The Web is in Motion via Movable Type Pro

By Anil Dash

Today, we're launching a new application for Movable Type Pro, called Motion. If you're just looking for the headline to put on your blog, you can think of it this way:

  • Microblogging like Pownce or Tumblr or Twitter plus
  • Activity streams like FriendFeed or Plaxo Pulse plus
  • Really easy OpenID sign in support for commenters, including both Google Accounts and Facebook Connect

And Motion is free with your license for Movable Type Pro. (MT Pro is free for bloggers, and very affordable for businesses.)

That's the short version. But the vision of Motion is something we've been working on for a long time, well before we acquired Pownce or before the tech blogosphere started talking about Google Friend Connect vs. Facebook Connect. So, we'd like to outline some of the guiding principles that informed our creation of Motion, as a starting point to the conversation about where social applications in general are headed.

The biggest social network is the Internet itself.


Outside of the tech geek bubble, regular people wonder if they should choose Facebook or MySpace to promote their companies, or if they should use Flickr or SmugMug to share their photos. The way people talk about these services, average users think they have to choose between different services when they want to connect with other people on the web. We think that's broken, like choosing between NBC and ABC and CBS. Why not pick and choose the best of each different network?

Open standards will win; Old timers will remember when we could only email other people using the same service, like AOL or CompuServe. Then open standards for email came along, and suddenly we could email anybody we wanted to.

We have had to choose between social networks because there weren't open standards to connect them. So at Six Apart, we invented OpenID and Action Streams. Motion's core abilities are built around these open standards.

Today’s mainstream social networks are like yesterday’s mainstream media.

We have huge respect for the giant social networks like Facebook and MySpace and even the platforms of Google and Yahoo! and AOL. That's why we're proud to call them partners. But we've learned from working with the biggest mainstream media companies in the world that the best thing for the medium is if independent bloggers and publishers are around to collaborate, curate and, yes, compete with the giant networks.

Just as thousands of independent publishers have sprung up to complement the mainstream media networks, thousands of independent social networks will spring up to complement mainstream social networks. Motion lets you run your own network on your own site under your own control, granting you independence in the same way that blogging gave us a measure of independence from traditional media.

Reveal the community you already have.

No matter how small your brand is, or how unique your hobby is, there's a community for it on the web. But right now, it's spread out across dozens of different websites. Maybe some people who share your passion are sharing links about it on Delicious, and others are posting photos about it on Flickr.

Every tag can be a community. We've built Motion to let you aggregate actions from your choice of dozens of supported social networking and sharing services.

Your social network belongs under your control.

Motion is built on Movable Type, which means you run it on your own web server, under your own control. We provide professional support for the platform, and many partners are lining up to provide services like design and development and deployment for your Motion site. But ultimately, by running your social network on your own site, you keep ownership of your data and you can control the branding and presentation of your community. If you're a publisher, you can even have your own advertising on your Motion site, and our Six Apart Media team can help you make money with your community.

Your community should start with half a billion members.

It's not enough to drive people to your community. One of the biggest obstacles to participating in a social networking site can be getting users to register. In Motion, anyone can sign in to comment or vote on a post using their existing OpenID login or account from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, and many more providers.

Membership still has its privileges: Full rights to post with the slick new microblogging interface are reserved for registered members of your Motion site. We think this strikes a nice balance between letting anyone on the web participate in your site while providing a compelling benefit to motivate people to sign up.

There are lots of other applications out there with great features for building a social network. But with those tools, you're starting from scratch with an empty community with no members and no content, trying to turn a ghost town into a metropolis.

With Motion, Action Streams make sure your new community is pre-populated with content, and OpenID makes sure nobody has to fill out a registration form just to vote for an item that they like.

The web is in Motion.

Finally, Motion is an effort that's designed to incorporate our partners and peers around the web. We've provided documentation so that anybody who runs a web service or social networking site can make sure there's an Action Stream to get connected to Motion. And we'll be launching with the support of a broad range of partners offering their services to anyone who wants to get started with Motion.

There is a lot more to come, but you can get started by checking out the Motion page, or by signing up for a free demo.

This is the vision we've laid out for Motion, but it's obviously a new idea and significantly different from what the has come before: Did we get it right? Let us know what you think.