Jay Cross
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Monday, July 05, 2004

For the last three years, I've recommended Moveable Type to anyone interested in doing some serious blogging.

MT has a great set of features. It's a chameleon; you can make a blog look any way you want. It's a content management system; entries are stored in an SQL database. It's supported by a developer community; volunteers are forever adding extensions called "plug-ins" that add new functionality.

However, MT is not an option for novices. Most tweaks to MT require messing about with oddball tags and scripts. The standard input screen in ugly. Plan on using FTP and changing file permissions to get things rolling. To take advantage of MT, you need to get your head around what this bucket of PERL scripts is trying to accomplish. It's geeky. Their new version, Moveable Type 3.0, doesn't signal much of a change in direction.

One other thing: There's no easy way to manage Spam in MT's Comments fields. The old Internet Time Blog has been trashed with hundreds of messages referring readers to Paris Hilton videos and worse. Registering to make comments isn't the answer -- that will simply drive away people who just want to leave a thought and be done with it. This Comment Spam issue is what drove me back to Blogger. I'm a happy guy, but it gnaws away at my spirit to open the morning's emails, only to find dozens of truly degrading slime posted to my blogs.

Moveable Type also offers TypePad, a hosted version of their software. You pay a fee to use it. I couldn't make it perform the way I wanted. Besides, why should I pay a fee when Blogger remains free?

We Americnans tend to distrust large organizations and root for the underdog. Microsoft. The Internal Revenue Service. Cable television monopolies. Great Britain under George III.

Google is an exception. Everybody loves Google. Compare the Google interface to, say, Yahoo! Google is simple, elegant, inviting, and to the point. On holidays, Google makes you smile. Yahoo!, by contrast, looks like an old circus sideshow poster as rendered by hopped up Las Vegas dip artists.

Google now owns Blogger but they've been wise enough not to kill the spirit of founder Ev Williams. Blogger is free. Blogger is attractive. Blogger is adding cool new features like audioblogging and blog-by-mail. And Blogger is committed to appealing to the broad non-geek audience.

Of course, my motivation is not that simple. I want to see if I can create an exemplary blog with Blogger. Then I'll start recommending it. I'll track my transition to Blogger here, leaving breadcrumbs for other folks who want to switch blogging platforms.

The old joke says that "God was able to create the world in seven days because he didn't have to deal with an installated base." Among the things I'll be trying to figure out is what to do with my MT content (Blogger doesn't have an import feature) and how to switch my change notification system over.

Several emails arrived this morning from readers. Several complained about the legibility of the white-type-on-black-background. On my monitor, a ViewSonic 19" panel, it looks great, but I bow to the audience. I just changed the colors. (Aren't Cascading Styles wonderful?)

What do you think? What else should I do to make things better?


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