Next generation blogging tools

Next generation blogging tools
: Answering Dave Winer’s invitation and challenge, here is a first wishlist of functionalityi for the next generation of blogging tools (more to come):

: A tool so incredibly simple any child or non-Internet, non-PC user could figure out immediately how to use it: Oh, I put this there and I can get to it from anywhere.

“This” can be text, a photo, a sound, a video, a shopping list, a school paper, anything.

“Put” can mean type or drag-and-drop or even the dreaded “browse.”

“Get” can mean that from a simple address on a simple page, I can find this thing again or send my friends there to find it.

“Anywhere” means it should be accessible from the web or mobile phones or RSS or whatever.

: The tool should be easily translated into ANY language on earth. That is how we will change this world, when blogging tools work in Arabic and Korean and Chinese of various stripes and Balkan languages and such.

: Distributed posting. My blog should be not only what I put on my blog but what I put elsewhere — a comment on your blog, an article in the paper, a review on Amazon, a song on iTunes. My blog should be able to aggregate all the things I create anywhere with nothing more than a simple identification that it’s mine.

: I want to be able to publish video easily but without going bankrupt on bandwidth (p2p time).

: I want a one-size-fits-all ping: Ping this site and it will, in turn, ping everybody else. Pinging is getting to be time-consuming. No reason it can’t be standardized and worked out in a cooperative P2P relationship among all the pingees.

: Jay Rosen‘s request: He wants the tool to list all the links he uses (because, he says, this will create the curriculum for a course).

: I also want the tool to compile all the links I use to tell me which sites are the most fruitful for my linking; this is another way to prioritize and value my blogroll.

: Make it easy to post from any mobile device at any length with any media type.

: Make it easy to read from any mobile device.

: Give me very, very powerful tools for managing comments: Let me see all comments, all comments today, all comments from a given commenter, all comments that use this word…

: Let readers see just comments from those who use their identities (or all comments).

: Allow the option of threaded comments (to deal with the size of a BlogFor America).

: The problem with tracking blog links is that we assume they are all positive. Of course, many are negative. We want to capture that difference. Technorati has a suggested standard but it requires tagging smarts. Build it into the tool: Instead of one link button, give me three: positive, negative, neutral.

: I want to drag and drop material from a web page into my blog post: Put this here, put that there. I’d like split-screen blogging: web page on the right; blog post in the same browser on the left (so I don’t have to keep toggling back and forth) and I can mark anything and drop it over with a link included.

: Failing the idea above, I want somebody to get a good means of multiple cut-and-pastes, so I can in one swoop get all the quotes and links I want from a web page and insert them into my browswer in whatever order makes sense (without having to remember them all). So let me cut a dozen quotes and links and then show them to me in my blog tool and let me insert each easily. That is far more fluid that what I have to do now: go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste, go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste….

: For the good of this new medium and industry, create standard traffic measurement for weblogs so we know who reads what when. We want to know that for our egos. Advertisers will want to know that. We can show the way for every other medium, online and off, and create great and standard reporting tools. It will benefit everyone.

: Create hooks for each post that can be used — at the blogger’s will, of course — for targeted searching and targeted ad calls (e.g., find all posts this guy wrote about this; put ads on posts this guy wrote about that).

: Extend David Galbraith‘s one-line-bio to allow bloggers to put up resumes and life stories and personal ads, whatever they choose. Let them describe themselves as well as their work and let them be found.

: Create automated, intuitive categorization of posts, with manual override (e.g., let the system guess that this post is about blogging and technology).

: Find new words that will make sense to the world for “RSS” and “permanlink” and “XML” and “blogroll.”

: Let me reverse-subscribe my blog — that is, let me contribute it or certain posts to a conference blog without anyone having to go to the effort to compile and aggregate posts from that conference. If I wanted to say that I have a relevant blog for an event or a cause or a candidate, let me join in with one click (and if someone is running or moderating that aggregation, let them decide whether to let me into the club).

: When I come to something interesting, I often wonder whether it has already been blogged to death (and what others are saying about it) before I decide whether I want to blog it. So I’d like to see a distributed Technorati, a page rank with substance: When looking at a NY TImes story, I see that 23 bloggers have blogged it and with a click, I can see who has blogged it and what they say.

What else?

: UPDATE: Add Howard Rheingold’s good request for better blog comments, including the ability to subscribe to a thread and keep the discussion going.

  • I dislike this idea for the same reason I hate the notion that it should be incredibly easy to vote. Blogging and voting should require a minimum of effort and education at least. There are enough brainless idiots out there filling the net with their halfcooked, uninformed, bloviated prose. You don’t need everything everyone thinks on the net somewhere. Too much content, too little worth. Maybe if they master the already tiny skills needed to work a blog they might have the simple intellect needed to blog out something of substance. If not, no.

  • A briliant idea!
    How about incorporating an webbased translation service in these blogs with which, by click of a button, the whole content can be translated in English or in other major languages and vice-versa.
    The blog contents should support easy browsing in PCs connected with low bandwidth as well as 3G mobile phones.

  • Great list, Jeff. And Jay’s request is already possible in MT, it just requires a plugin right now.

  • Jeremy

    How about something that doesn’t put a : at the start of each paragraph…

  • : Jeremy:
    : LOL

  • WYSIWYG HTML editing, especially for comments. Comment forms should have formatting buttons above them just like word processors do. Clicking a “bold” button will make the words in your text field bold and will send them out with strong tags. Regular people leaving comments shouldn’t have to learn HTML tags, leave that for the site designers.

  • : Failing the idea above, I want somebody to get a good means of multiple cut-and-pastes, so I can in one swoop get all the quotes and links I want from a web page and insert them into my browswer in whatever order makes sense (without having to remember them all).
    Jeff, I’ve written a program (currently living here) that does that for OS X; there are another of other venerable solutions (CopyPaste dates back to System 7, I think, and QuicKeys is older than that). I’ve heard the name Clipboard Magic bandied about for Windows users. This isn’t really a next-generation blog feature, though, is it?

  • tom beta2

    docweasel: I disagree. Those skills do NOTHING to test one’s ability to put out quality commentary. Consequently, you have bloggers out there who have the skills but nothing of worth to say, and you have people with something worth saying who don’t have the skills to put it online.
    Put it ALL on the ‘net; let the blogosphere sort it out.

  • Katherine

    I think filtering comments from anonymous users is a bit of a problem. I use my real first name–it’s plenty common enough to guarantee my anonymity–but everyone in the world with my last name would fit in one room for a family reunion, which makes us all extremely Googlable. I need more privacy than that. If a site filtered out my comments, what’s to stop me from signing myself “Katherine Johnson”? I’d make it through the filter, but we’d have a net decrease in online honesty and accountability. Unless you’re going to tie the filter to the real world, through a whois lookup or something, which is frankly a bit Orwellian for my taste.

  • User registration system, optional, which not only allows blog owner to control comments easier, but also allows for readers to select to view/not view articles and comments by certain posters/readers, on certain topics, etc. Slashcode already has this. MT or a follow-on tool should as well.

  • Contrary to elitist technocrat “docweasel” above, I cannot possibly stress enough how wonderful and important it is that your first one come first. That’s by far the most important thing. I want a blogging tool that a complete tech moron like me can use. Typepad comes close, but something even easier. The ideal for me would be that the medium should become totally dissociated from techies, a way for everyone to get their content on the web-writing, photos, movies, songs, lists of links- whatever, without having to learn goofy jargon, or how to “code” or anything like that or to rely visibly on those who do.
    The second thing is the RSS/XML/aggregator thing. Someone has to figure out a way to explain WTF these things are and how to use them (in English)or they should just shut up about them.
    Finally, someone needs to come up with a less gross sounding name than “blogger” (As Matt Drudge says, it sounds too much like booger). I’m assuming techies came up wih this name.
    The idea is that this medium has to get out of the hands of the technocrats, has to, has to. I want to see good writers writing not people who know the technical aspects of how to work a printing press writing.

  • re p2p ping: has supported it for almost exactly two years now (
    none of the other services have decided to join in (that is, distribute pings), although there are a half-dozen services that do subscribe to the pings from

  • Ric Locke

    “… I want somebody to get a good means of multiple cut-and-pastes, so I can in one swoop get all the quotes and links I want from a web page and insert them into my browswer in whatever order makes sense (without having to remember them all). So let me cut a dozen quotes and links and then show them to me in my blog tool and let me insert each easily. That is far more fluid that what I have to do now: go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste, go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste….”
    Give Opera ( a try. It’s not quite what you want, but it has a “Note” feature that’s like an aggregating clipboard.
    At present it shows the result as text. The developers are remarkably open to ideas; send yours to them.

  • I am working – slowly – on a blogging system called Minx. The main reason I’m doing this is that I like Movable Type but it is incredibly slow. And I wanted a much more powerful comment system.
    I will keep your list handy when I get back to the project next month.

  • to tom beta2:
    bah- we aren’t talking rocket science here
    anyone who can’t master a simple blogger more than likely has nothing of worth to say- its insulting to those of us who took the time to learn code and formatting that so many tech illiterates blog now
    too much talk, not enough sense

  • tom beta 2

    Yeah, docweasel, it isn’t rocket science, but then, we aren’t talking about launching anything into space, either. We’re talking about having a simple Web site, which no one is going to force you to visit.
    As for the insult to those who took the time to learn the coding, what is that about? Sounds like my father: “Boy, you don’t know anything. Why, when I learned to program, we did everything in Assembly, on punch cards. What the heck is this object oriented crap you’re doing? Why, those are words in your program, son!! English words!!! Oh, woe is me! I’ve raised a brainless wimp! How can I live with the shame?”