Blogs in Action

Attended the Blogs in Action seminar organized by Six Apart and sponsored by Nokia Lifeblog. Highlight was most definitely John Dale talking about the very ambitious and very successful project to make blogs available to all Warwick University staff and students at Warwick blogs.

Perhaps the very best thing about the Warwick blogs was the “slice n dice” aspect. You can elect to get feeds of people on your course, people in your hall of residence, people with the same interests as you, individuals you pick. You can publish to everyone in the world, everyone at Warwick, a group of three people. They seemed to have thought of so many useful options. Plus all the design work seemed to be very user-focused. I really wish that this had been available to me as an undergraduate or (especially) now as a part-time postgraduate (where actual physical attendance is sporadic).

Tom Coates spoke about his blogging experiences. Another in the line of those who have been doing it fairly intensely for about five years and have gone through the cycle of loving it, feeling their privacy invaded, getting bored, and so on. I’m sure there’s a cycle that is repeated across bloggers that is just as predictable as the shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance cycle of the grieving process. I liked it when he called Dave Winer the “Arch Demon of Webloggery”. His core point was that a weblog is a representation of a person (almost like a suit you wear) and that anything that went away from that (group blogs, blogs about one topic only) would have to have something (like money) to propel them along or they would only be short-lived.

Neil McIntosh of Guardian Unlimited talked about how the Guardian’s blogging was started on expenses on a credit card because of the difficulty of getting it through IT. Their blogs are closely watched for offensive and libellous comments but the default response is hands off. He explained how blogging enabled the newspaper to get valuable feedback and sometimes correct mistakes before they went to print. He went some way towards refuting his own quote, “mainstream media trying to do blogs is like watching a vicar disco dance”. What he didn’t do was explain how the Guardian could make money off blogging. He sees the work as experimentation in a new form of journalism rather than having a responsibility to produce revenue or even promote the Guardian brand.

Dominique Busso, CEO of VNUNet Europe talked about their “corporate blogs” — approximately one for each print magazine that VNU produce. He quoted Dan Gilmore: “my readers know more” and said that the blogs for the print journals stopped the print journalists having web envy of their online colleagues as they had done during the bubble.

Charlie Schick from Nokia Lifeblog tried to convince us that blogging from your phone is a good complement to blogging from your computer. He’s never seen my phone, then. One interesting point he made is that with cameras in phones geting better and going up to VGA quality and beyond, posting from your mobile is prohibitively slow and that 3G won’t fix this because it is still slow upstream, just fast(er) downstream.

Far more complete notes were made on this event by Suw Charman.

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