Thursday, June 16, 2005


Mossberg and The Mystery of Blog Creation

Blogging remains the fastest way to generate a web site for addressing community problem solving. In comparing the top three free blog creation services, Walter Mossberg's excellent Wall Street Journal column on blog creation (2005, June 15, D4) found that's approach to photos was a hassle. There are points to quibble with in his review.

Mr. Mossberg was most kind to respond quickly to my email which complained that he had his facts wrong in noting that one cannot quickly and easily add narration to a photo in Blogger. I retract the "facts wrong" thought and leave his paragraph as misleading. He intended his critique to knock Hello which works with Picasa to upload selected and edited images. He wanted to be able to add the narration or description to the photo while in Hello during the upload process. I prefer the editing to be done back in the back in the blog. Why add the duplication of editing in Hello when it is already quite adequate in the blog editor?

He wants the Blogger approach seen as cumbersome and slow, a view that I find too narrow in just weighing upload time. There is a larger "environmental impact" in working with images and ignoring it misleads readers. This line of thought will require another post.

What he concluded was a problem of's design for uploading photos using the Picasa photo editor, I find a powerful free application well worth the effort to learn. He found it a hassle to download and install this free program. There is a larger view that he did not address by focusing on just the quickness of getting an image in a blog posting. The fact is that anyone who uploads images will need to work with an image editor to crop or touch up the photo. Once installed, users will find it is a jewel of an editor, and an image collection organizer that photographers should not be without. Picasa adds to efficiency and simplicity in managing collections of images in addition to making image posting quick and easy. Yes, it involves more steps than MSN Spaces, but then it is a more comprehensive approach to the larger set of problems in working with images, a process that everyone must deal with in one fashion or another using some additional application.

His comments failed to discuss audio uploading and podcasting for beginners, which Blogger provides for free and in a design of great simplicity. Image posting is an important feature, but as much attention as image and text posting has been getting, podcasting is even hotter. Blogger's telephone call in feature which automatically converts your "voice mail" to an mp3 file and makes a clickable linked icon automatically deserves widespread attention. MSN Spaces and Yahhoo 360 have yet to even get started on adding audio posting services. I've enjoyed the ease in with which I can copy and paste image, audio and text into one posting to provide a real multimedia experience that still makes for quick display times. See other postings in this blog for such multimedia examples.

That said, Mossberg's review of the big three blog services highlights important features and conclusions for those getting started with blogging. I thought his best hit was the current lack of privacy controls in Blogger which both MSN Spaces and Yahoo 360 provide. Privacy controls are an important option. His analysis ranked MSN Spaces first, Yahoo 360 (not yet publicly available) second and in third. Stay tuned as the feature set of all three of these services is bound to change for the better in the months ahead.
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