Connect as a Blogging Tool

Since we started down this road last year launching Connect to go with the IdeaFactory, one common ask has been blogs.

Blogs are a cornerstone of Web 2.0, allowing anyone to publish content and anyone to participate. We discussed very early on whether we should provide a blogging platform, like multi-user WordPress or MoveableType, for internal people to use.

Ultimately, we decided against this because: 1) there were already a few instances of blogging software hosted inside the firewall and 2) our efforts were focused on people as the platform, making the social network more applicable.

But we did get lots of requests to add blogs, and we even added a Blogs tab to original Connect as a teaser.

Last week, Rich deployed a WYSIWYG editor to Connect, very similar to the one WordPress offers. We had one before on the original Connect, but the Mix code line has never had one. I’ve wanted this for a while for Mix; since we don’t do file management (yet), a stopgap way to support video and other media is through embeds.

It occurred to me today that Connect is now a viable alternative as a blogging platform, with each group being a separate blog, capable of supporting multiple authors.

This isn’t new. It’s been that way since we launched Mix, but adding the editor really emphasizes the power of using a group to blog. We all know blogs are a great way to have a conversation and collaborate around a topic. One tough aspect of blogging is building an audience.

Groups makes this easier by allowing invites, or if you have a group already, you could just start publishing posts.

One thing Sagar did before he left was push the use of blogs for communication. Everyone complains about too much email, zombie replies to all, and spam. Blogs make the information consumable in a more asynchronous way, through the blog itself or through RSS.

There are lots of good use cases for blogs inside the firewall:

  • Sharing interesting information among your team.
  • Project managing a distributed team.
  • Broadcasting content to a group and requesting feedback.
  • Compiling status reports.

And of course, sharing non-work related, fun stuff with colleagues who have the same interests.

So, even though it wasn’t our intention to build a blogging platform, Connect has evolved into one by accident.

Here comes a teaser. We’ve been working with the team that host the MoveableType instance that hosts the Oracle blogs, a very talented bunch in APAC, on OpenSocial apps for quite some time. Connect is currently enabled as an OpenSocial container, and once we work out the UI pieces, we’ll be launching an OpenSocial apps repository.

Jesse Hu, whom we’re very lucky to have working with us, has built several OpenSocial apps for this repository, including a blogging app that integrates with the MoveableType instance. I think this app will allow people with MT blogs to post and manage posts from within Connect.

More on this to come.



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