Whither Movable Type?

September 30, 2010

There are several comparisons of WordPress and Drupal here at Changing Way, the most recent being 5 months ago. What about other social publishing platforms? Well, I posted about a Smashing comparison of WordPress and Joomla at around the same time.

And what about Movable Type? That’s the question posed in a recent comment on the WordPress and Drupal post. It’s a good question, particularly in the light of recent news about MT’s parent company. I refer to Six Apart dropping Vox, and then being acquired by VideoEgg. (I didn’t post about the acquisition, but former Six Apart evangelist Anil Dash did.)

The most recent post on the official MT blog is a promise that MT is safe: “of course we will continue development and support of this platform that now has a decade of history behind it.” The same post stresses that MT is open source. In that, it is similar to WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Unlike those other platforms, it was not born free/open.

Many of the key points at the MT overview page will be familiar to those made about the other open/free social publishing platforms. MT isn’t just for blogging, it can be used as a more general tool to create websites. It can be used to build community, as well as to publish content.

Movable Type is not 6A’s only product, or even its only platform. There’s also TypePad, “Six Apart’s premier hosted blogging service… [with its] easy to use interface.”

So, that’s my shot at mixing Movable Type into the comparison. It may be more about 6A than about MT, but that seems appropriate at the moment. Comments are welcome, on 6A, on more technical aspects of MT, or on pretty much anything else.

Web services close down all the time. TechCrunch, among the sources I subscribe to, is the most zealous at documenting such shutdowns. It usually uses the term Deadpool.

But it just passed up on the opportunity for headlines such as “Windows Live Spaces to the Deadpool.” Instead, Jason Kincaid’s post has the title Windows Live Outsources Blogging, Migrating 30 Million Users To WordPress.com. Now, this seems to be less abrupt than many closedowns.

Users will be migrated through a process that preserves all of their content, and will automatically redirect visitors who head to their existing Microsoft Live Spaces sites… Microsoft is going to be killing off the existing Spaces product in six months.

So it’s killing off without a deadpool? I’m not sure why it takes TechCrunch most of the article to use a word of death. It’s not usually that delicate, or squeamish.

Anyway, this is big for WordPress.com, where Paul Kim welcomes the new arrivals.

Vox Stops: Six Apart?

September 8, 2010

Six Apart launched Vox in 2006. I don’t think it ever lived up to 6A’s hopes for it to be “home, home, on the web” for a great many. I said so around Vox’s first anniversary. Anil Dash, who was 6A’s chief evangelist at the time, left a Vox-defending comment. At the time I felt that his comment seemed to arise out of duty, rather than out of the passion he often conveyed for 6A’s other offerings.

Now Vox is headed to what TechCrunch call the deadpool. I prefer the term amputation ward, since Vox is a limb, and 6A still has other limbs. That said, 6A went out on a limb in terms of the resources invested in Vox.

I hope that use of the term deadpool won’t soon be appropriate for 6A. It seems rather ominous that, of the social media blogs I subscribe to, only TechCrunch considered the amputation of Vox worth a post in itself. Mashable gave it a mention toward the bottom of a roundup post.

ReadWriteWeb, which used to run on 6A’s Movable Type (but now runs on WordPress) didn’t even mention the silencing of the Vox (or mentioned it so quietly that I didn’t hear). Anil, who left 6A a while ago, didn’t post about it either.

Even though I won’t miss Vox, I find its closing sad.

Look Back At the Last 5 Years in Blogging? That’s not a bad idea, and it’s what Mashable Josh just did. He did it well enough that I won’t summarize his summary, so that you’ll have to read it for yourself.

I will, however, add a couple of points. First, I’d emphasize the rise and fall of blogging more than Josh did. I’d say that, over the last couple of years, blogging has become part of social media, which also includes Facebook, Twitter, etc. Blogging is not currently the social media leader in terms of numbers. The number favour connection, rather than content, in that they show Facebook uber alles. (Yes, I may be exaggerating here.)

Then there’s the matter of the A-list bloggers. I’d say that some of them have chosen A-list-ness over blogging, in that they have turned their blogs into media properties, with most content coming from employees, contractors, or guest bloggers. Pete Cashmore of Mashable is an example. I don’t begrudge such people their semi-retirement from blogging, and I certainly don’t object if their media properties make enough money for comfortable retirement, but I sometimes miss their blogging.

I myself have been blogging since 2004.

Drupal Earworm

May 20, 2010

I didn’t realize until this morning that there is a Drupal song. It is infuriatingly catchy, so don’t listen to it and then claim I didn’t warn you.

I found out about the Drupal song from a post by Dries, who can claim much of the responsibility for Drupal, but can deny any direct responsibility for the song. It is an earworm: a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one’s mind.

The sequences Acquia-Buytaert and Drupal-Earworm compelled me to write the following. Social media addiction compelled me to incorporate links.

A is for Acquia, founded by Dries;
Buytaert’s his last name, pronounce it with ease.
C is for CMS (rather weird term);
Drupal‘s a CMS, subject of worm.
Ear’s where the worm lives,
Forget it I cannot.
Got to stop rhyming,
Halt it here, dammit!

I should note that the above alphabet rhyme, like all of the content at Changing Way, is under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and so can be completed, augmented, adapted, mashed up, etc., as much as you want as long as you attribute.

Drupal and WordPress are often compared. Here’s a summary of my summary of a comparison between the two platforms: WordPress is easier to get started with; Drupal has the advantage when it comes to more complex sites.

That was two years (and two weeks) ago. A lot has happened in those years, and early 2010 is a particularly busy and important time for both communities: Drupal and WordPress. If I had to provide a soundbite (blogbite? tweet?) right now, it would be: Drupal and WordPress are becoming more similar.

The best example of convergence from the Drupal side is Drupal Gardens, the slogan for which is: “Building Drupal websites just got easier.” It was indeed easy to establish a little outpost of the Changing Way empire at Drupal Gardens. ChangingWay.org runs on WordPress.com, of which Gardens is the Drupal counterpart.

Gardens runs on version 7 of Drupal. I love this line from Jacob Singh about developing Gardens on that new version, rather than on version 6: it’s like playing Jenga on a cocaine addled elephant riding a skateboard being jabbed in the ass with a hot poker.

WordPress is also in the midst of a new major release. In fact, this very post is a fringe member of a current and ongoing series about WordPress 3.0. Much of what’s in 3.0 (e.g., multisite) is already in Drupal.

The above account of convergence between Drupal and WordPress is very broad-brush. But it’s also about as long as I like a single post to be.

Comments – especially yours – are excellent for filling in gaps. They are also excellent for asking questions, and for offering me inducements to write more detailed comparisons of Drupal and WordPress and the communities and organizations behind them…

Tumbling Toward Freemium

March 24, 2010

Tumblr is a microblogging service (which I first covered about two years ago). It’s recently become freemium: the basic service remains free of charge; there is a cost for premium features.

I’m very interested the freemium model and how it is implemented. So are others, if the excellent discussion on my recent post on freemium at WordPress.com is anything to go by.

Posts on Tumblr premium themes at Mashable and at TechCrunch are positive. Comments following each of those posts is more mixed, with some indicating a preference for rival microblogging service Posterous.

At Tumblr’s own site, there was of course a blog post about the new themes. “They cost between $9 and $49 (most of which goes right into the pockets of the brilliant designers behind them).” Some theme designers also posted about their new premium Tumblr themes (e.g., WooThemes).

I think that the price is for use of a theme at Tumblr forever (but someone please correct me if it’s on some other basis, such as annual). The Tumblr theme garden now includes a premium plot.

I looked for the Tumblr support forum to gauge the reaction of the Tumblr community. I couldn’t find one, so I looked in the FAQ. No mention there. To my surprise, no mention either of the ad policy, since that’s one of the perennially hot topics at WordPress.com.

I filled out the email support form with my questions. Email support is impressively prominent at the Tumblr site, and the response was equally impressive in terms of speed and of actually answering my questions. There is no official support forum. AdSense is allowed, with a couple of caveats.

In closing, I’ll throw out a more general thought about freemium: or rather, I’ll post it, hope for comments on it, then do some more thinking. There are two types of freemium service.

  1. Here’s a free service. By the way, here are some premium features you can pay for and use if you want.
  2. Here’s a service. You pay to use it. But here’s a very limited version, so that you can try it out for free.

Most freemium services are of the first type. Of firms providing the second type of freemium service, the most prominent is 37signals.

I welcome your comments on this post, on the freemium model, and on how it is used at Tumblr and elsewhere.

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