Many of us at Six Apart are really big technology geeks, so some of the biggest indirect influences on our work are the endless inventions of Xerox’s famous Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC. PARC is credited with inventing technologies such as laser printers, Ethernet, the graphical user interface, and many more. Naturally, they’re at the forefront of using new technologies like blogs as well.
The best public example of their embrace of blogging is the Movable Type-powered PlayOn blog from the PARC team researching the social impacts of massively multiplayer online games.
The work the PlayOn team does in understanding community, social architecture, interactions and culture makes them a natural fit for participating in the blogosphere, where conversation is focused around feedback and interaction. A look at the profiles of the blog’s authors shows a very diverse list of influences and experiences have informed their current work. It’s eye-opening to see how their research into games that seem simple at first glance can reveal some very telling information about how people relate to each other in general, especially online.
Of course, you don’t need to be an expert researcher to get started with Movable Type. It’s easy to collect feedback just by using the built-in commenting features or by tracking who links to your blog. And once you’ve discovered some insights into your own community, you can easily document your own findings and research, whether it’s simple updates to a project or inventing the Next Big Thing like the team at PARC.