Monday, October 11, 2004

Internal blogging update

Our internal blogging efforts are struggling along. There are two main issues. The first is the user interface. We are using WordPress, and its posting interface leaves something to be desired. While Blogger's interface is far from perfect, it is a lot better than that provided by WordPress, especially for those who aren't comfortable with HTML. I was a big fan of "reveal codes" back in my WordPerfect days, so I tend to use the "Edit HTML" mode on Blogger. Most people, though, seem to be more comfortable with "Compose" mode, which is much more like using Outlook. Another problem is the lack indication of authorship in group blogs. There's probably a variable, but I need to find it and include it in the template. That should be in the template by default.

The second, and bigger issue, is just what we figured it would be: how do you get people to actually change their ways and use this stuff? We started with a limited, simple concept: status reports. Why email these to the group when you can simply post them? Also, you might change the nature of status reporting from an omnibus biweekly document to quick, focused updates on a particular topic. Theoretically, these would be easier to write. However, this blog has been slow to take off. While some in the group are posting their reports as intended, others are still using email.

We clearly haven't provided enough goodness to provoke a change in behavior. We have successfully changed status reporting behavior in the past, when we went from boring each other to death with oral renditions at staff meetings to the current email format. While writing status reports isn't a joy, it is so much better than the oral alternative. Apparently, the current environment isn't enough better to drive change.

The UI issues are one problem. Even the reports that make it to the blog are generally not as well formatted and easy to read as those that are emailed.

Another problem is notification. The site automatically produces a feed, and I recommended five different options for feed readers, so my teammates can get notified. However, first they have to install a feed reader, and then they have to remember to fire it up or place it in their startup group. If you haven't already been converted to the joys of RSS, why would you fire up your feed reader for one site? You wouldn't. If you have been converted, then why would you switch from a server-based feed reader like Bloglines that you can access from anywhere to a client based one for one feed? Again, you wouldn't. Email is ubiquitous and has none of these issues, although it has plenty of others.

The WordPress problem can be fixed by replacing it with something else. Does MovableType, for instance, have a better posting interface? We could also pick a feed reader that synched with Bloglines via the Bloglines API, which might make a client feed reader more appetizing. Finally, we have to get more interesting internal content than status reports. Before we can get there, though, we have to work out some kinks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an alternative to Wordpress, I have set up a site using a bb-style format. Take a look at this site.I also want to consider a more integrated style, such as zoops, xope, or metadot. These follow more of a portal format.
If you have any experience with these, let me know.
BTW, I am working on getting a real host name for the test server. The request has been submitted.
As Eric says, adoption is the biggest issue, in my opinion.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SMTP is so nineties ...

1:42 PM  

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