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7/19/2002
08:02 AM
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Are You Blogging Yet?

Web journals could have business value.

What's more, and this is key, there's built-in motivation for people to participate in blogging: They get credit for their ideas. A blog is essentially a repository of a person's intellectual capital--a record of their thoughts, observations, contributions. People may switch employers, but they'll take with them electronic journals of their best ideas. Blogging is a way to protect the most important brand of all: yourself.

If you're wondering what blogs look like, they're essentially Web pages with some common characteristics: commentary, sometimes lengthy, but often only a sentence or paragraph per subject; hyperlink connections to other Web pages; discussion threads; a search-engine function; maybe even advertising. Within this story, you'll find references to other sources, including weblogs. Bloggers do that a lot--link to one another. A standard feature of many blogs is a recommended-reading list of other blogs. That leads tens of thousands of visitors to the most popular commentators. Not bad numbers for people with something to say.

NATURE OF THINGS

The idea of running a weblog always appealed to me, but over time I've become more accustomed to reading other people's weblogs than building one of my own. People like kottke, ev, heather, and haughey (probably recognized as the elite a-listers) have seemingly become friends to me, even though they probably have no idea who I am. I come over and visit every day, they talk to me, tell me their opinions, share pictures of their vacation, and express their feelings--sometimes even letting me respond--and yet they don't even know my name. A false sense of friendship is the necessary evil of one-way communication.

Aaron Christy
http://www.surfacedamage.com
© 1975-2002 Aaron Christy

I know of at least three places you can find tools to create weblogs: http://www.userland.com, http://www.moveabletype.org, and http://www.blogger.com. UserLand went commercial with its $40 Radio UserLand client software in January. The company's development environment, Frontier, sells for $900, and includes Internet server software called Manila.

Don't look to Microsoft for weblog tools--it doesn't sell them. Microsoft product manager Trina Seinfeld says the company's SharePoint Team Services--included in its FrontPage 2002 Web-site-creation software, which is part of the Office XP applications suite--and SharePoint Portal Server fulfill some of the same functions. Both, for example, support workgroup collaboration and idea-sharing. SharePoint Team Services lets a person quickly create an intranet, where things such as online discussions and surveys can facilitate communication. Microsoft says 10,000 impromptu sites have been created this way by employees in its own business. SharePoint Portal Server is a content aggregator aimed more at departments and business units. Among other things, Portal Server can link together the intranets whipped up by Team Services.

So, there are similarities and differences among the software tools you can choose from. My hunch is that it's possible to build something that looks and feels like a weblog even if the underlying technology isn't from one of the developers that specialize in this market. In this respect, the concept of weblogging would seem to be more important than the technology that enables it. If so, it's already passed the most vital business-value test.

BLOG SAMPLER DEEP THOUGHTS


Dave Winer
davenet.userland.com

Doc Searls
doc.weblogs.com

Dan Gillmor
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/
siliconvalley/business/columnists/
dan_gillmor/ejournal


Boing Boing
http://www.boingboing.net

Wall Street Journal Best Of The Web
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best

Network Computing
radio.weblogs.com/0104684/
2002/07/16.html#a165


Slashdot
http://www.slashdot.org
When is a Blog a Blog?

Let us start with the questions first.

What is journalism?

What is writing?

What is a writer?

What is a reader?

What is a blog?

The first difficulty is answering these questions for ourself. Now try to arrive at a common understanding between two people with different levels of familiarity with the subject, thought processes and political leanings. Good luck.

Mike Sanders
keeptrying.blogspot.com/
2001_12_01_keeptrying_archive.html

Weblogs empower the individual, which is a mixed blessing. In addition to being magnets for a few deft writers, Web sites that aggregate blog traffic can be portals into some of the most painfully pedestrian prose generated by our say-anything culture. Here's a sample from a blog titled The Genuine College Experience: "Well, the night was long. We played with sparklers (fireworks are outlawed) and toyed with more beer. Our card game from the day lasted all night. We switched to golf. Which was something I had learnt, but can't remember now."

That excerpt, found on a quick visit to http://www.blogger.com, was low-hanging fruit--there's lots more like it. Blogging is a way for public diarists to reveal things about themselves that really should be shared only with their closest confidants, or for people to broadcast eccentric views and shallow tidbits from an electronic soapbox. Professional bloggers (yes, some make money at it through ads and reader contributions) acknowledge that not all the output is well put. "A vast amount of drivel will no doubt find its way to the Web," writes Sullivan.

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