Bill and blogs

Bill and blogs
: Well, Bill Gates embrace of blogs reminds me of his embrace of the Internet, which changed his products, his company, and his industry.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to launch into another spasm of blog triumphalism. Gates wasn’t talking about blogs as blather. He was talking about blogs as tools for personal and business publishing of any kind of information. And he was talking about RSS as a new means of communication and distribution.

This means that, of course, Microsoft will embrace blogs and RSS in its tools, from Word to IE. It also makes Google look smart for buying Blogger (without a strategy then).

Providing publishing tools and space will be an essential service in the near future — for businesses, for family shopping lists, for unlimited sorts of publishing — and the war to win that space is just beginning.

Forget giving me virtually unlimited free email space. Give me virtually unlimited blogspace (and bandwidth).

I’m not sure how this will shake out for companies. It’s easy to argue that blogging toolmakers should consider moving to Maine and opening a B&B (with or without selling to Microsoft) — but then again, as personal and business publishing gets more specialized, there may be opportunities in creating specialized tools. Wouldn’t it be great if the Microsoft Word blogging tool allowed plug-ins? Yeah, it would be great.

Years ago, I worked with a German startup that had a flexible toolset — an Internet platform — to allow developers to create, for example, that shopping-list module (which you could update from the web or mobile devices) and a calendar module and a photo module and so on. Today, the Northwestern students creating a community blog at are making me look at these tools in a new way (I just killed two development projects for hyperlocal content and plan to use specialized blog modules instead).

The smart way to look at Gates’ blessing is to think about blogging as a platform for any kind of publishing, communication, and distribution. Bill will.