Saturday, January 31, 2004

Blog In A Box

Hey, did you know you can blog for free? Did you know that blogging "is just now beginning to grow, and at an alarming rate! There are millions of blogs that can be found all across the internet with millions more expected to be created before the end of 2004."

"Blogging is little more than an electronic version of something many of you have most likely had and used earlier in your lives, and some of you may still be using to this very day. What is it? You can find the answer to this and more inside Blog In A Box."

Now that you're all excited about blogging, just go to eBay to bid on your copy of Blog In A Box --only $19.95.

And what do you get? Pretty much nothing. That is, nothing that you wouldn't get anyway when Blog In A Box directs you to Blogger and other free services to create your blog. Oh, you also get some templates. Let's not forget that they will also answer the question about what you had in your earlier life that is like blogging. As for the right to resell Blog In A Box, I'm not sure what that's all about. I guess once you see you're out j$19.95, you then have the right to stick it to someone else.

Jeesh! The lengths some folks will go to squeeze a few dollars out of the unsuspecting.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Blog searching

Blogs do very well with the search engines, as we've pointed out many times. You can create a blog today and be ranked 4 or even 5 in a month with Google without half trying. A corporate business site might be lucky if it gets that ranking in a year. That is precisely why so many corporate sites are including a blog as part of their strategy.

As we've also pointed out before, the reason blogs do well with Google is a combination of links, fresh content, and frequent updates. This was the point that Search Engine Marketing made today with this: "Unlike regular sites, by their very nature blogs are based on updated information which makes them extremely rich in content. Many blogs are updated several times a day with new articles, thoughts and information. After months or even weeks of inception, a blog can be seen as a wealth of topical knowledge, a quality that search engines such as Google cherish. Blogs also contain a wealth of links. Since bloggers constantly look for ways to keep their blogs updated, they are likely to provide links rather than solely create all their content themselves."

The article also pointed out the importance of blog-specific search engines: DayPop, Blog Search Engine, Feedster, BlogStreet, Blogarama, Globe of Blogs, BlogDex,, BlogWise, BlogHop, and BlogUniverse. I would add Bloogz to the list. Some blog search engines search the blogosphere while others keep their own directories of blogs. You should visit each site, see how your own blog fares, and add your site to those engines that allow submissions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Google, Blogger and now Orkut

Google has gotten to be a really interesting entity. Last year it bought Blogger. Also last year there were rumors that Google was interested in buying Friendster. This happened around the same time that the rumors of Google going public by means of an eBay-style auction started circulating. Let's not even get into the rumors about Microsoft buying Google.

For those who aren't familiar with Friendster, it quickly became a wildly popular site that puts people together through social contacts: "Friendster is an online community that connects people through networks of friends for dating or making new friends." It was a brilliant idea. A dating service without the sleazy component of dating services. You meet people the way you do in real life: through people you already know. Kind of like the difference between meeting someone at a bar versus having your sister set you up with a friend.

But last October, Friendster spurned Google and turned down a $30 million offer. The question many have asked is "Why was Google interested in Friendster in the first place?" It could be because there is huge upside in keyword search and text ads that still have untapped potential. It could also be that any site that can generate large numbers of members with indexed information is a valuable search tool resource.

Enter Orkut. Orkut is: "an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends." Sound familiar? Google is keeping quiet about Orkut, which is the brainchild of Google employee Orkut Buyukkokten. At this point Orkut is only "an affiliate of Google." So, why isn't Google going full throttle ahead with this? "One reason why Google is not plunging headlong into the social-networking market by providing more direct backing to Orkut may be the continued uncertainty about whether social networking sites can morph from online phenomena into money-making businesses." (eCommerceTimes)

Now we're maybe getting a picture of Google strategy with Blogger as well. They wanted the Blogger technology, employees, and customer base. In short, Google wanted a sizable chunk of that blogging presence. But, oh my, how do you make it profitable? There you have it in a nutshell: blogging is an online phenomenon that is very hard to morph into a profitable enterprise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

MSN toolbar

You knew it had to happen. On the heels of Bill Gates exclaiming at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that "Google has kicked our butts!" Microsoft has released the MSN Toolbar. Although only in English and still in beta, you can download it HERE.

Google accounts for about 31 percent of Internet searches to MSN's 15 percent, according to comScore Media Metrix. Yahoo draws 28 percent. Yahoo's executives estimate that each percentage share of the search market is worth $200 million (via DMNews).

The new MSN toolbar blocks pop-ups, highlights search results, and has quick links to (are you ready for this?) MS products like MSN messenger.

Monday, January 26, 2004

More on Atom, RSS, history and the future

One of the better statements I have seen on the history, current status, and future of Atom is this blog by Vishal Shah. Here are a few excerpts, but you should read the whole thing to get a good sense of the Atom vs. RSS debate:

The history: "RSS was designed to be very simple, in fact it is even known as "Really Simple Syndication". But as RSS became popular many people realized that RSS has a lot more to offer (beginning of ATOM research)..."

The current scene: "That formed the birth of ATOM, a brand new syndication format (still in PREDRAFT) led by people (Tim Bray, Mark Pilgrim, and Sam Ruby) loving XML and wanting to enhance RSS to show it's true strength. XML related specifications were out and mature. And since Dave was unwilling to change the RSS 2.0 format except bug fixes, ATOM had to emerge as a different name with different ideas and goals."

The future: "Currently very few websites and content generators syndicate in ATOM, although that might soon change. ATOM is going to catch up soon, but RSS is still going to hang on for a long long time, because it has its base well setup in many corporate tools and applications and it is going to be a while before ATOM really takes over. The current RSS Syndication Format is RSS 2.0 and the current ATOM Syndication Format is 0.3 (PRE-DRAFT). "

Since Vishal wrote this on December 28, Blogger officially came out with Atom newsfeeds for Blogger users and several newsreaders added Atom support. For those of you who want to know more, visit the AtomAPI draft.

News readers with Atom support

We'll be looking at Atom in depth in coming weeks and we'll be looking at the news readers that support Atom feeds.

Today, we'll be looking at Bloglines. This is a free service that:

"makes it easy to keep up with your favorite blogs and newsfeeds. With Bloglines, you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs, and Bloglines will monitor updates to those sites. You can read the latest entries easily within Bloglines.

Unlike other aggregators which require you to download and install software, Bloglines runs on our servers and requires no installation. Because your Bloglines account is accessible through a web browser, you can access your account from any Internet-connected machine."

We have fully tested Bloglines with our own Blogger Blog RSS and Atom feeds and Bloglines performs perfectly with either. You can also add your feed to Bloglines where others can subscribe to your blog from Bloglines.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Problems with Atom

Well, the problems aren't with Atom so much as with Blogger's implementation. First of all, what's with this thing:

That might be OK in a beta test version, but who wants that to show up whenever anyone syndicates your site? I've tested this from several other sites and it's always there. It doesn't necessarily show up with aggregators, but it does if another site pulls in your feed. Very unprofessional looking and pointless to boot.

Secondly, where are the links to the full post? Obviously if you have your settings to show partial blogs, you want the reader to be able to jump to the full post. Except for aggregators, I don't see where links are provided in Blogger's implementation of Atom.

More on Blogger RSS support

I received the following to better explain Blogger's decision to support Atom for syndication feeds:

"Hi Steve, I work on the Blogger team here at Google. I just read your latest post on the Blogger Blog, and wanted to give a bit more insight as to why we're making Atom feeds available to all our users.

First, RSS has only ever been available to BloggerPro users, and we've decided to keep providing legacy support for it.

Atom is a unified publishing standard for blogging and syndication inspired in great part by RSS — an early form of syndication that attracted attention and enthusiasm for the way in which it allowed developers and users to share and communicate personal content. However, as RSS grew in popularity developers and specialists realized this early system could not hold up under the stress of emerging demands.

This realization resulted in a massive cooperative effort to create a next generation personal publishing standard that would be 100% vendor neutral, implemented by everybody, freely extensible, and thoroughly specified. Thus, Atom was created. Blogger's commitment to this widely accepted format means that we encourage the use of Atom over RSS. For more information about Atom, you can visit the official web site

Let me know if you have any other questions."

Thursday, January 22, 2004

RSS now available on Blogger

All versions of Blogger should now see a "Site Feed" tab in their Settings window which will allow users to not only enable site feeds, but to choose between RSS and Atom.

Some serious thought has to be given as to whether you want to use standard RSS or Atom to create your site feed. At this point in time, we recommend you select "RSS" as your site feed. The reason? Every aggregator can use standard RSS while not every aggregator can decipher Atom.

Unfortunately, you cannot choose both. That would be the ideal solution: allow your users to decide between which method they want to syndicate your site. On Blogger Blog, we will be doing both. However, that entails publishing each blog twice after resetting RSS versus Atom with each blog publish cycle. A real pain, but we are doing this to be able to test both feeds with different aggregators and other syndication services.

Learn more about Blogger's implementation of Atom HERE. You can see what software supports Atom at AtomEnabled.

NOTE: If you have standard Blogger, it appears that you will not have a choice between RSS and Atom. If you elect to enable site feeds, it will be Atom.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Using Furl to find articles

Ever run across an article online that looked like something you could use in your blog, only to lose it in the dust of your browser's history?

The trouble with surfing is the exposure to a great deal of information. How many times have you had a great idea for a blog and knew the perfect source was something you ran across last week. But where is it now? How can you find it again? All you can remember is that it had something to do with cannibals.

Of course, you can go back through your browser's history and try to figure out the date you might have seen it. Seems like it was a Thursday. Mmm.... last Thursday I visited 100 sites --I wonder which one it might have been. Unless one of the sites is named "Cannibals," the subject matter of what you want is not searchable.

Enter Furl. This gem will keep track of any site, any article, any thing you run across in your surfing. It will save it and index the entire article so that you can search by keyword through all the articles you have furled. So, if you do a search on "cannibals" with Furl, it will find every article you have saved that contains "cannibals."

Furl is a new web browsing tool that lets you save and organize thousands of useful web pages (you know, the ones you want to save for future reference but then can never find again) in a personal "web page filing cabinet".

Furl is in beta but is available now as a free service. Simply download the Furl toolbar and you can Furl any site or article that looks like it might be useful to you later. Give it a try.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

What will happen to the Dean blogs?

Most blogs are created with the idea that they will be around for awhile. What about the Dean Blogs? They were created with a purpose in mind. A purpose, by the way, that is soon to come to an abrupt halt. Dean doesn't seem to be doing too well in the primaries. But how can that be? Is not Dean the darling of the common man --the blogger?

One political observer put things in perspective with the Deaners when he noted, "how do you turn 500,000 bloggers into 50 million voters?" In other words, in the scheme of things all the action and all the excitement of the "Dean blog phenomenon" is about to collapse under it's own inflated flatulence.

Will the Deaners pull together and stand united behind a new "front runner" that was or will be a front runner because of blogging? I sincerely doubt it.

The whole "blog behind the man" idea was a good deal of bogus hype that the mainstream media bought into --hook, line and sinker.

Deaners, you're all about to have to find new hobbies as the primaries reveal that self-important blogs do not a president make.

Monday, January 19, 2004

LiveJournal, one of the first, but still very alive

LinuxWorld has an interesting article by Brad Fitzpatrick, the author of LiveJournal.

"I didn't foresee any of these aspects of blogging when I launched in April 1999. In fact, I don't think the name "blogging" was even coined or in widespread use until the launch of later in the year. No, I started just to add another dynamic trinket to my already gaudy personal Web site."

One thing that makes the article interesting is the history lesson. Brad started LiveJournal as just a personal part of his Web site so his friends could post larger messages. In other words, a hacked-out message board. It was "hacked out during a two-hour break between classes for the sole purpose of leaving a sarcastic comment on a friend's post."

Brad made LiveJournal open source in 2001. LiveJournal is going strong still, with about 1.5 million accounts. LiveJournal provides free and fee based accounts for users.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Google tricks

There are a very large number of things you can get Google to do for you. Even some things you won't find in Google Hacks (a very good book). Did you know you can enter the UPC code from a product and Google will sniff out what information exists for that product?

I tried entering the UPC code number for Adpaptec's DVD Media Center into the Google search box. The UPC code will be found on just about any packaging that goes through retail. So that would include not only computer products, but books, food items, and just about anything that must go past a cash register before you leave the store. So, entering the UPC code 760884141854 (UPC codes are always 12 digits, don't confuse them with other scanner codes) returned this:

which is the UPC database site with the official information on the product.

Google also returned about 45 other hits with reviews, manufacturer information, and purchase sites for the product. Very interesting and sure to keep you busy for at least a half hour as you search around for UPC codes to feed Google.

Blogging to be more "professional" in 2004

I think everyone agrees that the blogging phenomenon will continue in 2004. The main disagreements come from where blogging will change as the year unfolds.

The WebTalkGuys see blogs getting more professional this year. That is, the growth of personal blogs will slow but the journalistic and corporate blogs will increase.

"Weblogs in 2004 will go through a transition as the explosive growth in the number of bloggers will slow, but the quality of the active blogs will become much better. The blog technology and uses will expand in 2004 to include more professional journalists, online experts, major media and corporations. The blog hype in 2003 will settle into a smaller group of bloggers as many personal blogs will go out of date for increasingly longer periods of time as many lose interest in keeping them up to date. This is the way personal webpages declined a few years ago."

Yes, exactly. Remember personal Web pages? This was the big thing a few years ago as service providers gave users free space and design tools to create free Web pages. Everyone thought it was great and the number of personal pages exploded. The trouble was, what do you do with a "personal" Web page? They just became clutter as people realized that they had no real use. Besides, they were hard to change or update. Of course, the advent of blogging with easy creation and update pretty much sealed the personal Web page's doom.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Free domain names

The cost of domain names has been coming down for years. And now, you can even get your domain name for free. And the catch?

Well, you will have the domain extension TK, not COM, ORG or even BUS. That is because the island nation of Tokelau is offering free domain names.

"Tokelau is a small island, consisting of three atolls, some 500 miles from Western Samoa and is inhabited by less then 1500 people. Living on just 17 square kilometers (12 square miles) and the only way to get there is by traveling by boat for some 42 hours. Because the island is so remote and has little means for trading and development, it is also quite poor. Enough statistics and facts, why are we giving away free domain names?"

Ahem, and the catch?

Well, first of all you don't own the license rights to the particular domain under the free plan. If you want to own the name, you have to pay an annual fee. Secondly, you have to actually have a site up and running getting at least 25 hits per 90 days. This is to avoid domain name land grabbers. The normal service is $9.95 per year for your site with domain license in your name. If you want to glom on to a name that you wanted but was already taken, like perhaps, then there is another $9.95 per year fee.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Winner of Blogger of the year award

The Week magazine announced the winners of the Annual Opinion Awards today.

The awards were presented at a luncheon in the home of Harold Evans, chairman of The Week Opinion Awards Committee and consulting editor of The Week magazine, and presided over by William Falk, editor-in-chief of The Week. "There are many admirable awards for good reporting, but insufficient recognition, it seemed to us, of the value of lucid, reasoned, even outrageous, opinion," said Harold Evans.

The Blogger of the Year award went to Joshua Micah Marshall for his blog, Talking Points Memo. Next week, The Week will publish an in-depth profile of each winner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Google IPO, the drawbacks

We've talked before about the possible changes that a publicly traded Google will undergo. One change is that investors will demand profitability. Since Google is not publicly traded at this time, most of this type of information is currently secret.

Google enjoys the reputation of being a "clean" search engine. That is, the search is paramount and free of any commercial skewing. The Washington Post has an interesting take on this:

"They worry, too, that a public Google will ultimately buckle under to investor pressure for ever-higher profit margins and sacrifice the very thing that has made it so popular: the purity of its search. The analysts point to other search companies that went public, such as Yahoo Inc., and in the process diluted their focus on search as they ventured increasingly into the realm of job listings, horoscopes, chat rooms and personal ads."

Chat rooms and horoscopes? Let's hope not.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Check your neighborhood

One of the very coolest utilities around for bloggers is the TouchGraph Google Browser. This handy thing will give you a visualization of your "neighborhood" --that is, a map of sites Google considers similar to your site. A node is created that connects to other nodes that connect to, well, you get the idea. It's easier to draw a picture than to explain:

    Blogger Forum's neighborhood

Although you probably can't read it, the yellow center in the picture above represents the Blogger Forum site. All the surrounding nodes are similar sites and links to their own similar sites. One of the cool things about this is that you can click on any site's tab and get a description of the site and a link to the site. You can also drag nodes around to get different perspectives. It allows you to see at a glance the relationship between large groups of URLs, helps you find other sites within possible interest groups, and give you some insight into how Google views your site. You can also use it to make interesting searches where you want to find areas and relationships rather than the usual Google listing of sites. Thanks to Google Hacks.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Glogs? (Cyborg Blogs)

Let's ramp the science of blogging up a notch. Suppose you are at a party and meet a famous politician who slips you a bit of information that is going to be announced later that evening. Suppose further that with a blink of your eye (literally) you can catch a photo, compose a blog, and post the scoop to your blog site --all before the politico can turn to squeeze the next hand in line.

Welcome to the world of cyborg blogging. At this point in time, pretty much exclusively the world of Steve Mann:

"While the small video camera gives him a recordable, real-time view of what's in front of him, the tiny screen is filled with messages or programming code fed by a computer and wireless transmitters that Mann straps to his body. He calls the experience "mediating reality" -- sort of like having icons from your computer screen transposed onto your regular vision."

This gets you to wearable computers and EyeTap technology: "The eye itself as display and camera."

"EyeTap is a device which allows, in a sense, the eye itself to function as both a display and a camera. EyeTap is at once the eye piece that displays computer information to the user and a device which allows the computer to process and possibly alter what the user sees. That which the user looks at is processed by the EyeTap. This allows the EyeTap to, under computer control, augment, diminish, or otherwise alter a user's visual perception of their environment, which creates a Computer Mediated Reality."

Saturday, January 10, 2004

More on Atom

Users of Blosxom now have an Atom plug-in available. It's called Atomfeed. Atom should be coming to Blogger soon.

Not everyone is a complete Atom fan. Jeremy Smith sees Atom as a blog-specific tool rather than a stage in the evolution of RSS. In other words, Atom for blogs, RSS for other Websites.

"Now, can we all move along? RSS will be supported in a lot of capacities. Atom will be supported in a lot of capacities. The world will not end. Armageddon is not upon us."

Take a look and make sure you read the comments to his post.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Blogging to reach people with similar interests

We all have different motives for blogging. I would guess that the motive that perhaps unites all bloggers is the desire to reach out to others with similar interests. Dave Jung was the only person at his job who cared about the type of sales and marketing work he does.

"So he did what thousands, perhaps millions of people hoping to reach others with a common interest have done: He became a blogger. A year and a half ago, Jung created his own blog -- short for Weblog-- an online journal, his personal worldwide forum to air his thoughts about marketing and technology and solicit input from others."

"The purpose is to let me express myself, I feel comfortable expressing myself in writing. I have this thought, and the only way I can make it concrete is by putting it into writing, having that invisible person to talk to. It becomes your soap box. At the very least, it allows me to express my thoughts and observations, whether anybody's listening or not."

Dave's blog is done with Blogger. He has several other blogs he runs, most are more personal in nature.

Blog search engines

If you want to search just the blogosphere, how do you do it? Ari Paparo dot com has taken the trouble of putting together all the Blog search resources into one place. From Bligz to Zopto, he has them all. (via Library Stuff)

"Following are all the blog search engines, directories, and web-based RSS aggregators I could find, along with brief instructions on getting your site listed. I'm sure I missed something so use the 'comments' for any updates."

There were quite a few comments adding a couple of more search engines. Very interesting read.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Salam Pax is one dang good writer

Every time I start to read something Salam Pax writes, I can't stop thinking how talented he is. His version of American idiom is sometimes not quite there, which adds to the charm. Things like "I was biting down on my nails."

Besides doing most of Where is Raed?, he also contributes as a columnist to the Guardian under the byline the Baghdad Blogger. In today's issue, he discusses what it's like to get a cellphone in Iraq (cellphones were illegal under Saddam):

I went to the Jelawy supermarket for some shopping only to find a long queue at the entrance. We have learned from the 80s always to stand in these queues, because the state central markets would be selling something cheaper than the price on the street. It might just be batteries or it could be an air-conditioner; it doesn't matter. You join that queue.

So I waited my turn. But the people coming out were carrying nothing in their hands. Well, it might be something small but valuable, I thought, so I waited until I was actually in the shop and could see what we were queueing for. There was a sign: a white piece of cardboard with information on how to apply for a mobile phone - yes, haibis, we are finally getting mobile phones. After all the rumours and scandals, the network is up.

Blog ranking can be pointless

Try this: do a search on "blog" with Google and see what happens. You should get the most important blogs, right?

Obviously, sites like Blogger and BlogSpot will appear in that list. You can also bank on actual blogs like Wil Wheaton and Dave Barry showing up somewhere in the top ten. But this is where things fall apart a little, at #6 --even if you limit Google to the last seven days-- is William Gibson's blog. Now, I'm sure it's a very nice blog that deserves high ranking. But here's the problem: he stopped blogging as of September 12, 2003:

Time for me to get back to my day job, which means that it's time for me to stop blogging. I've found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I've most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I'm doing this I'm definitely not writing a novel – that is, if Imm still blogging, I'm definitely still on vacation. I've always known, somehow, that it would get in the way of writing fiction, and that I wouldn't want to be trying to do both at once. The image that comes most readily to mind is that of a kettle failing to boil because the lid's been left off.

Therein lies one of the many problems with site rankings, and with blogs in general: they sometimes get left as the flotsam and jetsam of the Internet ocean. So this leads to other debates: even if a blog is dead, shouldn't the content still be indexed? Of course it should; but ranking for something like a blog that depends on updated content but isn't being updated should be part of the Google algorithm.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Google IPO won't be by auction?

After all the hoopla a couple of months ago about Google going the unique route of not using investment bankers for their IPO, it now looks like they are. As a matter of fact, it looks like the IPO is going to be handled by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group. You don't get much stodgier than that.

Too bad. The idea of ditching the usual channels and saving a bundle in fees by taking the Bloogle (Blogger+Google) stock offering directly to the public had an awful lot of appeal. One of the original ideas was to take the public offering online in an eBay sort of framework. Now, all the investment banks are scrambling for a piece of what looks to be around a $6 billion public offering of about one-half the company's stock. As the ElectricNews release said:

The firm's most recent high profile acquisition was that of Blogger, the popular Weblogging software company, which gave the company a toehold in the burgeoning world of self-publishing.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Blogger to have RSS soon, likely to be Atom

We've been criticizing Blogger for months over the lack of RSS feeds for Blogger users. RSS is a feature that came with Blogger Pro. When Blogger dropped the Pro version, that left only former Pro users with RSS capability. Any new users were stuck with a hybrid Blogger version with some Pro features, but lacking RSS.

The reason for not implementing RSS with the standard Blogger is starting to become apparent. It looks like Blogger is going to go with Atom as it's RSS resource. And the reason? Just look at the different RSS versions floating around to see why. At our alternate Blogger Blog site, we even give users a choice between RSS .92 (Userland), RSS 1.0 (RDF), and RSS 2.0 (Userland). That is the problem: RSS is getting squeezed by the sheer volume of information and none of the current standards are up to handling the traffic. Current RSS protocols are based on prior work. For a good discussion of the problem, go to the Teledyn blog:

Herein the black hole of RSS: If your feed works, if you are successful in attracting subscriptions on a global scale, if you do it right, you are doomed. As friends tell friends, as links lead to visits which lead to subscribers, the snowball rolls on towards that day like last Friday. RSS may have the potential to be a saver on bandwidth, but when you are getting hit once an hour or more by thousands of sites, 24,000 extra hits ads up, and it's all the worse when so many are using broken clients that ignore the caching rules.

The fact that Blogger is going with Atom is not really news. Its' been known by insiders for some time. Add to that fact that each of the Pyra boys (founders of Blogger) is currently using Atom for their own blog's feeds: Evan Williams, Steve Johnson, and Jason Shellen.

So, what is Atom? Start with this slideshow to learn the nitty-gritty. To summarize: Atom is "an initiative to develop a common syntax for syndication, archiving, and publishing. Sam Ruby (Emerging Technologies Group, IBM) is most often credited for originating the core ideas, and design work spread across several wikis and weblog Internet sites is now being shared by some of the brightest developer minds focused upon the future of Web content creation and distribution."

Atom "will be vendor neutral, implemented by everybody, freely extensible by anybody, and cleanly and thoroughly specified. Atom is sometimes characterized as the successor to RSS (Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary), which is variably used for news headline syndication, website metadata description, and content syndication. Like RSS, Atom is being created through an informal consensus process by volunteers in the Web developer community at large." Learn more here.

Blogger has kept all of this pretty close to it's corporate vest. Although there have been no announcements, you can probably expect to see a roll-out by the end of this month. Those of you who have been patient will be rewarded. As for the Blogger users who have left because of a lack of RSS, my own opinion is that some news from the corporate level should have been forthcoming months ago. The Blogger users who have gone elsewhere won't be coming back. We'll be looking in the coming days at other questions this brings up, including the issue of whether Blogger has the muscle to push Atom as the new standard.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Homeless Guy quitting?

One of the more successful blogs around is The Homeless Guy. As a matter of fact, it has made it into our Top Ten BlogSpot hosted sites a couple of times.

"I no longer feel it's my responsibility to continue with it. A year and a half is a long time to write about any one subject. There are other things I want to do with my time, and now is as good a time as any to start doing them."

That's a shame because it was a good blog. I suspect from the tone of this last post that he is suffering from the Blahgs --a term I believe I coined a year or so ago to describe blogging burnout. This is something that all of us seem to go through after the first year.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Israel Insider to include blog

From an article in IsraelInsider about what they plan for 2004, comes the statement "we believe in blogging."

"We know from the thousands who use and view our wildly successful Talkback system that you have strong opinions! If a blog can propel a guy like Howard Dean to national prominence, just think of what it will do for our current readers and future bloggers. Look for this interactive feature soon..."

This will be a trend in 2004 as more of the established news sources realize the importance of blogging.

Blogger to move more into limelight in 2004?

An article in the UK's inSourced talks about the influential sites for 2003. Google is discussed first as a site so popular "it became a verb."

After talking about other sites listed in the Top Ten for the year (an interesting read), Blogger is singled out as the "least mainstream" but the most likely to become mainstream in 2004:

"Blogger is a tool that lets you publish your own ‘blog’, or web diary. The Blogger company was bought by Google last year, a sure sign that ‘blogging’ is moving further overground. Even if nobody you know has a blog now, in another year someone will. The significance of blogging is the way it allows communication on every level - politicians reach out to their public through their blogs, and the public ‘blog’ to share stories and pictures from their lives with friends. What’s next? The least mainstream of the sites on this list, Blogger is likely to move further into the limelight in 2004."

Alternatives to Blogger

Here's a comment I picked up today from the Blogger User Support Group on Yahoo:

Take a look at which I now use after having tired
of Blogger going down so often and no useful responses to problems
but usually simply NO reponse. (Something that didn't/hasn't changed
since Google took over ... odd given Google seems to be generally on
the ball with its other services.) Whenever I've needed help Bloghorn
responds quickly and helpfully ... a case of where "less is
more", "small is beautiful" or whatever other appropriate cliche you
want to call upon.

We had not heard of Bloghorn before, but will probably add it to our comprehensive review of blogging software that we are preparing.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Scanning the political landscape

Here's an interesting idea: create a news aggregator-like service that scans politics oriented sites and serves them up in your own custom window. This is exactly what sixtyseconds does for you. From their site:

sixtyseconds organizes and manages your personalized selections in news and political sites. It programatically scours news, polling organizations, blogs, columnists and political cartoons -- scanning for and posting content updates. When one of your favorite columnists or news sites is updated, it lets you know.

When you set up your service (which is free, by the way), you answer a few brief questions about your political leanings (right, far right, left, moderate --and so on). Based on what you say, it chooses the sites you will probably find most interesting. You can fine-tune the results if you want to add additional sites. You can also limit selections to blogs only, cartoons, and so on. Try it out.