Personal Publishing

Blogger & Pyra redux…

Keen-eyed new media news spotters will have seen the article this morning, Google takes the plunge (by Bobbie Johnson) about the search engine company buying Blogger. Bobbie got some comments off me, a couple of which made it into the piece. Here are the rest of my comments, should you be interested:

(1) What do you think has made Blogger so successful: why did you choose to use it?

Blogger was a sideline for Pyra originally – they made it for themselves to play with and I think that shows in the first product. It was really basic but it was extremely easy to use, incredibly practical and – most importantly – it allowed you to publish your weblog through to your own personal web-space on the web, wherever that might be. There were web professionals who had written their own little content management systems, of course. And there were these centralised journalling and weblogging sites for people who just wanted to write stuff, but there was nothing that really catered for that sudden influx of new web-obsessed netizens, eager to find things online, keen to build things and desperate to play with the new medium. Plus this was the time that everyone was starting to buy domain names that they didn’t have anything to do with.

(2) How do you think it contributed to the growth of weblogging in general?

Of course it’s impossible to say in retrospect, but I think it was Blogger’s feature set, simplicity and general amenability (combined with the spirit of the time) that really got people playing with these tools in the first place. I’m not sure it would ever have sparked off to the degree that it has without their involvement. It’s no accident that Blogger is still the largest weblogging concern running – even though it doesn’t have anywhere near the features of many other systems it’s still one of the most self-explanatory, simple and bluntly effective tools out there. Without it I would be surprised if the community would have developed to be even a tenth of the size…

(3) Do you think there are any surprises in store for Blogger users?

Terrifyingly, I don’t think there will be any surprises at all. And that’s not because they won’t do anything, but because thousands of webloggers all started talking about the stuff they could do at once – sorting wheat from chaff, thinking up applications, new toys, horror stories, business plans – basically just fun things to do with weblogs and Google working together. I’d be surprised if there were any thoughts about the future of Blogger that hadn’t travelled several times around the hundreds of thousands of weblogs that are out there. But that’s ok! Because some of those ideas were pretty damn cool…