Six Apart’s Mena Trott helped start the stampede by
co-designing user-friendly software. But she thinks the blogging trend
is only just beginning.
It’s hard to imagine the world without blogs. The publishing technology
has become a cultural and political force. One of the reasons for the
rapid growth of the blogosphere is the existence of user-friendly
blogging software such as Moveable Type. The program was designed with
simplicity in mind by Mena Trott, a former graphic designer and early
blogger (she launched dollarshort.org in early 2001), and her husband,
Ben Trott, a programmer.
Mena and Ben went on to found Six Apart, the San
Francisco-based company behind the blog-hosting service TypePad. In
January, 2005, Six Apart acquired LiveJournal, an online community of
personal blogs that today boasts 9.6 million accounts and more than
16,000 new posts per hour. In December, 2005, Six Apart and Yahoo!
(YHOO) announced a partnership to build Yahoo-hosted blogs with
Apart is currently working on a new product, codenamed Comet, that will
start beta testing this quarter. "It’s meant for the next generation of
blogs," says Mena Trott, without revealing details. Just before setting
off for Monterey, Calif., to speak at the annual TED conference —
that’s technology, education, and design — Trott spoke with
BusinessWeek Online reporter Reena Jana
about challenges in blog design — which, she hints, Comet will attempt
to address. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation:
What do you see as the next big issue in blog design?
focus on the idea of more select and filtered readership, and how to
allow people to read certain posts. That to me is interesting: how
different people want different views of the blog. A big issue right
now is how to take that idea in account when designing blogs.
new challenge is the trend toward adding a lot of assets. People are
adding photos, video, and music to supplement the text. How do you make
it possible for bloggers to present as much as they want to present
without creating blogs that are too cluttered or confusing?
Do you think that blogging will supplant mainstream news Web sites and other established media?
will be similarities. But blogging and traditional journalism play by
different rules and will remain distinct. They’re meant to complement
each other, play off of each other in terms of the readers’ attention.
do I read when I wake up? I go to news sites. But I’m more excited
right now about personal users. The 10 blogs I really care about are
written by my friends. I’m interested in the community of a blog
Even if you don’t think that blogs will supplant traditional news media, don’t you think they have had an impact?
think the biggest impact of blogs on mainstream journalism is the
presence of a more personal voice. The popularity of the personal tone
used by bloggers has caused traditional media to realize it’s O.K. for
some reporters to use "I."
And now many mainstream news media
outlets are now incorporating blogs on their Web sites. It makes sense.
A reporter’s or editor’s blog provides a way to include details that
might not make it into an official article or TV report — and a strong
sense of personality or identity associated with that journalist.
By Reena Jana