A Vision of Next Generation Blogging Tools

A Vision of Next Generation Blogging Tools

Dave Winer posed a question on the BloggerCon site for discussion, perhaps at BloggerCon II.

Premise: We’ve reached a plateau in blogging tools. There haven’t been a lot of changes in the last two or three of years. The growth continues, lots more weblogs, and we’ve got better tools for reading (aggregators).

Question: What’s next in writing tools for weblogs? If you could influence people who are making the tools, what feature or features would you want? Think as big as you like, or as detailed as you like. What bug is most in your way. Ramble, please. Is there one thing you’d kill for? Or perhaps you’re satisfied with the tools as they are. I hope your comments are on the record so I can assemble a quote sheet as the beginning of a conversation that I hope will yield better tools for all of us.

I am attempting to summarize some of the discussion that was generated by this, as archived in the comments and the TrackBacks.

Lisa Williams posted the first summary of this discussion.

Behind every wishlist lurks a manifesto.

Be it as humble as the grocery list, as innocent (and voluminous) as a kid’s missives to the north pole, as big as a National Five Year plan, our wish lists tell us what we really want, and perhaps a bit of who we really are — or at least who we want to be. The harried person in the supermarket chooses chicken soup because they want comfort; a kid wants a bike because they want freedom; the politicians want increases in production of everything from ball bearings to grain because they want prosperity, abundance (and not incidentally, re-election).

But what do bloggers want?

Shimon Rura did an amazing job categorizing the posts so far.

Michael Fagan wanted a summary. He got 3 of them!

Ryan Tate on the idea:

This page is probably the single best roadmap to the future of the consumer software industry I have ever seen.

Microsoft, Google, Apple et. al. should tap in. This is the ultimate focus group.

Benoit Bisson on Lisa’s summary:

Keywords that came up: simplicity, ability to blog anything, anywhere, anytime, connectivity, community, conservation.

People – ordinary people, not tech heads – want to blog, and they want it as simple as writing in a diary, with the same ease to mix content. Add to that the ability to make that content – audio, video, photos, text – available on the Web, easily archived, easily searched.

The tools for blogging, ideally, should be invisible as far as tech goes, yet powerful enough to handle content in the form the user chooses – not the software maker.

I will organize primarily by type of feature or comment, and on occasion I will point to a place that talks about this problem in depth if I know of it.

Archive

Erik Neu would like to be to avoid link rot in what he links to. He has the outline of how to implement this as well, basically he’d like his tool to copy the text and change the link when the text changes.

Pedro Daniel would like to have a portable back format for switching between systems, possible just an RSS feed of all your posts.

Rauno Saarinen would like to be able to have “Slashdot Insurance” and have his blog mirrored automatically when traffic picks up. (Note: The Freenet Project has a feature like this.)

Create

Brian Sullivan would like a stronger editor, preferably one that is stable, with special checking and previewing, and makes integrating multimedia easier. (Also Mark Seifert.) (Also Sarah Looney, who adds that a thesaurus would be great too.)

Jack Foster Mancilla would like not only to have the ability to integrate multimedia into his posts easier, but would also like his system to manage the data about those pictures in a Who/Where/When/What/etc style.

Tom Degrémont would like for blogs to find “nice resting places, once they’ve expired their last post.” This is something we’ve talked about at Berkman Thursdays in relation to the Dean/Clark blogs.

Mike Lougee takes Tom’s idea and runs with it, think it would nice to make a “blogs-to-paper” system for permanently archiving blogs.

Dale Pike would like tighter integration with blogging and the system he already he has. He’d like to interact with bloggers with whatever tool he wants, giving email as an example. Why can’t he email a blog post? Or, reply to a comment email and have it show up as a comment?

Steven joins in asking for spell checking, valid code generators, and a good drafts system, to save posts for latter. This is n-th’d by

Ron Jeffries.

Pete Prodoehl wants quality and valid code over features.

Rauno Saarinen would like to be able to share calendar information on his blog more effectively.

Phil Wolff wants to be able to give geographic data about everything on his blog for filtering purposes later.

Phil Wolff, who accounts for about half of all the comments, thinks that “Print to Blog” or “Save to Blog” option would be convenient.

Tilman Haerdle would like “perfect” support for offline blogging.

Rob Robinson would like a way to license his feeds and issue keys that unlock them.

Cesare Lamanna would like more simplicity and thinks that large number of diverse systems will be the best way to do this.

Benoit Bisson would like more integration with his browser, Firefox, for editing and better support for W3C standards.

Fabrice would like for his blogging to much more transparent to the way he uses the computer, he resounds the call to make it easy to “upgrade” any document, email, page, etc to a blog post.

Connect

“Dan” would like a way to notice if a page he is looking at has been blogging, but without the overhead of going to Technorati. He’d like it to be an automatic “emblem” on a page.

Jim Biancolo would like a more decoupled comment system as well as threaded comments for his posts.

Phil Wolff would like his comments on other people’s blogs to be cross-posted to a side-blog on his blog to control the spread of his internet identity. (Note: Phil also posts some links to proposed solutions to many of the above problems.)

Bruce Landon wants to be able to connect to more, to do this he thinks it would be nice to have a translation tool to accurately transform his text into different “levels” of English and other languages.

Mars F. would like an authentication system like a PKI for posters and commenters so he could have a distributed identity with different privileges in different places.

Pea would like to be able to link to anywhere on the web, not just to a page, but to a particular word on the page. (There is a W3C standard for this, see XPointer.) (2nd: Bob Stepno.)

Peter Eschenbrenner wants better support for loosely coupled conversations. He wants to know if some replies to a blogger who replied to him. (There is a W3C standard for this, see Annotea.)

Darren Rowse would like a way of showing his readers what entries have been “most viewed in the last 24 hours,” so they can know what are “hot topics.”

Jeff Jarvis wants more intuitive tools, in more languages, and without techno-speak. This will enable more people to interact and expand the blogging world.

Scott Johnson, of Feedster, wants all tools to support RSS feeds for their comments. This will make searching RSS feeds more effective.

Stephane would like to be ale to easily setup a relationship between his blog and another, particularly to associate his blog with his students and (perhaps?) approve their posts. He thinks this would be a small thing that would great aide blogs in education. (Note: This is a very rough understanding/translation of the original French.)

Jon Husband thinks that the next step of blogging is more general and powerful social networking software:

Blogging and its dynamics is about online presence, the experience of self and others online, and the exchange of value, whether psychic, emotional or knowledge-based economic value

There’s a new application being developed here in Vancouver that will be useful for blogging, bloggers and the spread of blogging-like microcontent assemby and publishing into social networking domains – workplaces or virtual private social networks where work gets done and deals start.. It’s derived from and designed based upon some fundamental cognitive research as to how the human-computer interface supports (or not) the way humans think and put together thoughts to create knowledge.

Consume

Blair Fannin would like an easy way to put all the audio and possibly the text “audio-ized” onto his iPod to take with him. He’d like to listen to the daily news, but from a blogger.

Franz Scherz wants to be able to filter out blog entries that point to stories he’s already read. Like the Universal Story Id proposal.

Phil Wolff would like many ways of filtering his aggregator content (viruses, family, etc) and getting recommendations for feeds/items he might like by his history of linking or “voting” on certains items/feeds. In his words: “Prioritization Filtering Trusted referral Summarization Threading Geo sensititivity Clustering Behavior analysis and related techniques to manage the flow in a reasonable time.”

Mars F. would like easier syndication… preferably one-click.

Anna would like a way to annotate that she is providing new content, commentary, or just propagating links. Then someone could filter their intake based on this.

Tilman Hardle would like to be able to subscribe to non-RSS/Atom content and just be notified when it changes.

Philosophy

Jason Fried thinks that the discussion is too focused on features. He says that the problem with blogging is not that there are key features missing, but that people don’t “get it” and it needs to be simpler.

A note from me on Fried: Perhaps the discussion should be split in two: How to make blogging more accessible to more people, and how to make blogging more featured for the “experts.” Basically some people need to work at getting what we already have to the masses, while others look at what’s next–which one to we want to talk about?

Adam Curry makes an important point related to the above, and (sorry Phil Wolff) lends his support to the simplicity crowd:

Dave poses an important question. If I could have answered this question after the release of Word 1.0, would I have asked for all the features Word has now? There’s probably a lot of overlap there and we might only wind up creating more bloatware.