The Free Publishing Platforms
The most popular places to host free blog length content right now that I visit regularly:
Others Publishing Platforms
I've seen DeWitt Clinton knock out some dynamite posts on Google Buzz. My Wordpress posts are auto fed into Google Buzz where they are quite readable, but they don't look as cool (no styling) as they do on my site and have none of the extra info pages.
I've also read some excellent content from John Blossom on Google Wave, but large waves or syncronizing many waves is painfully slow.
Besides writing platforms there are numerous types of other creative content platforms: Wikis, photos, music, drawings both digital and free hand.
From my biased vantage point (I regularly use both services), Tumblr and Wordpress appear to have the corner on community designers and theme crafters. There are folks that make a living selling custom themes, and I expect professional designers to sell both Wordpress and Tumblr themes side by side.
Users of the free services will have to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty if they want to create custom designs (competitive opening for a new blog service?). There's still no browser based GUI editor for design that I've seen*. I sense value in such a visual web based tool. When tweaking my blog I rely on Firebug to identify the names of specific CSS blocks/classes so I can manually edit the style sheet and edit and reupload image elements. Not everyone is comfortable with that format for design work, and it's troublesome.
Real Time Content & Emerging Platforms
A continual stream of real time content is the result of algorithms processing dynamic updates, or content creators donating their creations to specific services that they feel add value in other ways (simplifying their marketing or publishing efforts).
Platforms have features which act as magnets to content creators:
- Ease of entry: Simplicity is the key to unlocking the imagination of visitors. A smooth learning curve and accessibility to both dedicated hackers and casual stylists is what users like myself dream of
- Hackability: (open API/standards) More extensible (hackable) software gains developer trust^
- Open source: Opening platform source is a powerful signal that your platform is worth developing for
- Monetization Potential: as important as the above benefits of a platform are, monetization is what transforms the hobby cycle into life changing professions. When a content creator is rewarded with both meaningful satisfaction and income from fans and customers something extraordinary happens. A new ecosystem for business has opened up lifestyles that were historically reserved for a few rare artists. Platforms should strive to be the brush and canvas for the imagination of modern content creators
*= There are several desktop applications for web design but most create bloated code and aren't easily integrated into free web publishing sites. I sent out an email earlier this morning in an ongoing discussion with Ronen about a form of social web platform that we would both very much enjoy & contribute to.
^= Developer trust is king in the land of choices. It turns into community improvements/bug fixes, and customization. If the platform is reproduceable it's even more inviting to new content creators and businesses. If hobbyists can improve and own a piece of the platform (make a living with their own servers, profiting with their own addons) it's a symbiotic relationship the strengthens the core and edges.
Ps. My email chat group friend Elias Amaral has begun blogging and I'm sure he'd welcome some new visitors and comments. So far he's covered some nifty low level operating system utilities. I will submit a post to HackerNews as his writing fits well into their topics.