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Sunday, July 13, 2003

Will This Work?

I'm back on line - at least partially. I'm down in Valencia in a small village, meeting Bulgarians and trying to understand what is happening to their country. The weather is marvellous, and there is a very nice 'sierra' 15 minutes away with cool breezes and fresh spring water in the shade when you get desperate. In fact I am in a cyber-cafe run by a young Bulgarian. So, at least round here, the Bulgarians are bringing the new technologies to the Spanish.

Meanwhile I see that AOL want to start a 'blogging type' programme of their own. They say they want to change the name to Journal, since people find the term 'blog' confusing. Just like once people found the terms internet and e-mail confusing, I suppose. The shock of the new. Will it work? I doubt it. I doubt everything in principle about AOL, but I also doubt that those who find blogger hard to use are going to have sufficient patience and imagination to persevere with what is, at the end of the day, an enjoyable, but quite demanding hobby. As they say, we''ll see.

The "blogosphere" may never be the same after America Online releases free blog-publishing software to its 34 million members this summer. AOL this month began showing demos of its tools for creating Web logs, or blogs, to veteran bloggers. AOL has dubbed its service "AOL Journals" because its surveys showed that members found the word "blogs" confusing, said Rick Robinson, AOL's vice president for community products. Whatever you call them, the idea is a Web page that people can update frequently with commentary and links to material they find interesting online. Blog software automates posting the commentary, images and links. AOL will give members three ways to update their blogs -- through an online template with blank boxes for text input, through AOL's instant-messaging system or by telephone. The phone option will be available only to subscribers to the extra-cost "AOL by Phone" service, who will be able to leave voice messages that will be posted as MP3 sound files.

To publish via instant messaging, AOL members will send a text message to an IM software "bot" -- or automated script -- that will post the message to the user's blog. The IM posting will work only with AOL's internal messaging system, not its free AOL Instant Messenger program. Robinson said this would be a quicker way to publish than navigating to a Web page to type into a form: "You might have a fleeting thought you want to capture, and you don't want to take the extra few seconds to go and open up the publishing interface." Robinson said AOL Journals will support a popular syndication system called RSS that lets people use news-reading software to get updates automatically from blogs they like. AOL members will also be able to post photos from the service's "You've Got Pictures" area in their blogs. The new service will be made available to all AOL subscribers later this summer as part of the preview version of AOL's new "9.0 Optimized" software.

Source: Washington Post

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