Ask MetaFilter is a great question-and-answer site, and recently a member of the site posed a fairly common inquiry:
My wife and I are expecting our first child soon, and I've been looking for a site that would allow us to post photographs, videoclips, maybe a journal/blog, etc., and then allow family members/friends to log-in and view them. Has anyone used such a site they'd recommend strongly?
... Ideally, I'd like to find a site that focuses on simplicity - just the few functions I really need - and an elegant, minimalist design, and usable enough that even my grandparents could find their way thru it.
To our delight, the Vox community was there to tell the story of the site. and the recommendations were almost universal: This is a perfect way to use Vox. (We're also happy that LiveJournal got some mentions to -- there are tons of parents happily sharing their stories on LiveJournal.)
But regardless of which tool people use, we're just happy to see so much respect and attention paid to the idea of blogging privately to one's friends and family. It's not the most obvious thing in the world, if all you've heard about is big name bloggers writing for thousands of readers.
Private family blogging seems to be catching on, though -- as the Team Vox blog has been documenting, we've seen stories about this kind of community in publications ranging from the New York Times (which we mentioned before) to a story in Wired today. Who knows, maybe with enough publicity for the idea, someday everybody will know that there's an easy way to share those oh-so-cute baby pictures without having to worry about the whole web seeing them.
If you’re a member of the Six Apart Professional Network, or just someone who’s interested in the work we’re doing to help support our community of developers, designers, consultants, and experts, you might be interested in the latest way we’ve been connecting with our community.
Every other week, we hold a group conference call that’s an open conversation with our team, as well as with some of the most talented and successful members of our Professional Network community. You get direct access to the teams that build platforms like Movable Type and Movable Type Enterprise, and to previews of the resources and roadmap we’ll be offering in the future. In exchange, you get the ability to bend our ear and tell us what you’d really like to see in our products or for the community, or what your clients are demanding.
We’ve done a number of these calls, and will be continuing to do them regularly, but as this week’s is about to start, we wanted to let the larger community know about this new way to reach out, and we’ll be offering more information in advance of our next call.
The call today begins at 10am PST/1pm EST, and you can dial in to +1 712-432-3000 or +1 218-486-1300 with Bridge Number: 353177. Sorry, we don’t yet have international call-in numbers, but are working on them in the future. The calls are recorded and posted as MP3s within a few days after they take place.
This week’s agenda:
- Review the New Plugin Directory
- Review the New ProNet Member Directory
- Discuss the upcoming NYC event
- Discuss the “Opening up ProNet” thread
Hope to have you join us today and in the future!
It seems like the message is getting out: Lots of people blog just to talk to their friends and family, not to broadcast to the whole world. The latest evidence? So, Who Says That a Blog Has to Blare? in which Anne Eisenberg of the New York Times talks about Vox's privacy features, and praises the idea that a private blog can be a great way to connect with the people you care about:
Once my Web pages were in place, I set the privacy levels for everything on them — for example, by clicking on a pull-down menu next to an entry and designating the audience. The choices ranged from “anyone” and “friends and family” to “just myself.”
Afterward, when I logged onto my blog, I saw all the entries, but others saw only the sections they were cleared to view. The only mandatory part of the blog displayed in the public profile is the user name, which does not have to be the same as a person’s actual name.
Pretty cool! The examples in the story get to the heart of what Ms. Eisenberg calls "enjoying the pleasures of blogging without worrying about the costs of personal exposure".
Of course, we've got firsthand examples from within our community as well. Shiny Shiny, the popular TypePad-powered "girl's guide to gadgets", asked Cate Sevilla to talk about protecting one's privacy while blogging.
In short, it's pretty hard to be totally anonymous, since people can usually sniff out information about you. But it is pretty easy to limit the privacy on your blog to only allow people you trust to read it.
I understand why people try to keep their personal blog private, especially if your family, work, or partner won't be too happy about what you're writing. However, we can't forget that it comes down to personal responsibility. When you make the choice to write about your personal life on the Internet, it must be kept in mind that whoever or whatever you're writing about, has the potential to be read by anyone, if you're not careful. (Have we learned nothing from Dooce?) Privacy when blogging isn't an easy task, however, it is possible.
Cate has some very kind words for Vox's privacy features as well; It's only fitting --you might remember Cate because her love of Vox helped her and her friend Kristen win a trip around the world. We're sure there will be plenty of friends-only pictures from the trip.
With a monstrous storm bearing down on New York City, the winter doldrums are setting in. Thankfully, Apperceptive helped Rodale and Saturn launch FindYourDetour.com, a Typepad Business Class site built to inspire your inner athlete.
Find Your Detour takes you inside the mind of four athletes who are experts in skiing, snowboarding, kickboxing and yoga. Each expert keeps a blog with tips and inspirational stories, designed to help you beat the cold and stay active.
Have you heard about OpenID? The simple idea that your web address is one form of identity, just like your email adddress or even your physical address? Well, back in December, we mentioned how OpenID has been gaining momentum like crazy, but today, things just went to a whole new level.You see, OpenID was originally created by Brad Fitzpatrick, who created LiveJournal (along with a ton of other open source platform software) and is one of the chief geeks here at Six Apart. Yesterday was Brad’s birthday, but today is when he really gets the best present: Microsoft is supporting OpenID. Brad posted a bit about the news in his journal.
Now, since we’re a company that releases tons of open source code and lives in the Web 2.0 world, we were a little skeptical, just like you might be. But the most reassuring sign of Microsoft’s endorsement is that they’re integrating OpenID with their CardSpace initiative. As Johannes Ernst, one of the leading advocates of OpenID said, it’s a little bit like OpenID and CardSpace got married.
And just as important was the way that Microsoft told the story. Though there’s a traditional press release as part of Microsoft’s presence in the RSA Conference, it’s reassuring to see Bill Gates himself speaking at length and in detail about OpenID in a way that shows he truly understands the technology.
So what does this mean for a non-geek? As of today, your web adddress, like the URL for your Vox blog or your LiveJournal, is a form of identity. There are a number of websites which already support this. But Microsoft is investing an enormous amount of resources in helping to create a new Internet identity infrastructure around CardSpace. There’s been worry that the CardSpace intiative wouldn’t be open enough, wouldn’t support existing efforts by Web 2.0 companies, or wouldn’t take advantage of the success that lightweight identity efforts have had.
As of today, we’ve got some reason to hope that all the pieces of the identity puzzle are going to play nicely together. (Happy Birthday, Brad!)
Around the web
There’s been an enormous amount of attention paid to this announcement, which we’re delighted to see. Some highlights:
- Kim Cameron, Identity Architect at Microsoft, weighs in with a number of ringing endorsements.
- Johannes Ernst has a number of outstanding background informational posts about today’s announcements, as well as the OpenID effort overall
- A news announcement at Sxip, whose Dick Hardt has been talking passionately about online identity for years.
- Scott Kveton, CEO of JanRain shares the announcement, capping off the excellent work that JanRain has been doing in encouraging adoption and development around OpenID.
- Verisign picks up the announcement as well, and their David Recordon highlights one of the cool little victories of the day — OpenID on the homepage of Google News.
It’s clearly time for you to get started with OpenID. Doing so is easy.
- Sign up for Vox or Sign up for LiveJournal and get a free blog that can work as your OpenID address.
- If you’re a developer, take a look at the OpenID homepage and OpenID Enabled for resources on adding OpenID support to your applications.
- Check out some of the press coverage that’s already starting to come in, like Dan Farber’s piece at ZDNet, Brady Forrest’s overview on O’Reilly Radar, Ryan Singel’s post on Wired, and Michael Singer’s article in InformationWeek.
(Thanks to Ryan Singel for the photo.)
Though PC Magazine first reviewed Vox back in October, just after it launched, we're thrilled that the widely-respected magazine has named Vox its Editor's Choice for blogging tools.
And the praise for Vox started even before Vox let you create your own Groups, or sported custom banners, or added any of the dozens of unique new themes that make your blog really sing. Even at that early stage, the praise was effusive: "So, come one, come all. VOX takes blogging to a new level."
We're proud of the recognition for Vox not because we created the service, but because it's a recognition of how special the Vox community is.
And the good news is that standing right behind Vox in PC Magazine's estimation is its older sibling LiveJournal. The review of LiveJournal captures some of its personality as well: "There's a lot to take in, plenty of features that appear worth checking out, and a picture of a goat." It's always good to see Frank get some press.
Technology for Business Sake, a small business radio show based out of Atlanta, but broadcast worldwide through its podcast, took some time to talk about business blogging this weekend. As Brent Leary and Michael Thomas, the co-hosts, describe the show, "this show is not for the IT guys, it's for those looking at technology as a way to find, catch and keep good customers."
So it was a perfect venue for a conversation about business blogging. You can check out the show on their site, or on its Odeo page for some good preliminary information about getting started with a blog is a great way to start your own small business website.
One of the greatest strengths of Movable Type is its extensibility. It has an extensive plugin directory with hundreds of plugins that are in use by thousands and thousands of people. But which ones get installed and then used?
We are interested in the answer not just because we want to know what plugins are popular, but because as we begin planning the next major release of Movable Type, code named Athena, we believe the answer to this question provides incredible insight into how we can best improve the core product. If a plugin is so widely used by the community, and so many people recommend installing it, then why not just bundle it with the core platform?
To help us better understand what plugins are in wide use by our developer and user communities, we devised a quick and simple survey to help answer that question. In that survey we asked three simple questions:
- What plugins do you have installed?
- What plugins do you think should be folded into the core to Movable Type?
- If you were only allowed to install one plugin, which one would it be?
The results were both interesting and surprising...
Sure it seems like a pretty ambitious goal to set — trying to change someone’s life. Especially through technology, let alone across the web. But when we set out to make Vox, we wanted to make it a place where connections could form, where something special could happen. With the announcement of today’s winner of the Vox World Tour, it seems like, once again, our community has shown us just how amazing it can be to make connections through blogging.
First, some background: To celebrate the official launch of the service in October, we wanted to do something really special. Since Vox is better with friends and family in it, we decided to host a “Vox World Tour” contest to not only reward members who loved the service, but to also reward members who loved inviting other people to the party. Hundreds of Voxers entered the contest, each writing an essay about how Vox has enriched their life. We chose one winner of the essay contest and, here’s the cool part, we’re giving a trip the world to both the essay writer and the Voxer who invited them.
Kristen, our first winner of the trip around the world, told her story in a way that’s profound and universal. Who hasn’t wanted to travel the world and explore the art and culture of people whom you’ve never met? But the most striking part of her winning essay was at the end:
Vox has not only brought me wonderful friendships and higher self-esteem, the confidence to express myself in words, Vox has brought me closer to my father. If I won, I would take my father. He’s always looked out for me and loved me, even now when I am 1,000 miles away in another state, living my own life. He’s never taken a trip in his life, always working hard instead to provide for those he loves. He’s had dreams of traveling but he’s never been able to because he’s had to sacrifice instead for me. I would take my father, yes, without a doubt. He and I would travel the world and be close, as father and daughter. It would be a dream come true.
That’s a beautiful testament that Vox isn’t about Web 2.0 gadgetry and gee-whiz features, it’s about really helping all of us connect and share with the people we love and care about. And that brings us to our second winner, Cate. Her CupCate blog is one of the most popular on Vox, a home for smart and irreverent — the tags on her Vox say it all, ranging from “bliss” to “stupid people” to “vodka”.
While Cate probably wasn’t thinking “Oh, let me see if I can use Vox to change Kristen’s life”, she did invite her to join her Vox neighborhood just to keep in touch. And those small, thoughtful acts can lead to some profound and beautiful results that none of us could ever predict. So Cate gets to go on a World Tour, too.
Now you’ll want to follow their adventures, and recommend what they should do in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Paris, by joining the Vox World Tour group. (If you’re not already on Vox, joining has been clocked at under a minute.) We’re ecstatic to see that Vox has become a place where people are making meaningful connections, and we hope you’ll join the whole community in wishing them well on their trip, and in perhaps sharing some stories of your own.
Of course, the first step in the adventure is the winners finding out that they’re going. We
invite insist you visit the Team Vox post where Mena informs Kristen that she’s going to be taking a little trip…