Google Rolls Out New Blogger Template Designer

For all those who stuck around with Google’s free blog hosting service Blogger, Google has just rolled out the new Template Designer. Finally, the folks at Blogger.com realized that the old selection of templates are too outdated and decided to introduced some new templates that you can use on your blogs as well as a new set of tools for customizing your blogs including designing your own Blogger template. This is also good news for those who wants to start their own blogs just now but don’t want to use WordPress.com.

Google’s Blogger Template Designer currently offers 15 new professional templates, custom blog layouts that you can apply in each of the new templates, professional background images coming from iStockphoto plus several color, fonts and other customization features that you can use.

If you have an existing Blogger account, you can try the Template Designer out by going to Blogger in Draft. Once you’ve come up with a great design, you can simply save it

The Blogger Template Designer is  currently hosted in Blogger in Draft where you are free to try it out on your blog. You can see the Template Designer if you click on the Layout link. Once you’ve come up with the best template and design for your blog you can opt to apply it on your blog.

It would be interesting to note why it took Google this long to come up with such features. I almost thought that Google is about to shut down Blogger since it has not been given too much attention the past few months. But then again, given the millions of blogs hosted on Blogger.com, Google will definitely put this service down.

If you are currently maintaining a Blogger blog, check out the new Template Designer and share with us your experience.

Report, More Internet Users are now Conversationalists in Social Networks

Internet users category 490x542 Report, More Internet Users are now Conversationalists in  Social Networks

Latest data from Forrester is showing that a new category of Internet users are now comprising 1/3 of the total Internet population.  This group called “conversationalist” are Internet users who post status updates on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, at least once a week. In addition, these conversationalists are mostly female, with 70% of them age 30 years old and above.

The report groups Internet users into the following categories:

Creators – are Internet users who create content either through their own blogs or websites, upload video and audio content as well as write articles and post them online. This group represents 24% of the total Internet population.

Critics – are Internet users who  post product reviews, comment on blogs, participate in online community forums, and contribute to wikis. They represent 37% of the Internet users.

Collectors – are those who tag photos, participate in online voting and use RSS feeds. This group represent 20% of Internet users.

Joiners – those maintain profiles in social networking sites and visit these sites often but don’t really join in the interaction. They represent 59% of the Internet users.

Spectators – comprising 70% of Internet users, this group read blogs, listent o podcasts and consumer online information but don’t really contribute.

Inactives – 17%

Conversationalists – this group is comprised of those who post updates on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter regularly, that is once a week.

The data was based on Forrester’s social technographics whereby social technology behavior were analyzed to construct those social profiles.

An interesting fact about this data that is worth noting is the fact that although more people are joing social networks, the number of those people who create content remains the same. Of course this is understandable since it is easier to maintain social networking profiles as well as participate in the communication compared to maintaing blogs, creating websites, uploading videos and other ways of creating online content.

So, which group of Internet users are you?

 

WordPress 2.9 Available fror Download

Here you go, the endless updates to everybody’s favorite blogging software, WordPress 9 is now available for download. Codenamed “Carmen” after the legendary jazz vocalist Carmen McRae, WordPress 9 boasts of several nice features with the built-in image editor as probably the one feature you would surely like.

If you’re looking at WordPress 2.9 from the point of view of a user, here are its nicest features:

1. Global undo/”trash” feature – lets you restore posts or comments which you might have accidentally delete.

2. Built-in image editor – crop, edit, rotate, flip and scale your image attachments before publishing your post.

3. Batch plugin update and compatibility checking – lets you update 10 plugins at once, also check whether plugins are compatible with new releases of WordPress.

4. Easier video embeds – this feature is going to make all our lives easier. This will let you paste a URL on its own line and WordPress will turn it into a video embed code. Supports YouTube, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revisions3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy and WordPress.tv.

If your inclination is a bit on the technical side of  WordPress blogs, here are just some of the features under the hood:

1. rel=canonical support for betther SEO.

2. automatic database optimization support, which you can enable in your wp-config.php file by adding define(‘WP_ALLOW_REPAIR’, true);.

3. Themese can register “post thumbnails” which allow them to attach an image to the post, especially useful for magazine-style themes

4. a new comment meta table that allows arbitrary key/value pairs to be attached to comments, just like posts, so you can now expand greatly what you can do in the comment framework.

5. Custom post types have been upgraded with better API support so you can juggle more types than just post, page, and attachment.

Alright, time to do some WordPress upgrading folks. Good luck!

Blogger nears it’s tenth birthday

As Blogger nears it’s tenth birthday the Blogger team has published some interesting data:

  • Every minute of every day, 270,000 words are written on Blogger
  • Millions of people worldwide use Blogger to publish to their blog each week
  • Almost two thirds of Blogger’s traffic comes from outside North America (What’s the #2 country after the U.S.? Brazil, followed by Turkey, Spain, Canada, and the U.K.)
  • The most popular sport for our bloggers? Soccer (that’s football to the rest of the world), more than four times larger than the #2 sport, baseball

While the team at Techcrunch a comparison with other blog platforms and Twitter published (see graphic below), the real question to ask here is in how far Facebook a blogging platform has become for many people.

Like many people I started blogging on Blogger and moved then to a self-hosted WordPress setup but would not set up a personal blog anymore in 2009. Facebook and Twitter certainly have filled in the need for a personal blog for me. Like Paul Boutin says:

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

There is no doubt that Google made a great decision purchasing Blogger, especially considered the amount of Adsense ads the Blogger platform runs, but the biggest question is if blogs will continue to grow perpetuously or if there will be a new shift towards bigger CMS platforms now new media companies such as B5Media Inc. are integrating forums as well on their main blogs.

blogger chart 490x254 Blogger nears its tenth birthday

What is a blog? The line is blurred and we have seen many sites evolve from ‘blog’ to multi-authored magazines. I, for one, am looking forward to read the next State of the Blogosphere at Technorati. You can read the 2008 State of the Blogosphere here.

Fashion model wants to unmask anonymous blogger

A pending application to the New York Supreme Court seeks to force Google to divulge the identity of an anonymous blogger because of a few comments made on the Internet on one single day.

A hearing on the motion to reveal the anonymous blogger’s identity is scheduled for tomorrow. The petitioner, fashion model Liskula Cohen, alleges that references to her as a “skank” and “ho” on the website “Skanks in NYC” constitutes actionable libel under New York law and on that ground seeks to unmask the anonymous blogger.

“Despite its seemingly petty underpinnings, this case carries serious implications,” says Debra J. Guzov, co-founder of Guzov Ofsink, LLC, which is defending the anonymous blogger. “We strongly believe that if the plaintiff were to succeed in her efforts, it would move toward the erosion of our basic constitutional right to anonymous free speech.”

“Ideas are exchanged freely on the Internet in large part because participants can speak using assumed names or no name at all,” Guzov added.

How about you? What is your take on this arguments?

Dr. Andrew Weil launches daily updated blog

drweil Dr. Andrew Weil launches daily updated blogTime-crunched? Who isn’t? But there’s no reason why a busy schedule should keep you from getting the essential natural health information you need to make smart health choices.

That conviction inspired Andrew Weil, M.D. to begin Dr. Weil’s Daily Blog. Regularly updated, Dr. Weil’s Daily Blog provides practical advice that Americans living in today’s busy world want and need. Topics include:

  • Fundamentals of Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
  • How to get the most out of vitamins and supplements
  • The most effective exercises
  • Stress-relief tips
  • Green-living guidelines

The new blog will complement Dr. Weil’s existing web sites, each of which provides a unique focus. The flagship site, DrWeil.com, features more than 5,000 pages of detailed and comprehensive information on all aspects of natural health. In addition, Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging explores how to minimize and manage age-related health conditions naturally, and Dr. Weil’s Optimum Health Plan takes plan members through an eight-week program that optimizes the health of body, mind and spirit.

Boing Boing launches gaming blog Offworld

offworld Boing Boing launches gaming blog OffworldBoing Boing announced the launch of Offworld, a new gaming blog edited by Brandon Boyer with regular contributions from all of the ‘Boingers.’ Offworld aims to distill the fractured, esoteric world of gaming forums, academia, communities, websites and blogs, into an easily digestible feed of the most important and interesting developments in the gaming world.

Offworld covers everything from major mainstream gaming titles to the world of small, independent game developers. Keenly aware that most gamers don’t have the time to troll through all the scattered news sources and sample all of the new games, Offworld contributors will do all the heavy lifting for their readers and profile only the clever, innovative, interesting and fun games that get released.

Media Bloggers Association launches liability insurance and online course in media law

mediabloggers fixed logo Media Bloggers Association launches liability insurance and online course in media lawThe Media Bloggers Association (MBA) has launched a comprehensive program to provide bloggers access to the same sort of legal and financial resources long available to traditional media organizations including BlogInsure, a first of its kind liability insurance program for bloggers which provides coverage for all forms of defamation, invasion of privacy and copyright infringement or similar allegations arising out of blogging activities.

The cornerstone of the new program is an online course in media law developed by the Media Bloggers Association in partnership with The Poynter Institute’s News University. The course, Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers, was co-authored by David Ardia of the Citizen Media Law Project, which is jointly affiliated with Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Citizen Media and Geanne Rosenberg of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and Baruch College.

Because the MBA believes so strongly that all bloggers should take this course, it is made available at no charge and, although the course is an integral part of the new MBA membership application process, bloggers are not required to join the MBA to take the course. Payment of annual dues for MBA membership is not requested until after the course has been completed and bloggers may opt-out of the application process at any time.

After completing the exam, bloggers will be asked to take a course assessment; this exam is a prerequisite for individuals interested in joining the Media Bloggers Association so those wishing to join must opt to report their test scores to the MBA. It is also the basis for the significant discount on liability insurance available to bloggers through the BlogInsure program.

BlogHer goes straight to bloggers with Reach Out Tour

BlogHer announced the launch of its Reach Out Tour to take place in October 2008, stopping in six U.S. cities for lively one-day conferences that will bring highlights of its popular sold-out annual conference to a more local stage. The success of the annual conferences prompted BlogHer to embark on a two-week tour to meet the growing demands of its online community of women, and give local bloggers a more intimate environment to discuss blogging basics, lead sessions on local themes and network with their community.

The three BlogHer co-founders will kick off the tour in Boston on October 11 and then continue on to five additional cities. The tour schedule includes: Washington, DC (October 13), Nashville, TN (October 16), Greensboro, NC (October 18), Atlanta, GA (October 21), New Orleans, LA (October 25)

General Motors will be sponsoring this inaugural event by providing attendees within 200 miles of each scheduled city with Saturn hybrid vehicles for carpools to the event. Participating carpoolers will blog about their experiences with the vehicles on BlogHer.com. In addition, GM will bring back their popular “ride and drive” events at each tour location, where bloggers will have the opportunity to test drive varying cars on site.

The conference agendas will be broken up into three distinct sections including: blogging basics to help newcomers start a blog and figure out what their next steps are once they have one; custom topics per city based on themes that will resonate within existing local conversations; and a Geek Lab, facilitated by Sarah Dopp, a creative professional in the tech industry based out of San Francisco.

Instablogs launches Club for bloggers

Instablogs is opening its blog network membership by launching the Instablogs Club. By opening its network, external blogs can now apply to become members of Instablogs Club and enjoy the benefits that its blog network members have been enjoying.

“We decided to open our network to external bloggers so that they can also enjoy some of our network benefits, including but not limited to traffic, ad sales, technology, and networking with our great members,” Ankit Maheshwari, CEO of Instablogs, said.

“The Instablogs Club consists of those who host and maintain independent blogs and would like to avail our platform and showcase their content to millions of Instablogs readers each month. Our aim is to showcase the best blogs on a variety of topics and help bloggers get more exposure,” he added.

The Club is looking for bloggers who are passionate about their blog– one that provides compelling content, consistent in his or her frequency of posting, and is willing to share their knowledge and expertise to other members of the Club.

Club members stand to benefit from Instablogs traffic, revenues, and a vibrant community of blog network members.

Launched in 2005, Instablogs Blog Network enjoys more than 2.5 million pageviews per month. The Club will work to drive traffic to each member and benefit from this attention.

The Club is currently accepting applications and will be announcing its first batch of members next month.