Well… here it is. My blog gets a new look, and more important than that, it gets a brand new engine running in the background.
Two years ago, when I started writing these articles, I had to pick a weblogging engine. I’ve evaluated a few, and almost all were very limited, primitive, and rather inflexible — you just got simple things like a place to type your article, save it, and that was it. With a bit of luck, comments would even work 🙂
Later on, weblogging software slowly catched up with new things like RSS feeds and nifty features like auto-classifying posts by month in an archive. Or people logging in to add comments. Still, when it came to making an option — I chose an old content management system with which I was quite familiar with, and tweaked it to “look” like a blog.
The advantage of a professional web content management system is the ability to add to it as you wish; as well as exactly implementing whatever layout you want (not being a web designer, I used some freely available templates instead 🙂 ). Weblogging software came with the same set of 4-5 templates, and with luck, you could change a few colours. Or add perhaps a title with two lines. And not much more. If a community supported the software, you might get one or two sites offering new templates, and a 80-page manual on how to do your own templates… and you could forget anything that needed extra coding, like tying into things like Google AdSense, having a search engine, or — like I have done — show your online status in Second Life 🙂
Well, times have changed.
It’s 2006, and now weblogging software has definitely leaped ahead. Now we get all the sort of niftynesses that people expect on modern software: support for all sorts of protocols — RSS, ATOM, RDF, you name it. Integration with Technorati, de.licio.us, and Blogshares. Get ads from Google AdSense, integrate with Google’s search engine, use Google Analytics to streamline your software. Manage trackback links, and have permalinks. Support comments where people can either create their own profiles or integrate with their profiles from other sources (like OpenID).
Backoffices of blogging software should still be easy: place title here, write text here, save and post. But it should also give you lots of flexibility: classify articles, add tags, create multiple pages, have restricted articles for logged-in users. Add all sorts of plug-ins for the latest and greatest in technological advances. And, most importantly, create your own templates with total freedom, modify existing ones to your taste, embed PHP inside the whole blog structure — in short, give all sorts of freedom in changing everything according to your personal taste, as opposed to what the weblog programmer thinks it’s a good idea.
While still keeping it simple.
Well, I must admit I’m “sold” on this new generation of blogging software. For practical reasons, I’m currently using WordPress — not because it’s “better” or “faster” or “easier to install”, but for one very good reason: it’s the one Linden Lab uses for their own blogs, and integrating between blogs using the same technology is easier. It’s also free, open-source, and has a rather large community supporting it — how strange, considering that two years ago, WordPress was a “minor player” in a world dominated by Google’s Blogger and Moving Type 🙂
For the ones finally having a working comments-based system, there will be simple rules that I will enforce. No spamming, no ad hominem attacks, no hate speech. Keep it to the point, do your criticisim with cleverness in an effective way, but keep it polite. Also, you’ll need to be logged in to comment, or have an OpenID somewhere (more on that in a future post). And remember, if you think I’m too strict on the rules, you have an easy option: just create your own blog to protest 🙂
I hope you enjoy this new phase of the blog. One thing that will happen is open collaboration with some very welcome co-bloggers, like Extropia DaSilva, who has written so insightful essays in the past. I’ll look forward to have more people collaborating actively. No, this is not going to become the Academic Transactions of the Sociology Society of Second Life 🙂 and has not even the pretension to become something even remotely like that. It’s just that a blog can have multiple purposes; this one will focus on the First Steps of the emerging Metaverse society — its pitfalls, its stumbling blocks, the lessons learned. Hopefully, we’ll be able to come back in ten years and and laugh a lot about how naive we were 🙂