Interface Matters. Lowering the Barrier of Entry to Blogging
By Eric Lin, Wed Mar 10 00:15:00 GMT 2004

It's easy to blog when all you have to do is go about your daily routine. Take pictures, text your friends, record voices- it's all worth blogging, and about to get easier to do.

Moblogging, or weblogging from a mobile device, is one of the big buzzwords in wireless business. A new moblog portal is announced at least once a month, with each one claiming to be more feature rich or easier to use or just cooler than the one before it. Moblogging has been a hit with the digerati and the younger generations- the people who were already entrenched in PC-based weblogging and have become the content producers of the Web. It was an obvious advancement for these groups- they already blogged, now they could do it from virtually anywhere.

Despite how easy moblogging sites claim they are to use, very few people actually use them, or at least are active bloggers. Part of the problem is that despite claims, the blogs are often difficult to set up. The other problem is that many people don't know what to blog or don't think they have anything worth blogging. They don't realize there's a treasure chest in every cameraphone picture they take, every SMS they receive.

Imagine if there was no work in moblogging. If the content you created and received on your mobile phone every day was downloaded for you and assembled into a diary. Nokia is rumored to have an application for Windows PCs that does just this. It takes SMS, MMS, Photos, and notes from new series 60 handsets and assembles them into a diary. The program, called Lifeblog according to an exclusive on Online Blog, doesn't actually have an online component yet, but it sounds as though developers can easily create conduits for the application to post to various blogging applications. (Disclaimer: The Feature is owned and operated by Nokia. That relationship does not alter the fact that reports of Lifeblog are still a rumor, even to us.)

Microsoft research has developed a number of projects for storing and accessing the digital bits from a person's life: documents, emails, IM conversations, multimedia and the like as a form of diary, scrapbook, and C.V. all in one. The idea is the same as Lifeblog- people shouldn't have to create separate moderated entries for a journal, when all the unmoderated data from a person's life is just sitting there, on their PCs, their phones, and other digital devices. Recently Microsoft Research's newest creation, a digital camera worn like a necklace that automatically snaps up to 2000 pictures per day, was shown off to the press. The device, called SenseCam, reacts to changes in light, sound, and even physical data like heart rate to take pictures at what are probably more interesting moments in the wearer's life. Of course very few MS Research projects ever make it to market, but it validates the theory.

Instead of creating more blogging applications, it's up to programmers and operators to create blogging devices, if we want to turn the millions of mobile device users into content creators. By allowing users to easily add common media from their daily lives to a weblog, operators will instantly create more mobile content for other users to access. As smartphones become more common, creating high quality moblogging devices is as simple as writing a good application that takes elements from the handset and transfers it to a weblog automatically, or asks the user to check off items to send. It sounds like it's time for us all to go reread some Donald Norman books, the Invisible Computer is a good start.