AOL blogs, redux

AOL blogs, redux
: Mena, who knows weblogs like nobody knows weblogs, visits AOL and gets the preview of their weblogs:

The fact of the matter is that fundamentally, they hit the core weblogging elements on the mark. What they are doing — whether called journals or weblogs — is in fact weblogging. The elements are there, the output is familiar and the user behavior resembles all that us “real webloggers” would recognize. This isn’t just some message board with a blogging label slapped on — the AOL Journals team is taking the time and effort to get this right and that’s highly commendable. Within a company the size of AOL, this is an amazing feat.

While this sort of praise could be read as a “they didn’t crap up their product like we expected and that’s good,” I’m sincere in saying that they have a good product on their hands. As a weblog tool maker, am I threatened by AOL Journals? I don’t think so. We’re marketing our tools to entirely different audiences and our users require the level of functionality and customization that would be overkill 1000 times over for AOL. Having tens of millions of AOL users exposed to weblogging can only be a good thing for Six Apart and since we knew that a weblog offering from AOL was coming, we have gotten used to the idea that we’ll be sharing the space with a number of the world’s largest companies.

She ends with spot-on wisdom for the big company:

My advice to AOL: Keep on embracing what already exists in the weblogging space but be sure to integrate the key features that make AOL distinct. For AOL, it’s all about community and simplicity.