Archive for February 26th, 2004

Next generation blogging tools

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Dave Winer did a nice thing by asking a group of non-developers who use blogging software what they would like in terms of next generation tools.
 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/bloggerCon/…

Here are my thoughts:

Blogging friends,

As Geoffrey Moore (no relation, except in management thought lineage) emphasizes, products and industries often must change as they seek to “cross the chasm” from selling to early adopters to becoming part of the daily life of mainstream users.

I’d like to see millions more bloggers.

From my vantage point, blogging is facing its chasm. Despite strong absolute numbers and growth rates, our total share penetration of the computer and Internet world is tiny. For example, when I tried to find Iowa bloggers to put into BloggerStorm and Iowa Caucus News, I could only locate a few handfuls. I was in Microdesign yesterday—this is the big computer store near MIT—and there is no shrinkwrapped software that even references blogging, with the exception of Microsoft Frontpage, which does so deceptively in relation to Sharepoint.

I would like to see an all out effort to make the use of blogging software mainstream. With that in mind, here are my candidates for new developments:

Improve and simplify editing: Drag and drop posting of photos, audio/music, and video, within the basic central editor. Spell checking, thesaurus, easy posting of links. Overall, take WYSIWYG to the modern level. Current editors are a lot closer to Wordstar circa 1984 than to Microsoft Word of today.

Improve and simplify aggregating. Make aggregators available freestanding. Stop emulating complex email clients such as Outlook. Instead, build on the simple Manila-style aggregator format. Post most recent first, and display whatever a person wants in terms of headlines, summaries, and full posts.

Put development resources into ease of subscribing: auto discovery of feed urls, one-click subscribe and unsubscribe.

Improve how aggregators handle photos, audio/music, and video, especially in relation to getting content from the server to display without end-user intervention. For example. Improve auto-display and auto-run, auto-discovery of the media player being used, and auto-choice of file size/compression.

Put more effort into evangelizing blogging. IBM contributed a great deal to the spread of personal computing in the 80s by making available retail stores and business consultants. Blogging needs to do whatever the 2000s version of this is, in order to mainstream itself.

Finally, consider changing the name. Blogging may seem a warm and inviting term to those of us who are initiates, but I think that market research would document that the term is strange and off-putting to outsiders. Blogging, in my view, is a word that is a closer analogue to “cold, dead fish” than to “sushi.”

Best,

Jim Moore

PS: Dave has gotten great comments, many displayed at
 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/bloggerCon/…

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