekeeping, just what Bob said. Analogy to using Basic, then using VisiCalc. This is what the tools do, automate the tedius tasks, enable ease of publishing. Better automation=better output, stronger stuff. The guys at Lotus didn't imagine what Excel would be. One important thing is media forms. I'm really into pictures, history too. The multimedia aspects in many ways are important. Not everyone can write well, not everyone can take photographs well.

Anil Dash: with SixApart, we make Movable Type. Our immediate future will include a design for basic users to start and create weblogs. We think the anatomy, the pieces, have been decided. None of our tools have kept up with managing blogs the way they are. The goal is working backward from what people are doing to making that easy.

Michael Gartenberg: it's interesting that no one has mentioned the changing nature of the devices we work with. We're dealing now with a divergence of devices. One of the things we talk about a lot at Jupiter is digital ubiquity. A handful of people here are blogging on something other than a PC. What we're going to be looking for are ways to not just access but create that content on multiple devices. Need to be able to do it "without being the kind of person who installs an operating system as a form of social entertainment."

John Robb: we're about to come out with Frontier 9.1. Will include mail-to-weblog, will accomplish many other things more smoothly. With Radio, we're looking to add two-way synchronization, added a backup feature recently. We recently worked with a company on a very slick Windows interface, working on a Mac equivalent. Gives you the smooth operation you'd get in a slicker desktop app. Also looking at a P2P system for Radio blogs that would augment your ability to publish large files. Mentions Glenn Fleishmann, put up a PDF of his book, wound up holding an appeal on his blog to get people to help pay for the cost of the download demand. There wouldn't be any copyright infringement involved in the P2P system we have in mind, but helps not break the back of individuals or individual servers. I'd like to have a blog in one location that I can send out to multiple locations.

Jason Shellen: jumps in to say that the concept of blogging being embedded in different things doesn't mean your blog lives different places.

Anil Dash: talks about integrating all the aspects of your life that touch technology. We can broaden out the methods of publishing. The control part then becomes determining who can read what that you've published.

Jason Shellen: points out an audience member doing Q-Logger, says check it out, very interesting personal information manager.

Bob Frankston: discusses the move from diaries to controlled publishing. What I expect is people are becoming good at creating synthetic personalities. Political questions, how do you read information?

Doc: but if you actually want to use a persona in the real world, that's a problem. Brings up digital identity. Discussion tries to distinguish between the blog as a tool for publishing various ways, and the blog as a tool for connecting personally, exposing yourself to the world. Controlling access is involved, also depends on what you have to say.

Anil Dash: in attempting to sell to businesses, access control is a big deal. What is a permalink? A permalink is a promise.

Michael Gartenberg: emphasizes continually updated content.

Doc: Let me bring this down to a very mundane level, and very specifically problems that I have with some of your tools. Doc and Dave Winer may be the only two people in the room who use the Manila outliner. Doc wants a keyboard command to insert a link. Dave promises to do it for him. Going to Blogger for a sec, I've helped start several. Permalinks never work out of the box. Jason Shellen: It's a feature! Because most first blogs aren't necessarily very good. Kidding aside, in our new version that should be fixed. Soon.

Anil Dash: Typepad will be out this summer...

Audience question to the developers about access. Robb: with UserLand, everything but the kernel is public. Dash: Movable Type is non-redistributable open source, in the sense of editable code, anybody can make any modifications they want for their implementation. We're also facilitating ways for people to exchange these customizations. Shellen: for Blogger, what's driving innovation most is our own use. If it's broken or not working well, we use it every day and we know what critically needs fixing. Dash: The future direction for all of these tools hopefully will be a migration to Web services that plug in at a programmatic API level.

Doc: I have an ideal. Would love to serve pictures from my home machine. The cable guys and others have made the assumption there's an asymmetrical Web, if you want to serve something up go find a co-lo somewhere, which is what I'm doing now. Frankston: the companies will have no choice once more people start to use the Web symmetrically. Talks about a Web publishing app he wrote for personal use. Bricklin: I just don't think blogging is going to drive it, I think digital cameras, etc. will drive it first. There are P2P type apps like what John's talking about that will do this, the images are served out of your house. Gartenberg: You're talking about an infrastructure that is hugely aligned against this from an intellectual property standpoint. Audience member: you're missing though that the Web is paid for by people who buy uplink bandwidth. Frankston disagrees. Doc: do blogs have the power to alter this intransigence that Michael mentions? Dash: yes for text, no for rich media. If it's an image, cloud storage makes perfect sense, I'm mostly taking pictures away from home anyway. Shellen: we're making sweeping assumptions about broadband use too. Most people still are on dial-up. Audience-member: my ideal tool is something like Dreamweaver Light for bloggers. WYSIWYG features in Dreamweaver are unparalleled, ability to undo. It's a much more powerful tool for creating the code. Dash: two part answer. All of us support the same APIs for publishing. I can't imagine someone's not doing this. Robb: we are, we already integrate with Dreamweaver. Frankston: an important point here is the immaturity of the "it just works" side. Dash: fifteen months ago, with Ev's help I did a Blogger API Word template. All is totally possible, just hasn't been packaged yet.

Audience member asks about extended find and replace for archives, alert for dead links. Dash: we have find and replace. There are dead links plug-ins available.

Audience member asks about having to use myriad tools, the need to tweak the stylesheet, etc. People's eyes glaze over. Dash: the tools don't work the way that blogs are used right now. Re coding, I'm lousy at it and I hate it. The tool we're trying to build will address what you're saying. They have to, or they won't get the audience that weblogs deserve.

Audience member comments about using blogging to fight political battles, the need to show up. Doc: markets tend to work both ways. These people mother the inventions that obviate the policy questions. Bricklin: The power of TiVo being dubbed "God's Machine." 802.11 is finally at that point I believe. Frankston: Yahoo is rolling out a lot of broadband capacity. The number of bits to share movies, other rich media, is overwhelming. Companies eventually will find that defending dead bits is not in their business interest. There will be a lot of these skirmishing. As surprising as it is, Verizon is emerging as the good guy. The promise of asymmetricity. Doc: recalls being the only person in the audience at a Hollywood conference last year who was there with a laptop, and the only one who didn't have a TiVo.

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