Friday, September 24, 2004

Distributed blogging

I find it interesting that you barely need a computer to blog. Having been working in web design & development since the web existed, I'm used to the arrangement whereby you have webspace on a server, and everything is centralized on that server: all your content, your stats, your mail. For this blogging experiment, on the other hand, I've got webspace at, my stats are handled by Reinvigorate, my pictures are handled by Photobucket, my mail lives at Yahoo, and I bookmark notes about it all at Furl. And so far, it's all free - and, importantly, ad-free, except for the little Blogger navbar and icon that I'm perfectly willing to grant them.

It gave me a strange nomadic feeling at first - like I'm homeless if all my content isn't cozily bundled together in one place - but it's growing on me; I like the interconnectedness of it, as if I'm part of something. So far you'd never know I'm part of something because I haven't received any comments and my traffic is probably next to nil, but all things in time. I'm trying genuinely to start from scratch here. I could leverage my existing sites and connections by linking them to this blog, but maybe not for a month or two yet; I want to see how this thing grows organically.

Let's talk about wikis for a minute. I quite like them. For the uninitiated, a wiki is a collaborative system for document building of pretty much any kind. It's anarchic - anyone can edit anything in the document. We use it at work for taking notes on various projects, and it's especially important in cases where other people might have to come in to the project partway through and need to get caught up. (I guess what I'm describing is a rudimentary knowledgebase.) I use one at home as well, but it's sort of futile, since I'm the only one editing anything and I haven't convinced anyone else that they have a need to share in it. But damn it, I just want to wiki.

I think part of what makes wikis successful is their pure & utter simplicity. In order to add information, you don't have to log in to a proprietary system with special software, check out the file, mark your changes in red, cross things out, etc etc. You just hit the page and go. No muss, no fuss. Well, you do need to learn a few markup codes, but really they're right there on the page with you so there's nothing to memorize. And we do actually have our system password-protected to discourage the occasional wandering vandal, but that's not unreasonable. Wikis are very malleable to whatever your purpose may be.


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