In light of the recognition that our co-founders have recently gotten, Mena's written up a year in review post talking about the progress that Six Apart has made since Ben and Mena founded the company as well as the amazing strides that weblogs and bloggers have made overall. It's a great look back and an optimistic look at what's ahead.
It's been a very good year for Ben, me, Six Apart and weblogging as a whole. With the year's end, we have received a number of recognitions that we find particularly surreal because of their enormity and significance. When I look back at my first post on dollarshort.org, the weblog that got me into blogging, I can't even fathom how different our lives have become.
One recognition, the PC Magazine honor of "People of the Year" was not only jaw-droppingly exciting to receive, but also a nice reminder of the roots of weblogging. To be up there with Ev, Meg and PB made us realize that we've been doing this for quite some time and it's been a shared effort among a lot of people. If we are looking at people who shaped and helped weblogging mature, we should also include Dave Winer, Noah Grey, Tim O'Reilly for his early support and all those who had weblogs before they were even called blogs. To receive the same award that also has been given to people like Linus Torvalds, Jerry Yang and David Filo and Sergey Brin and Larry Page certainly blows us away.
While the award was given to five particular people, it should also be considered a shared award with webloggers. This certainly was the year that weblogging penetrated the mainstream. Blogging "grew up" with it being recognized as word of the year by Webster's Dictionary, mentioned on countless major media and tv outlets without explanation (including my favorite, The Daily Show). This was the same year that Time Magazine considered Bloggers as "people of the year" and had a category for blog of the year.
Another recognition we have received and will be honored with in February is the Demo 15 World-Class innovators. We were recognized "for making blogging accessible, affordable and powerful, giving a voice to tens of thousands of individuals." I'm proud of that description since we have always wanted to create the tools that could be considered not only a vehicle for personal voice, but also a powerful, usable way to communicate. We're humbled to be in the company of the other 14 innovators who join us on the Demo 15 -- people like Kai Krause, Dan Bricklin and Marc Andreessen.
Tomorrow we will be moving into our new offices in San Francisco. Last July, I toured our current 1400 square foot office in San Mateo and said "this should be enough room for a year." Almost 30 people later, we're ready to move into our new space. Not only will we have more room, but we'll finally be in a space that will be conducive to even more collaboration and bonding. Last Friday we had our Holiday party in which staff members were invited to bring their spouses and children. As Ben and I gave our speech thanking everyone for being part of the team, we realized how much we have truly grown. I have never known such a great crew of people to work with and I'm so grateful that they have made sacrifices to come and work at Six Apart. We build weblogging tools because we believe in the medium and our biggest inspiration is you, our users.
We look forward to a great 2005 and can only imagine that like 2004, will have its highs and lows. As far as New Year's resolutions we promise to be even more communicative with you. In return, we ask for your continued support and understanding that a growing company needs some room to make mistakes. We can not guarantee that we won't make any mistakes, but we will work our hardest to be the same company -- philosophically -- that Ben and I started over three years ago.
As part of the ongoing efforts against comment spam, Jay Allen has released Blacklist v2.03-beta. This release is designed to take advantage of the improvements in Movable Type 3.14, and the combination of the two is an excellent way to manage comment spam while not imposing too much of a burden on your web server.
If you're using an older version of MT-Blacklist, it's strongly recommended that you update to this new version. And just to review, MT-Blacklist, despite the name, MT-Blacklist offers a wide variety of techniques to manage or moderate comments or block spam, in addition to its namesake Blacklisting feature.
David Raynes has released the first part of his planned set of features for enabling workflow in Movable Type, appropriately entitled Workflow 0.5. It's a good start at enabling some much-requested functionality for Movable Type, allowing you to route ownership of a post to other authors in the system.
As noted on the Movable Type homepage, we've released four new international versions of Movable Type. The details for purchasing licenses are explained on the Movable Type site, but we wanted to take the time to give a little more explanation to our Professional Network community about how the new versions work.
First, the Spanish, French, Dutch, and German translations are all official professional translations of Movable Type. In addition to the application interface, all of the documentation has been localized to each of the supported languages, as have the default templates. (The Dutch release currently contains only English documentation.)
The Movable Type Store interface for each release has also been localized, and the support ticket system for each language features responses in your local language. The new store interface allows purchase of any license in Euros as well.
Finally, all the international releases contain all the official language packs (excluding Japanese), enabling your authors to choose the appropriate language. As always, language settings are on a per-author basis.
Note: If you upgrade an existing US-english MT version with an international version, you will need to manually edit your language settings in your profiles as current weblog settings will not be overwritten.
All of us at Six Apart are extremely proud of two extraordinary bits of recognition that our co-founders Ben and Mena Trott have received. First, in conjunction with Evan Williams, Meg Hourihan, and Paul Bausch, the co-founders of Blogger, PC Magazine has named Ben and Mena as People of the Year. In addition, DEMO has named them among the 15 World-Class Innovators of the past 15 years. Both awards put them in the company of people like Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Marc Andreessen.
Just as importantly, this recognition shows how far Six Apart has progressed under their guidance, how much the entire weblog industry has grown in stature and influence, and most of all what a dramatic impact the creativity and inspiration of bloggers can have on technology and the world at large.
Congratulations to Ben and Mena and to the entire community of bloggers, partners and employees that they represent.
With the release of Movable Type 3.14, a lot of people are revisiting the topic of comment spam and offering their opinions. I talked to eWeek's Matt Hicks for their story Movable Type Fixing Bug as Spam Clogs Blogs, and eWeek also has some good discussion over on Sean Gallagher's blog about the tactics that can be used. Meanwhile, Tim Appnel posted Freedom is Slavery on his O'Reilly blog, as an overview of the fact that all comment options on the web are essentially a tradeoff between openness and accountability.
Gothamist recently published its Policies for comments, author contributions, and weblog ethics. It's a good lead that will need to be followed by all professional weblog publishers in order to reaffirm the credibility of the new medium.
Given the ongoing discussion of weblog ethics that has resurfaced with Nick Denton's proposal for a weblog ethics organization, it's good to point out examples that can be used as a template. As Jeff Jarvis has explained, some shared ideas around ethics policies can go a long way towards addressing the issue without a need for a formal or centralized effort.
It's the end of the year, so the "Best Of" lists have started, with a great list coming from Fimoculous.com. Most of the sites named on the list are powered by Movable Type, and a few TypePad sites make a showing, too. Congratulations on all the well-deserved accolades.
Illustrator Kevin Cornell has just launched his professional portfolio site, Bearskinrug, the Homepage. An amazing design, numerous subtle touches and a smart use of categories and comments make this Movable Type-powered site a terrific showcase.
The TypePad team has just added an elegant new way to include your Amazon wishlist on your TypePad weblog. There's a slick display of images of items from your wishlist, and a simple interface for looking up your list just by entering in your email. With the holidays in full swing, you'll want to update your TypePad site post haste.
Thanks in large part to the help and feedback from Professional Network members, we've just released Movable Type 3.14. This release addresses the performance issues detailed last week, and we'll be providing additional guidance and information to ProNet members later this week once this release is deployed. Thank you to all who contributed and tested this version over the weekend.
We've just released Movable Type 3.14, which addresses the server load issues we've been discussing for the past few days. Mena has reiterated some of the motivations behind our larger effort to fight comment spam, and the first step has been addressing Movable Type's perfomance issues when under attack from spammers.
As we provide more information on our future recommendations for Movable Type users, these will appear on the Movable Type weblog and resources for web hosts and consultants will appear on the Professional Network weblog. For the simplest way to keep up to date, your main menu in Movable Type lists headlines from Movable Type News and will automatically update when a new version is released.
Rick Bruner is compiling a list of Business Blog Consulting Companies, and he's already got a formidable list. It's quite a testament to the medium that so many people are starting to make a living using weblogs, and we'd of course extend an invitation to any consultants who haven't already joined the Professional Network to sign up. We're trying to refer as many leads to blog consultants as possible while also providing resources and information to help grow your weblog business.
Another week, another blog story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. This week's "Your Blog or Mine?" offers the dubious assertion that "[s]ex is the favorite topic for online journals" but does a good job of covering the boundaries between the public and private lives of bloggers that are increasingly being redefined.
Time's Person of the Year issue has a pair of stories on blogs this year. The first, 10 Things We Learned About Blogs, is viewable online and offers a list of popular blogs and the lessons they've offered in 2004. There's also a piece entitled "Blogs Have Their Day" which names the Movable Type-powered Powerline blog as the blog of the year.
As Anil said over at Six Log, there's been a lot of talk about comment spam and Movable Type lately and we've been listening. We're constantly weighing the pros and cons of sharing information before we're completely sure about solutions for our users, but we do realize that more information is better.
When you're receiving 10,000 obscene comments in the span of an hour, it's completely understandable the amount of frustration that mounts. We waited to communicate all the issues until we had better idea of what was happening. And, because we waited we were able to delve deeper into the issue.
Thankfully, our message to our users evolved from "there *are* ways to solve the issue" to, "actually, we made a mistake."
The sort of bugs we discovered were significant, but we were extremely relieved to have found them -- really because they were addressable and it wasn't necessarily a case of the spammers winning.
The upcoming release (scheduled for tonight) will focus on these improvements:
- No longer rebuilds on moderated comment
- No longer performs database connections related to dynamic templates (to maintain the FileInfo table) if dynamic templates aren't in use
- Default to moderate unregistered comments in schema for new weblogs
We hope that these changes are beneficial for both individual users and web hosts. Results have been incredibly positive from the various hosts and users who have been running the updated release and we're pretty confident that significant loads are reduced.
All of the noise around comment spam reminded us at the office of a joke:
Two backpackers are hiking through a jungle and come upon a tiger. One of the backpackers takes off his backpack to which the other backpacker observes and exclaims "You can't outrun a tiger!" To which his fellow backpacker replies "No, but I can surely outrun you."
That sort of mentality among weblog vendors won't accomplish much in the long run. For that reason, we've already started talking to other weblogging tool vendors who are experiencing these scale of attacks. We've got a common goal, that is platform neutral -- to get spammers out of our space. We're hopeful that we can share enough data about these sort of attacks to solve the problem on a larger level.
Once again, thanks for your patience and please remember that there are a lot of smart people working incredibly hard on finding solutions and alleviate the problems hosts and users are seeing.
One of the most popular blog posting clients on both Windows and Mac is ecto, and Adriaan's just announced a promotion offering a 30% discount off of the regular price for the application. If you've been thinking of giving it a try, this might be a good time to check out ecto.
MSNBC's picked up a San Francisco Business Times piece talking about our growth here at Six Apart, as well as our impending move from San Mateo to San Francisco. One highlight is the retelling of the company's history:
Six Apart, at least, has a head start. Its software magnetized a wildly loyal following even before co-founders and spouses Mena and Ben Trott, both 27, launched the company in 2002. (The high-school sweethearts were born six days apart, hence the name.)
Rochester Institute for Technology has just launched its Lab for Social Computing. The Lab features a number of prominent members of the social software community, including our own Mena Trott and Joi Ito on its Advisory Board, and its new site is powered by Movable Type.
Congratulations to the Lab on its launch, and we expect to see impressive research coming out of the Lab in the future.
The newly-launched Blogs 4 Xmas lets you pick a number of weblog feeds and have their posts delivered via email to your gift recipient. While it sounds a little bit like subscribing a friend to an email list without asking, it might be a good way to introduce blogs to those friends of yours who are interested but don't have the time to check a number of sites on their own.
What's interesting about the story is not just that it highlights the impact that bloggers can have, especially on technology trends, but that each community of the blogosphere has its own alpha bloggers. Whether the focus is technology, politics, hobbies, art, or any other area, there's typically a small number of bloggers who act as influencers, shapers, or hubs of links for each separate sphere.
Choire Sicha, managing editor of the Gawker Media weblogs has posted complete traffic statistics on all of the Gawker sites. It's astonishing to see seven Movable Type-powered weblogs collectively gathering almost thirty million page views per month.
Yesterday's Blogging for Business seminar has been offered as a web archive that lets you replay the presentation as Windows Media or Real Player audio, or a Microsoft Office Live Meeting replay. We covered a wide range of topics, and many of the audience questions address the most popular concerns of people who are advocating weblogs at their own companies.
Darren's begun a discussion over on his ProBlogger site about who should be named Pro Blogger of the Year. More interesting than the nominees would be a discussion of what makes a good Pro Blogger. Any ideas?
Given the recent rash of comment spam attacks that are causing significant increases in server load and affecting a wide variety of Movable Type installations, we've republished the following Knowledge Base article on the Professional Network site. Movable Type Knowledge Base articles are typically available to users with paid licenses who have logged in to the "Your Account" link on the Movable Type website, but the following article is available free of charge and does not require a login to view.
Professional Network members have access to the full Movable Type knowledge base as part of the members' license for Movable Type.
Update: We've identified a few of the issues that are causing the extreme server loads. Jay Allen has posted a full description on the Movable Type site.
We're in the process of identifying all the separate issues involved, coming up with some concise and effective recommendations, and then outlining our plan going forward. We're also going to be reaching out to the weblog community as a whole with information we've learned from both our experience with Movable Type and our background in running the TypePad service. There are a variety of ways to deal with spam, ranging from technical to legal to social methods, and we'll discuss them all.
The Movable Type-specific recommendations will appear on the Movable Type homepage, and our advice for the technically-inclined, or those who host web servers that run Movable Type will appear on the Professional Network weblog.
We do recognize this is an area it's important for us to communicate about, and we've been taking our time to make sure we have all the necessary facts and information before we respond to all the issues that have been raised. We'll have more details today, and a full overview within 48 hours.
Additionally, Mena will be creating a Mena's Corner post about the issue as a whole and I'll link to that when it's up.
Food bloggers are one of the fastest-growing and most popular communities in the blogosphere, and this month's issue of Bon Appetit has acknowledged a few of the most popular, as documented at Vinography. Among those mentioned are Saute Wednesday, SliceNY, all Movable Type-powered sites, and The Food Section, which is powered by TypePad. In addition to great sites like Chez Pim, Movable Feast, A Full Belly and Chocolate & Zucchini, they're making the weblog world a little bit tastier.
From a marketing perspective, blogs make perfect sense. They are cheap to produce, immersive and interactive. It's easy to measure their readership and response rates. For small companies, blogs are a quick and dirty promotional tool that cuts out the middleman; for big companies, blogs are a tool of humanization -- an informal, chatty, down-to-earth voice amid the din of bland corporate-speak.
The New York Times covers the increasing trend of great writers who have blogs being signed to book contracts, with a notable mention of Kate Lee of ICM:
All this has begun to stimulate even more interest among editors and agents. For instance, Kate Lee, an assistant at International Creative Management talent agency in New York, has become a kind of one-woman blog boutique, surfing for the best writers online and suggesting they work with her to develop and sell a book.
"Initially, I was just e-mailing," she said, "and I'd get an e-mail from people saying 'so-and-so said I should contact you,' and I became friendly with this circle of blogger pundits."
The folks over at FeedBurner have just announced a couple of new features as well as their look at where the syndication area is headed. The FeedCount option letting you display your feed's readership on your site is one of the coolest new bits.
ClickZ's Pete Blackshaw also has a list of Buzz-Informed Predictions for 2005, which is well worth reading for its salient points: "Big brands and their sites will find the 'add water and stir' nature of blog publishing tools irresistible."
Michael Gartenberg's got his list of predictions for 2005 in ComputerWorld. Some blog-related highlights:
3. More people will lose their jobs over their weblogs. It's happened already, and it will happen again. If you're posting about your job or employer without consent, you're taking a lot of risk with your future.
4. But more corporations will create official blogs. Corporations have seen the weblog light, and blogs will become common for business use. Unfortunately, far too many of these efforts will just be marketing fluff disguised as weblogs.
This Thursday, we'll be participating in a free online seminar on business blogging: You can register for the seminar online and join us on December 16th at 2pm Eastern Time (11am Pacific). Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners will also be joining in.
Topics we expect to cover include marketing content vs. editorial content, how weblogs compare to other CMS systems, chat rooms, and discussion boards, the personal/professional balance, and syndication. If you're already familiar with blogs, but want to get your co-workers, clients, or peers up to date on the medium, this might be a good place to start.
Arvind of Movalog has just launched Planet Movable Type, a cool new aggregator that grabs a lot of our Six Apart company sites as well as feeds from members of our community and displays them all on one site. It's a great resource if you want to track a lot of the activity around Movable Type in one place.
HeyPix has just launched their namesake photo sharing and management application as a beta. HeyPix supports posting to TypePad and Movable Type. They've got a free photo sharing service as well as two paid tiers with additional features.
A good thread on Ask MetaFilter about making sites that don't look like blogs, but are built with weblog tools. A good number of Movable Type-powered sites are mentioned, along with smart resources for doing the same yourself.
Good news for those of you using TypeKey on sites that aren't in English: The authentication service is now available in Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch and German. Of course, you can still get the delicious original English flavor as well.
If you're still trying to learn how to use TypeKey on your sites or in your applications, be sure to check out Everything TypeKey, where the TypeKey community has collected a wide variety of sample code, client libraries, and tips and tricks.
Ranchero Software, developers of popular Mac apps like NetNewsWire, has just launched their new weblog editing application, MarsEdit. MarsEdit supports image and file uploading, is scriptable with AppleScript, and works with both Movable Type and TypePad.
This evening, TiE's Internet Special Interest Group held its group meeting with contributions from Stewart Butterfield, Reid Hoffman, Joe Kraus, and Six Apart was represented Andrew Anker.
A wide variety of topics around social software technology and business models were discussed, and our own Ian Kennedy blogged the event in detail. It's a good record of the thinking of some highly creative leaders in social software.
Moreover has just announced their own ping server which you can configure your Movable Type weblog to notify when you update your blog.
Though there are lots of ping servers out there, this one might be of particular interest to business bloggers as Moreover's sources are used to feed services such as MSN Newsbot and are primarily targeted at business users, which is an ideal audience for a professional weblog.
Revisit some attributes you thought you already knew everything about: The alt and title attributes, over on 456 Berea Street, where Roger Johansson explains how you should and shouldn't make use of these old standbys in your markup.
Working with Movable Type or TypePad templates? Have we got the goods for you. Two good reference sites if you're looking for designs are the new Blog Fashions site and the classic Movable Style site. As always, the good news with these templates is that the default stylesheets for TypePad and Movable Type are compatible, as are almost all of the template tags that both systems use.
Not sure what each template in your Movable Type blog does? Elise has a tutorial appropriately entitled "What Do All These Templates Do?" that you'll want to check out.
If you just need to get a copy of the default templates to figure out where to start from, we've (finally!) updated the default template page to include all the files that are generated in a stock Movable Type 3.1 install.
By default, we don't mess with your templates or weblog configuration when you upgrade Movable Type, so you might be missing some of the cleanup and improvements that the new templates feature if you are still working with your templates from an older version.
Dan's got some creative ideas on making better use of the "Welcome Message" space that greets users when they log in to the Movable Type interface. It's a great way to take advantage of this underutilized feature of Movable Type.
Speaking of the tech enthusiast, many people are getting into blogging. Blog just entered the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year. Read my Net Stocks column. Your daughter, son, niece or nephew may want their own blog. Typepad.com is offering a special deal to Typepad subscribers. The blog hoster, which hosts my blog at www.bambi.blogs.com, is offering a two-for-one-blog special!
It's not a bad gift idea. Journals are popular gift items. Just think of this item as a hipper, cooler, more advanced journal. They may not only appreciate it, they'll think you're not so behind-the-times if you know what a blog is.
Jason Kottke's started a compelling dialogue between aggregator client developers, users, and advertisers about the future of advertisements in XML syndication feeds, and whether developers will allow users to block the ads. Many business model assumptions for publishers and bloggers are based on being able to easily distribute ads in feeds, so it's a conversation well worth following.
Chad Everett is interested in buildingMT-Notifier Comment Integration on top of his award-winning MT-Notifier plugin. If you would find this kind of functionality helpful, go chip in to his Dropcash campaign.
Adriaan, creator of ecto, has some great thoughts on the state of weblog APIs. We've been putting a lot of thought into the APIs of our tools, and a lot of care into making them as consistent as possible between TypePad and Movable Type, so we appreciate this kind of feedback to help shape our future directions.
As they did last year, the folks at the Wizbang blog have launched the 2004 Weblog Awards. The site's powered by Movable Type, and the awards give a good glimpse at a particular community's choices for the best of the blogosphere. Go take a look and vote for your favorite sites.
Adriaan Tijsseling's released two new bits of code that he's been working on. The first displays a list of recently-played songs from the last.fm service, which is handy for putting your music list on your site, and the second is a revamped version of the MTTechnorati plugin, which pulls information from the Technorati service and lets you display it within your blog.
Newsday's Patricia Kitchen has a column on how to improve your career through blogging. Patricia asked for some advice from our own Mena Trott:
If you feel as though you must write about how you hate your job and don't do any work all day, look into features that can keep your laments private. You can set up passwords for your blog so that only a small number of close and hopefully trusted friends can read and comment.
Another "Business of Blogging" story, this time from BusinessWeek. The closer:
Clearly, the business of blogs is in its infancy, with lots to be worked out. But that's not stopping marketers, entrepreneurs, and writers alike from diving into this newest form of New Media.
The Wall Street Journal has covered the increasing trend of companies using the information in blogs to gauge customer response and consumer feedback on their products and services. There's also mention of the increasing number of market research companies that are offering pre-packaged market intelligence based on their records of the conversation in the blogosphere.
The National Weather Service has just made their National Digital Forecast Database available as a web service. This should simplify integrating weather and condition information into a wide range of web apps.
We know you already love blogs, and now you can share the love: TypePad gift accounts are now available. If you're already a subscriber, renew for a year and get a free account to give to a friend. We've also got our best discounts ever on an annual subscription to TypePad. Check out Everything TypePad for full details.
Randy's updated SharpMT and Pocket SharpMT, two great posting clients, with extended support for TypePad and Movable Type 3.0. They're still beta releases, but you'll want to check in if you use SharpMT to post.
Richard D. LeCour's got a little update to his smart MTKeywords plugin, which auto-generates keywords for posts in your Movable Type weblog. Handy for generating keyword meta tags and for populating your keywords field.
Users of the NewsGator aggregator will want to check out the new Movable Type and TypePad posting plugins which let you update your blog right from within NewsGator. Nice and easy.
mediabistro's Greg Lindsay takes a fanciful look into the future with his assessment of how the future of media consolidation and the rise of independent media will change the media space in the future. Naturally, we're partial to this passage:
Movable Type quickly replaced more primitive publishing tools (Blogger, which gave its name to early publishing efforts called "blogs," is only a footnote now) and become the forerunner of today's vast neural networks ("Neunets") that supply the raw media materials for GNN and its competitors.
A couple of good REST-oriented articles just popped up on XML.com. The first is Mike Dierken's look at publish-subscribe services and how they handle web collections such as the blogosphere. The other is Joe Gregorio's How to Create a REST Protocol.
It seems most developers working on blog platforms, and most hackers who prefer to work by connecting simple scripts, are choosing REST as their interface of choice, and given that preference, these two articles seem good to keep on handy.
Eugene Volokh has a compelling editorial in today's New York Times about bloggers and journalistic privilege, where he raises the issue of whether bloggers should have the privilege of protecting their sources in the same way that traditional journalists do. It's well worth a read, particularly in light of the chilling effect that the legal environment can have on bloggers.
Okay, the title "Chief Blogging Officer" is ridiculous, but at least it's intentionally ridiculous. Chris Locke, of Cluetrain fame, has started a blog with the unlikely title to promote HighBeam Research's collection of research tools for individuals. Designed to be perfect fodder for bloggers, it looks like an interesting resource.