Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thing 1 (part 2) : A comparison of blog software

Before moving on to Thing 2, I wanted to talk more about one of the questions in Thing 1 - how different blogging software packages compare. I've used WordPress, Blogger, Moveable Type, LiveJournal, and a few others over the years.

Digital native:
Functionally, I'm a digital native: I have preferences about what software I use, but in practice, I'll learn how to use most things without too much difficulty. As an example: my preference for personal use? Either WordPress or LiveJournal via FireFox on a Mac. This blog? Blogger via FireFox (okay, I admit I adore tabbed browsing) on a PC running Windows XP at the moment, since I'm at work. Still totally happy.

There are two features of LiveJournal I really like: the ability to 'lock' posts so that only selected other LiveJournal users can see them (in various combinations) and the fact that a number of design choices lead towards active online communities.

People can either post in their own journals (and keep track of new comments in other people's journals very easily) or they can post in communities. I really like the interplay: I find new interesting people to talk to regularly.

I use LiveJournal extensively for my own personal processing. I like that I can talk or vent about something, but not burden any one particular friend in email or on the phone (if they're busy, they aren't reading, and therefore aren't answering or feeling guilty about not answering, either.) But I also like that it's easy for me to find other people I might enjoy talking to. I like a number of the community tools (even while there are some I would love, like fully threaded new comment tracking.)

I leverage my friends list (the list of people whose journals I read regularly) heavily for information, too: I can ask a question there about something I'm exploring, and get answers and ideas back quite quickly. At the same time, it's more private than a wide-open blog, and I have a better idea of the background of the people answering.

I use WordPress for my 'public' personal blog (which is related to my religious life, and is also under a pseduonym). I like the versatility of WordPress. I can set up a relatively straightforward design with relatively low technical knowledge - but I can also fiddle with things endlessly or design my own themes if I like.

I also like the combination of tagging and categories for being able to organise topics: on that blog, I have categories for general types of posts, but use tags to note specific series of posts that people might want to look at later.

I like Blogger's ease of use: for this professional discussion, where I don't want to do a lot of design work (I just want to write, and post, and get on with life). I do feel a little frustated by some of the settings options: the things I'm more interested in (format and design changes) are harder or impossible to do, while things I don't care about (lots of eye-catching plugins) are easy to do at a click of a button. (I very much go for simple but visually appealing in my preferred design.)

All three (and some other systems I've used, like MoveableType) are perfectly workable systems - but they do slightly different things, and they appeal to different audiences. I enjoy using all three, but which one I'd recommend if someone asks me about starting a blog depends on a lot of factors (Do they like playing with design features? Do they just want to write and post, and not fiddle? Are they looking for online communities to join?)

1 comment:

Ann WS said...

great comparison of the various blogging softwares. Nice that you are participating in 23 things and looking forward to reading more.