Finally, Arriving at the Blog is Not Just a Blog

I can’t believe it has been two years since we made the claim that the Blogs at Penn State could be so much more than a blog and should be viewed as a personal content management system. In that time, we’ve made huge progress related to the notion that our blogging environment can and should be used for all sorts of things — most recently we’ve been doing some important work as it relates to blogs as portfolios. Our Faculty Fellow, Carla Zembal-Saul, has been working with Brad Kozlek and others here in ETS to rethink how we frame the portfolio opportunity … what we are coming to is that the win in the portfolio space is associated with the social opportunities the blog platform affords. We’ve been doing our thinking in the open over at the ETS Wiki, so please take a look. We have several pilots taking advantage of this approach this fall, the coolest one being with the Schreyer Honors College … check out Dean Chris Brady’s post seeking volunteers. Some of the scholars’ comments are very encouraging.

At any rate, that is not what I am focusing on here … with the latest release candidate of Moveable Type 4.2, we’ve started testing out the new template set concept they’ve introduced. When we pitched the Blogs at Penn State project I made sweeping promises that we could use this one platform to easily support blogs, portfolios, note taking spaces, personal websites, course pages, and more. Well, with template sets that is coming true. I did a little screencast showing how easy it will be to create personal websites using the MT environment. This has far reaching potential. Take a look at the screencast below and let us know what kinds of templates would be compelling (or watch the QT version). BTW, sorry about the watermark on the screencast … I tried ScreenFlow and have yet to purchase it. A little tough to see, but you can get the idea. Another BTW, the wonderful music in the background was written, composed, and performed by Penn State’s Stephen Hopkins. The track is Ian Grove Blues and is available from Stephen’s Penn State Blog. Steve was an early guest on ETS Talk as well.

6 thoughts on “Finally, Arriving at the Blog is Not Just a Blog

  1. All a blog does is collect words, like all a hammer does is bang nails. You’re limited only by the diversity of thoughts that get connected, like you’re limited only by the designs of houses you build.

    Very exciting work from some very simple tools; and it’s just the beginning.

  2. yeah yeah. I kid. mostly. when you launched blogs@psu, wordpress was nowhere near able to handle what you needed. it’s been pretty cool seeing what you guys have worked up with MT. truly impressive. The cool thing now is that the exact technology really doesn’t matter anymore – just use whatever tool is available, and bend it to do your bidding. That’s a powerful thing.

  3. Ok D, so all snarkiness aside (on my part) … I’ve used WP as my primary publishing platform for years (not as long as some, but for some time now) … I also use it as the primary platform for the main ETS site. I know how to make it do stuff, but most don’t. Maybe WP multiuser allows for “template sets” so everyday casual users can just click and get a fully customizable space — like the website structure demoed … or the dozens of other kinds of spaces people ask for us all the time. Maybe it can, but I haven’t seen it in action.

    I also know that even with the shortcomings of MT, it fits our infrastructure really well. Every one of our projects are built around compromises and the Blogging project is no different. We want to desperately to avoid the “box mentality” when provisioning services — we have real physical space constraints and don’t even get me started on our power and cooling issues. We have killer infrastructure in place to allow faculty, staff, and students with web space and publishing options that work for public, private, groups, courses, and so on that not linking these would be a downstream mistake. I know WP can publish static pages and we investigated it … MT works for us and the excitement we have for it all is centered around affordances — not tools. I am urging people to look more at the the new ground we are attempting to cover and not focus on the feature sets. Sorry if my post or comments came off wrong.

    You are right in that these tools have become so powerful anything can be done with them. I like that there is competition and parity in the personal publishing space. Things are really getting set to heat up

  4. cole, no snarkiness detected. I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, and what I was really trying to point out that it really doesn’t matter what tools are picked anymore. You can pretty much make any of them do anything. So now that you have an enterprise-scale MT system at your beck and call, it should be pretty cool seeing what faculty, students and staff doing with it. It’s a personal content management and publishing system, not a blog.

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