The Future of the Blog

It’s hard to imagine the world without blogs. The publishing technology has become a cultural and political force. One of the reasons for the rapid growth of the blogosphere is the existence of user-friendly blogging software such as Moveable Type. The program was designed with simplicity in mind by Mena Trott, a former graphic designer and early blogger (she launched dollarshort.org in early 2001), and her husband, Ben Trott, a programmer.

Mena and Ben went on to found Six Apart, the San Francisco-based company behind the blog-hosting service TypePad. In January, 2005, Six Apart acquired LiveJournal, an online community of personal blogs that today boasts 9.6 million accounts and more than 16,000 new posts per hour. In December, 2005, Six Apart and Yahoo! (YHOO) announced a partnership to build Yahoo-hosted blogs with Moveable Type.

Six Apart is currently working on a new product, codenamed Comet, that will start beta testing this quarter. «It’s meant for the next generation of blogs,» says Mena Trott, without revealing details. Just before setting off for Monterey, Calif., to speak at the annual TED conference — that’s technology, education, and design — Trott spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Reena Jana about challenges in blog design — which, she hints, Comet will attempt to address. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation:

What do you see as the next big issue in blog design?
We’ll focus on the idea of more select and filtered readership, and how to allow people to read certain posts. That to me is interesting: how different people want different views of the blog. A big issue right now is how to take that idea in account when designing blogs.

Another new challenge is the trend toward adding a lot of assets. People are adding photos, video, and music to supplement the text. How do you make it possible for bloggers to present as much as they want to present without creating blogs that are too cluttered or confusing?

Do you think that blogging will supplant mainstream news Web sites and other established media?
There will be similarities. But blogging and traditional journalism play by different rules and will remain distinct. They’re meant to complement each other, play off of each other in terms of the readers’ attention.

What do I read when I wake up? I go to news sites. But I’m more excited right now about personal users. The 10 blogs I really care about are written by my friends. I’m interested in the community of…

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