A thought on the future of blogging.

I think I see an emerging trend in blogging. (This is what I’m paid to do, after all.)

I started thinking seriously about getting OS X for my (somewhat struggling, G3) iMac when I realized that ALL the most interesting new blogging tools– Kung-Log, Kung Tunes, Tinderbox 2, etc.– are written for OS X. Apparently the blogging revolution will not be broadcast from OS 9.2.2 boxes.

I haven’t done the upgrade yet, in part because of the lawsuit filed against Apple by G3 owners alleging that OS X doesn’t work as well on G3s as Apple promised. (Does anyone have any experience running X on an older Mac? I’ve got a iMac DV from about 2000.)

But all this has led me to look at the various desktop blogging tools out there– programs that are either 1) designed to help you write blog entries, but have nicer interfaces, spell-checking, etc. (Kung-Log and Zempt are good examples of this kind of program); or 2) designed to do some other things, AND let you easily export your content to a blog (like Tinderbox). I’m starting to think that the next stage of evolution in blogging is an increasing separation of the writing/editing functions from the publication, and a multiplication of the editing interfaces available to bloggers.

In Blogger, editing and publishing were welded together: you went online, typed in a box, and hit “publish.” Ditto for MT, though you can do lots of cool stuff with style sheets, MTInclude, etc. However, while editing and publishing are linked in Blogger, they designed the system as a commons: the Blogger API allowed developers to create new editing tools that would work as well as Blogger’s own Web interface.

There are lots of times when the simplicity and easy accessibility of a Web page editing interface is a good thing. But the more I write, the more I want… well, more space than the little text box, more tools, etc.. The Web interface feels cramped compared to a Microsoft Word document, and so I feel like I can’t develop my ideas as fully as I could in a “larger” (visually larger and more feature-rich) environment. For more complex pieces– long essays, or multi-post pieces– I’d like to have something more expansive.

On the other hand, there are also times when I’m in Trader Joe’s, and want to just post a very quick entry. Then I’d use my Web-enabled PDA. There are a number of programs that let you do that, though since I can’t get Wi-fi to work on my Clie worth a damn, I don’t actually use any of them.

Where we seem to be headed is an environment in which the blogging program allows input from a variety of sources: a Web interface, desktop clients, PDAs, cell phones, camera-enabled cell phones etc.. Doubtless it won’t be too long before we have digital cameras that can automatically upload pictures to a blog (product developers’ alert!).