Tag Archives | Blogs

The Verge is Live

For the past few months, This is My Next–the temporary home for a bunch of ex-Engadget editors–has been one of the best tech blogs in the business. (I liked it so much it was on the list of the The Verge. It’s This is My Next only more so–with more stories, more ambitious stories, and a neat new format. Odds are that it, like This is My Next, will quickly become a must-visit destination.

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SendLove.to, a Voting System for People

SendLove.to, which launched this week, wants to get people talking about politicians, entertainment figures, and other celebrities–and to do so, it’s launching an intriguing service that feels a little like a Facebook Like button and a little like a commenting system. It hopes that vast quantities of blogs will start using it, creating a giant community of people across the Web assessing famous personages.

SendLove is available as a plugin for WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and other blogging platforms. Its technology scans the words in an article, identifies public figures mentioned in them, and turns their names into hyperlinks. Click on one of the links, and you can vote the person in question up or down, and (optionally) add a comment about him or her.

At the bottom of the page, SendLove rejiggers the comments section so that there are tabs for the personages mentioned in the post.  The tabs graph the person’s popularity over time, both at the specific site and across the Web.

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This is My Next Name

First there was Gizmodo. Then its founding editor left and started Engadget. Years later, much of the staff of Engadget departed for a (really good) placeholder site called This is My Next. And now, according to All Things Digital, there will be The Verge.


An Embarrassment of Cool Blogs

I’m a fan of an annual TIME.com feature called the 25 Best Blogs, but you won’t hear me praising this year’s edition. That would be vain–I wrote (almost all of) the story. And  I had an awfully good time doing so. (The picks are based on nominations from some of my TIME colleagues, and some recommendations from my Twitter followers made the list, too.)

The clever folks at TIME.com have also put together a Twitter list of feeds from all the blogs we chose, letting you follow all of them with one click–as I just did.

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Tumblr Has Tumbled. When Will It Get Back Up?

Yesterday afternoon, popular minimalist blogging service Tumblr went down, taking every Tumblr blog with it. As I write this, the outage continues–it’s surely earned a spot in the Hall of Shame reserved for the longest, most crippling downtimes ever suffered by major Internet services.

The Tumblr folks haven’t done a great job of crisis control, either. The error message you get when you try to visit the Tumblr homepage or any Tumblr blog still talks about the site being back “shortly” and Tumblr working “quickly” to restore service. But by now, it’s clear that the outage isn’t short, and fixing things is turning out to be anything but a speedy process. In fact, the more recent of the two updates posted to Tumblr’s Twitter account says the recovery is “slow and painful.” That Tweet also says that the company is “almost through” dealing with the database issue that caused the crippling glitch. But the site remains down.

Except for truly extreme cases, even Web services that suffer extended outages generally bounce back. But I wonder if any Tumblr bloggers will take their business elsewhere as a result of this mess–or at least create a backup site for use in case of emergency?


Twitter, the Level Playing Field

I had fun this week visiting with Richard Brewer-Hay, the blogger who presides over eBay Ink, eBay’s official corporate blog. We talked about his adventures interacting with the gigantic, highly opinionated community of communities that’s made up of people interested in eBay, PayPal, StubHub, and other eBay-owned sites and services. (I’ve never met an eBay user who doesn’t have strong opinions on it, although the same person may be fiercely positive or fiercely negative depending on when I ask.)

Richard is also in charge of the eBay Ink Twitter feed, and one thing he said about Twitter resonated with me. Some of his followers prefer to make contact with him at Twitter over the eBay Blog itself, because eBay has complete control over the blog and very little control over its presence on Twitter. They’re suspicious that eBay might be tamping down dissent in the blog’s comments, and pleased that Richard couldn’t suppress @replies and other tweets about eBay even if he wanted to do so.

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Finally, a Major New Reason to Use Blogger: Easy Custom Templates

At this point, blogging has been around so long that there’s nothing extraordinary about almost anyone–from an eleven-year-old to a grandma–having his or her own blog. One basic thing about blogging, however, remains surprisingly tough: gaining control over a blog’s look and feel. Automattic’s WordPress.com, Google’s Blogger, and Six Apart’s TypePad all provide plenty of off-the-shelf themes, but no simple way to create a truly unique skin for your blog.

Now Blogger–a venerable service that hasn’t changed much in eons–is doing something about it. It’s using its Blogger in Draft lab site to launch an ambitious template designer that provides point-and-click control over elements like colors, images, and layout. You can start with a canned theme, use the editor, and end up with one that’s unique to your Blogger blog.

So far, I’ve only seen the template designer in screen-image form–you can see some example shots after the jump–rather than getting hands-on experience. But it looks like a neat idea that could be a major new reason to consider using Blogger when you create a blog. It also looks at least a little like the customization options at SquareSpace, a less well-known blogging platform that emphasizes a blend of powerful features with a simple interface.

(UPDATE: Now that the template editor is live, I tried it. It is indeed nifty, especially in the way you see a live preview of the template as you change colors, fonts, and layouts. Wish every blogging platform had something like this.)

Blogger’s template designer will be available to all Blogger users today as an opt-in offering with fifteen starter templates; Blogger product manager Siobhan Quinn told me that Google wants to roll it out as a default feature as soon as possible, and that the final version will offer additional customizable versions of existing Blogger themes.

Here’s Blogger’s post on the new feature.

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Google Web Elements: Easier Widgets for Your Blog

Google LogoGoogle is holding its Google I/O developers’ conference in San Francisco this week, and among the bits of news from this morning’s keynote address is the launch of Google Web Elements, a new feature for adding snippets of information to a blog or personal site.  The feature launches with Elements for embedding Google Calendars, Google News feeds, YouTube videos, presentations, spreadsheets, and more, with more to come.

Everything is very, very simple–you set an option or two, then get a snippet of code you can add to a page to embed the content–and I think everything that Elements lets you do can also be done by other means. But that’s sort of the point: Google says it’s trying to make grabbing content so easy that there’s no reason not to do so.

Elements doesn’t make embedding content utterly painless–you’ve still got to figure out how to get bits of JavaScript onto your site. I’d love to see someone figure out how to do something similar through drag-and-drop maneuvers only–no code required. And the Elements still aren’t universal, since not all sites allow for easy, unfettered embedding of JavaScript. (Ones hosted, like Technologizer, by WordPress.com don’t–which is why I haven’t embedded any Elements here by way of example. But here’s a static image of the Elements that Google is launching today:

Google Web Elements