Jeff Barr's Blog

Things I Like..

Blog Business Summit – DL Byron and Molly Holzschlag

Topic is picking a Platform: Blogging Engines Compared.

DL Byron of clip-n-seal, innovative product. A blogging success story Also built the Blog Business Summit web site.

Molly has a book on Movable Type coming out, and an instructional video.

Survey: Who runs a blog using a hosted solution? 25% Survey: Who uses something more robust like WordPress or Movable Type? 25%

Blogging engine is the software that drives your weblog. Numerous admin features. Types are: Commercial, hosted, server-side, roll your own.

Commercial solutions — AOL Hometown, MSN Spaces. Pros: Free or low cost, basic templating options, no high-tech experience required. Probably integrated with other stuff. Cons: Very little in the way of customization features. Not scalable to professional level. Companies can sometimes own content, you loose IP rights to your own info. Association with strong brand weakens your own brand. Limited (if any) export. Not great for the long term. Good way to get started and to test out the concept and your ideas.

Hosted systems. Demo blogger, and DL showed some old blogs he’d written, abandoned, and forgotten about. Demo TypePad, which has some rich templating options. Overall, pros are that they are low cost or free, easy to set up, feature rich, including comments and photoblogs, include import and export features, good for new bloggers or bloggers without high-tech experience. Anil Dash notes that the better ones can create a staging server to let you build stuff, test it, and then roll it out. [Note: I have learned that the ability to do this can be important given that there are often timing considerations when you need to coordinate with a product launch or traditional PR.]

Q: Hosting photos on blogger? A: On blogger, can tie in to Picasa, FlickR, and something called Hello.

Q: Right-click “blog this” favelet? A: Yes, there are lots of favelets around.

Note to crowd, be careful to turn pinging off or people will find you before you are ready. Make things private until you are ready.

Note from audience, Blogware is a good, low-profile hosted service. They use a reseller model, and the brand is kept in the background.

Q: Speak a bit more about the concept of a staging environment? A: Keep stuff off of public servers until you are ready; this is a common thing we’ve done for years in the web development space. Marc Canter chimes in, use a separate private blog, never publish, while you get the requisite corporate approvals. Anil follows up, Washington Post created a blog using a server on a laptop, do it all locally, test out workflow, get it ready to go, then copy & paste to get the stuff over to the production blog. Scoble notes that these staged delay-blogs can be sensed, they are never current. Molly agrees, you can’t catch the wave of a topic that’s of the moment. She doesn’t do any staging on her blog; it is all spontaneous. She notes that these are all nascent technologies, that this stuff is all brand new and that it will be years before real best practices emerge.

Q: Take us out into the future, what will it look like? Where is it trending, what might we expect? A: From DL, RSS workflow. Got newsreader, find the posts about something, automate the blogging process. Drop it into a box, get Google to auto-populate it with links to the stuff you are writing. [I could go for this; adding outside links while blogging live is hard]. From Molly: TBL and the semantic web, social layer and technical layer. More interaction between a variety of devices: PDA, phone, pager, web. This is the harbinger of that vision. DL: It may be a blog but not called one, just part of the web site. From Bill Kearney, a lot of this is reinventing the wheels that the KM (Knowledge Management) invented a decade ago, including workflow and staging. You need to try a couple of tools along the way, figure out the right direction before you spend a ton of money on a full-scale solution like Vignette. Molly notes that CMS is getting easier, Bill replies that more choices are always better. Molly notes that the user doesn’t and shouldn’t care what technology you are using. DL notes that most CMS implementations fail, but blogging is rock and roll, phenomenal.

Molly talks about Jeff Veen, CMS’s and why we don’t need one.

Back to pros of hosted service. Great for new bloggers. Now the cons: Perhaps limited in where you can host, some feature limitations, extensibility can be limited. Reliance on templates can create a less professional result. Less scalable.

Ok, on to server-side solutions. Movable Type from Six Apart and WordPress. Molly notes that she gets a lot of Word Press comment spam; I already fixed that. Open source or licensed, complete customization, db-drive, scalable.

Cons: need technical knowledge, template customization is hard, vulnerable for comment spam, mixed quality of tech support, exxcellent for long term scalable professional blog (that’s a pro, not a con). She would recommend either one for her clients.

Getting started, try commercial or hosted first. Prime time, look into server-side hosting solutions.

DL, first you pine for comments, then you get some only to find that they are all spam. Demo of comment moderation.

Ok, that’s a wrap we are running late!