Seeing the maintenance of a Movable Type publishing infrastructure as the first responsibility in a job description shows the transformation that's happened. We've come a long way from "I hope the new IT hire knows a little bit of HTML, too." And whether you're interested in hanging out with scientist at AIBS, or working for a major media company, or bootstrapping an up-and-coming new blog network, we're working to make sure that having "Experience with Movable Type" on your resume is something that distinguishes you from the rest of the field.
- Maintaining and extending several Movable Type and PHP-based Web sites featuring science and biology-oriented content
- Managing a junior staff member who's primary foci are end-user support for a staff of 15-30 and Web site maintenance
- Serving as IT Department liaison to Department Managers (3-5) in the headquarters office, working to understand needs, propose effective solutions, arrive at consensus, and implement
- Manage (and assist with management of) relationships/contracts with vendors supporting technology infrastructure for the headquarters office, and vendors assisting with technology project implementation
- Assuming responsibility for technology infrastructure maintenance and growth for non-IT staff
On top of general OpenID support, MT4 lets you add in service-specific plugins to provide even smoother integration between third-party OpenID-enabled services and your MT-powered site. Of course Movable Type 4 also provides its own built-in authentication service, if you choose. But some of the coolest options are the ones from other sites -- out of the box, MT4 has authentication integration for:
- Movable Type's built-in registration
- Generic OpenID
- TypeKey (includes all TypePad users)
We're always happy to see the industry embrace open standards, and as OpenID was first incubated at Six Apart, we're especially proud to have the first professional blogging system that's incorporated OpenID natively into the platform. We'll be watching carefully to see how you use OpenID on your sites, and expanding our support even further in the future.
We’ve got a lot of different audiences for our blogging tools at Six Apart, and Movable Type might have the broadest of them all — it bridges everything from individual hackers running MT on their laptops to giant corporations running thousands of blogs on their intranets.
To the original blogging community that we come from, though, we get a lot of weird looks when we talk about how exciting it is to work on business and enterprise blogging. There are a lot of variations on the question, but basically the thing people want to know is, “Why do you guys care about business blogs so much?”
- Blogs are a better tool for the job for a lot of business communications.
- Using blogs at work will help people discover uses for blogs in the rest of their lives.
- Nobody else can do it, and we can’t afford to leave it up to companies that don’t care about blogging.
The longer answer is, we’re immensely greedy monsters! No, no, that’s not right — the truth is a lot simpler: If it’s done right, making blogs work for businesses helps get more people blogging (that’s our mission, remember?), and it makes a day at work just a little bit more pleasant for a lot of people.
Using the tools they give you
Because while those of us who work on our own or for smaller companies can say “Well, I want to work on a Mac.” or “I’m only going to use Firefox.” or “I’m only going to use open source applications.” (and most of us at Six Apart fall into those camps), most non-technical people not only don’t have that option, they don’t care enough to find out how to do that stuff. You use what your boss tells you to, and even if you have other preferences, they’re not worth the fight when you’re just trying to get your job done.
So, instead of having to use some horrible “Groupware Knowledge Management Content Solution Server” thing, we think people should be able to use real blogs from a company that actually cares about blogging. And to do that, we have to make blogging tools feel “safe” to bosses and CIOs and CTOs and IT departments and other offices full of people whose job it is to say “no” to anything too new or unproven.
As a result, we get a little bit of skepticism on both sides. People who are zealots, who see blogging as some kind of religion, say it can’t possibly be “real” blogging if it’s integrated with enterprise software or portals or Microsoft Office or things like that. And conservative technologists who want to manage risk in a global business say it can’t possibly be a reliable business tool if it comes from a community of hackers and idealists and, well, troublemakers.
We think we’ve reached a good compromise if both sides are a little bit skeptical, but still willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Updating web pages is still pretty damn difficult
Outside of the blogosphere’s echo chamber, most people who want to publish a page on their intranet at work are still stuck asking a geek down the hall to make the changes, and then waiting 3 weeks for it to happen, and another 3 weeks for the fixes for the mistakes in the first update. Those people deserve a tool as powerful and simple as blogs, if only to help preserve their sanity. And just maybe, some of those people will start to think “Hey, there really is something interesting about blogging.”
For the normal people, the ones who kind of maybe have heard of blogs, but certainly haven’t tried them out yet themselves, discovering blogging as part of work will lead them to thinking about how blogs can change every part of their life. It’s just like the millions of people who first used a web browser as part of their job, or the people who had an email address at work or school before they ever signed up for Hotmail or Gmail.
An obligation to the community
There’s one final point that’s probably worth mentioning: We bring blogs to businesses of every size because nobody else can. That’s not bragging — it’s just a reflection of how new this medium (still!) is. The giant multi-billion-dollar technology companies don’t care about blogging, so they aren’t going to spend time and effort to educate people about it. (Especially if it comes at the expense of Groupware Knowledge Management Content Solution Server.)
And individuals who work with blogs don’t have the resources to educate companies on a global scale about the potential of blogging, or to build up a sales and support team to back up business customers, or to partner with the Oracles and HPs and Intels of the world. We’ve done all of these things, to show businesses that blogs are credible business tools.
It’s probably an obvious point, but making blogs business-ready isn’t sexy work. Almost no coders think “Man, I can’t wait to go home and hack on middleware integration this weekend!” But bringing blogging to a bigger audience, an audience that’s still skeptical of this medium, and unfamiliar with its potential, takes exactly that kind of hard, unsexy work. As a company founded by bloggers, that’s benefited so much from blogging, we frankly felt it was our responsibility to help as many other people and companies benefit as possible. So that’s why we do it. We might not always get geek cred from cynical, jaded bloggers for it, but there are a couple hundred million other people out there who might see the benefits. And that’s pretty fantastic.
The fact is, blogs are a better, cheaper tool for businesses to use for many types of communication. But they’re also still a young tool that most companies haven’t even gotten a moment’s thought from most businesses yet. We think our community can change that, and we hope this gives you a little bit better understanding of why it’s important that all of us succeed in the effort.
Back in January, we praised Time for really embracing blogs as a key part of their redesigned website. The new collection of blogs are all hosted on TypePad Business Class or powered by Movable Type, and there’s also a great new blog that covers all the areas that are in Time’s domain, called The Ag.
Great sites like this don’t just happen — they come into being with the help of members of Six Apart’s Professional Network. In this case, Time turned to the expertise of a longtime Movable Type stalwart, Chad Everett of Everitz Consulting.
Now that the blog’s been up and running successfully for a while, we thought we’d ask Chad some questions about how the site came into being.
6A: How did you first find out that Time was looking to redo their blogs?
EC: I’ve been working with Time since November of 2005 on a variety of projects. That came from a referral via Six Apart, to work on the redesign of Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Dish” blog when he moved over to TypePad Business Class (and to Time). I don’t think that he’s part of Time any longer, however - it looks like he left earlier in February to move to The Atlantic - but he still uses the design that I implemented, for the most part :).
6A: And which blogs specifically did you work on for the Time team?
EC: In a variety of capacities, I’ve worked on: Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, The Global Health Blog, The Allen Report, Real Clear Politics and of course The Ag. Though not strictly blogs, I’ve done some other work for Time, including their White House Photo of the Day site and an implementation of a new design for their various search results pages.
6A: Which platforms were they using for their blogs? Did your skills transfer between the hosted TypePad blogs and the Movable Type-powered blogs they hosted themselves?
EC: What is perhaps most interesting is that when we started, all of their blogs - of which I am aware - were on the TypePad platform. While the hosted platform offered some nice features, it didn’t allow others, so before too long, we ended up implementing Movable Type as well. Now, the pendulum has shifted, with only the “Global Health” blog still existing on TypePad (Andrew Sullivan is as well, but he is with someone else now). It’s a big change. Plus, even more blogs are on the Movable Type platform. The skills transferred easily between Movable Type and TypePad, because the templates are nearly identical - there are only a few tags that don’t transfer between the two platforms, which made moving a breeze, and Time seemed to appreciate how quickly things went. The hardest thing was getting the right web host for the new platform. Once that was in place, getting things rolled out took no time at all. In fact, we were able to mostly copy the existing templates for two blogs that we were getting ready to roll out on TypePad, and they were up and running quickly.
6A: What were the biggest surprises of working on the project?
EC: The biggest surprise was that, even though this was probably the largest project - at least in terms of marketing/impact - it was very likely the smallest in terms of how long it took us to scope it and get it out the door. All of the knowledge that we had gained to this point allowed us to get The Ag up and running very quickly. While the first project we did isn’t exactly the same, because it was more of a one-off project, it took much longer to put together. But The Ag was a much faster turnaround, and we were really able to leverage the knowledge that we had been building. So in turn it was a huge return on the knowledge we had built.
6A: Was it nice working on a site where everybody knows the company you’re working for?
EC: Though working for Time is nice, I don’t know that it ultimately matters much. I’m more like the Wizard of Oz, the guy behind the curtain, so it doesn’t really matter that much which project I’m working on at the time. The interface looks the same to me whether it’s a large multinational or a mom-and-pop, so it ultimately isn’t all that important in the end.
6A: How has being in the Six Apart Professional Network helped you with your work, if at all?
EC: Being in ProNet helps on two fronts. One is that referrals like this can make a difference. Here is a job that originally came in well over a year ago, and there is still income being generated from it, because the lead was a solid one. The other is that it provides a group of generally like-minded individuals where you can share success stories and help to foster a community of support for one another.
The great news is, Everitz Consulting isn’t just for newsmagazines that are a household name — they work with regular bloggers to help them get their sites running perfectly, too. Thanks to Chad for taking the time to talk to us, and for being part of the community for so long, including contributing many popular plugins that Movable Type bloggers use every day. Be sure to check out the Everitz Consulting to find out more about their work.
It’s almost a habit — when we talk about people who use Movable Type, we say “the Movable Type community.” And people who don’t spend a lot of time surfing the web exploring blogs might scoff: “If everybody who uses software makes up a community, how come I never hear about the Norton Anti-Virus community?”
So it’s worth sharing just one of the many stories that makes the Movable Type community something special. Meet Arvind Satyanarayan. He’s the publisher of Movalog, the blog for all things Movable Type, and the creator of a number of the most popular Movable Type plugins in the world, including Privacy, his newest effort, and stalwarts such as Blogroll, LivePreview, EnhancedEntryEditing. Arvind’s also been a key driver behind efforts like the The Style Contest and tools like The Style Generator.
And Arvind is 17 years old, living in the United Arab Emirates.
Now here’s the thing — every tech community has its token Young Person. You can point to a standout whiz kid who does something cool with software and everybody says “aww, that’s so cute!” But this is where the Movable Type community takes that tech cliché and turns it into something really special.
Because, with the help of the rest of the community, Arvind’s been able to raise his skills to the next level. To tell the truth, when Arvind started IMing me a few years ago, I guessed he was just another kid who was maybe a Ben Trott fanboy and basically thought “That’s nice, but we’re pretty busy.” But through the diligent support of people on our team like our
senior software engineer lead MT gearhead Brad Choate, Arvind’s picked up some pretty strong technical chops.
More to the point, the community outside Six Apart has been instrumental as well. Elise Bauer, the recipe maven responsible for Simply Recipes created the seminal Learning Movable Type site years ago, but many of the most popular and valuable tutorials on the site were created as a collaboration with Arvind.
All around the world
So what you see is Elise, a veteran of Silicon Valley who lives in California and maintains a massively popular blog, collaborating with a kid in the U.A.E. to educate an entire globe of bloggers about what’s possible.
It doesn’t end there. When Arvind needed an endorsement for his college applications, our Product Manager Byrne Reese led the charge. The Style Contest was an effort by many in the community, but a lot of the key collaboration happened between Arvind, Elise, and noted ProNet community member Jesse Gardner, who’s based in Pennsylvania. People all over the world have partnered with Arvind to make Movable Type do things we’d never even imagined.
And that support has helped Arvind take it to the next level. Customers for his plugins include some of the biggest companies in the world — think of some of the largest tech companies who are blogging, and you’ll probably see Arvind’s work behind the scenes. We’re also thrilled to announce that Arvind is the newest intern at Six Apart, helping with (what else!) improving our community efforts around the Movable Type plugin directory and our Professional Network.
That’s just part of the story, and of course we haven’t even gotten into dozens of examples of other work Arvind’s done, or other community members who’ve been similarly impressive and inspiring to us. But we thought one story of one Movable Type blogger going from “that kid in Dubai who IMs us in the middle of the night” to a valued member of the team shows what our community is all about.
After our post the other day about blogging with Office 2007 and Movable Type Enterprise, we got some great conversations started about what it takes to help businesses start blogs in general.
One of the most exciting was Isabel Wang’s column at Web Host Industry Review, entitled “Six Apart: We Won’t Be Happy Until Every Company Can Have a Blog” It’s true! And Isabel’s one of the smartest thinkers in the web hosting business, so she offers some really useful insights for web hosts. Smart thinking always begets intelligent conversation, as evidenced by the first comment, in which John McKown outlines the challenge nicely:
- Most people that aren’t techies don’t see the value in blogging yet. They see it is as a fad and a bit of a waste of their time.
- Many businesses still see blogs as a potential liability.
- Many laypeople that I meet think that a blog is too large of a commitment for their time to keep a blog up.
- Many people hear FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) spread by the mass media about blogs, and they assume that bloggers are people with too much time on their hands.
And those are exactly the same concerns and fears that we hear while explaining blogs to companies. Combine that with some current bloggers’ unwillingness to embrace new kinds of blogging (“Blogging from Office? That’s lame!”) and we’ve all got our work cut out for us.
I talk a little bit about that work over on the E-consultancy site. In the interview, I was asked a bit about ” Why should a small business consider devoting precious resources to a blog, rather than other web marketing tools…?” and was pretty pleased with how the answer turned out:
The best reason for a small business to create and maintain a blog is because it’s the most cost-effective method of maintaining a relationship with important audiences like customers, potential customers, partners, or employees. A blog doesn’t need to be run in place of other tools - it can easily complement them. For example, many companies post the content from their email newsletters on their blogs, making the most of the content while also allowing for a level of interactivity and discoverability that email alone doesn’t provide.
We’re excited that such a great conversation has started around what it’s going to take to get every business blogging. What we’re clear about so far is that we need to tell more stories of success, and spend less time hyping scare stories or worrying about whether people are blogging the “right” way. Let’s get ‘em all started, and then help improve those business blogs once they’re up and running.
Today, Microsoft is making some of their biggest announcements ever -- if you're even remotely interested in technology news, you're going to hear about the launch of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. But what you might not know is that these new milestones mark the first time that blogging can really be integrated between Movable Type Enterprise and two of the most popular software platforms in the world.
To be honest, Windows and Office aren't always known for being the most cutting-edge platforms. But at Six Apart, we've got some very cool demos about ways that you can connect these decades-old platforms to the latest innovations in blogging. And you might be surprised to see that even some people who work at Microsoft are using these tools themselves.
Some background: A year ago, we showed off some cool ideas about blogging with Office at the MIX06 conference that Microsoft held in Las Vegas. (There's even video online -- just skip past the showgirl and the Elvis impersonator.) Now the technology demo we showed off last year is something that you can actually deploy.
You see, we're not gonna be happy until every company can have a blog. To get everybody using blogs at work, we have to connect with the tools people are already using. Some of that's already happened -- you can use Movable Type Enterprise with your Oracle database or build templates in Adobe's Dreamweaver. But the big Kahuna of office apps is Office. And Office 2007 is surprisingly good, so it makes it even more attractive to plug it in to the power of blogs.
Okay, enough talk. Let's see what blogging with MT Enterprise and Office 2007 looks like:
- Post to your Movable Type blog right from Microsoft Word. How well does this work? You're reading a post created in Word 2007 right now.
- Publish your Movable Type blog posts in Microsoft Word format. We've been talking about this idea for years, but imagine the potential â€“ if you've got a guy in your office who is afraid of blogs but just wants to get his information delivered on his desk in the format he's used to, now you can do that. What about just publishing each category archive as a Word document, so you can have a single file with all the information about that topic?
- Support for feeds in Outlook 2007. There are tons of things you can do with feeds that get more powerful in Outlook â€“ every tag has its own feed in MT Enterprise, and of course every blog does, too. But you can make feeds across all the blogs in your system, so you can do cool things like having every post tagged â€œimportantâ€ go into a single folder in Outlook, where you can make a macro to turn them into to-dos.
- And lots more. There's all kinds of other opportunities with the new Microsoft platforms. OpenSearch support in IE7 lets you automatically perform searches of your intranet blogs right in your browser. XML-based formats for PowerPoint and Excel mean you can actually pull in live data from your blogs into presentations or spreadsheets. And we're sure the best stuff hasn't even been thought of yet.
More of this kind of integration is on the way; Movable Type Enterprise already integrates with platforms like Microsoft's SQL Server. But we wanted to make sure that, amidst all the other news of the day, nobody misses the fact that two of the most popular software platforms around are finally ready for business when it comes to blogs.
Because lots of high-profile blogs are full of strong opinions and lively debates, people who are less familiar with blogging sometimes worry if they can trust the information they discover on blogs. That’s an inconvenience if you’re an individual blogger, but it’s a serious problem if you’re in the business of helping companies protect their infrastructure and data.
And protection is exactly Symantec’s business. Whether it’s online fraud, spam, or other security risks, Symantec has been leading the conversation for as long as there’s been a need to secure technology. Today, leading a conversation means having a blog, and that’s where the Movable Type-powered Security Response Weblog comes in.
It’s not enough to merely share information about emerging threats, or to detail how Symantec is providing its customers with the tools they need to defend themselves or to better manage their technology deployments. As a voice of the company itself, Symantec’s Security Response blog has to make customers feel as if they can trust the information the blog provides. Symantec achieves this goal with a few simple techniques…
It’s only been two days since we announced SuiteTwo along with a world-class team of partners led by Intel, but the response has been fantastic. We thought we’d collect some highlights, offer a first glimpse at what some parts of the SuiteTwo experience will look like, and offer more details on the benefits of the suite.
Usually, we start talking about a project first on our blogs, and focus on the audience we can reach through word of mouth in the blogosphere. But doing a traditional-style press conference with a number of partners and people wearing nice suits was an interesting change of pace, and it had a more important goal: We really want to get businesses of all sizes using these technologies, so we were happy to get to use more old-school methods of communication to try to reach the people who don’t know about the business value of blogs, wikis, and feeds yet.
A lot of that new audience reads traditional newspapers and magazines, either online or in print. There seems to be a really positive reaction so far, so we wanted to share some of them with you to help explain the SuiteTwo story a little more fully.
BusinessWeek offered a great look at the strengths of the suite:
More than one-third of businesses already use some form of the interactive or user-generated technologies, such as blogging, that get grouped under the Web 2.0 heading, according to Intel’s internal studies. Even companies that aren’t embracing Web 2.0 are nevertheless using what [Intel Capital manager Rob] Rueckert calls precursorsâ€”such tools as group e-mails and newsletters. “Most of what is being done by blogging and wikis is really just being done by e-mail now,” says Rueckert. “This gives you a central, searchable repository for informationâ€¦. These tools really do help lower costs and increase collaboration.”
Dana Gardner at ZDNet offers an analysis that starts with the strengths of SuiteTwo:
The announcement of SuiteTwo at the Web 2.0 Summit is at once fascinating and â€¦ obvious. Just as companies adjusted 10 years ago to relating to their customers, prospects, and partners anew through static Web sites and hyperlinks, they are now embarking on a grander journey of interacting with them through shared, collaborative, publish-and-subscribe knowledge-munging activities.
From PC Magazine:
Intel is calling SuiteTwo their “fundamental shift toward open, flexible, and participatory computing models.” The companies on board are Six Apart and Movable Type, both blogging software companies, Socialtext, a wiki company, and NewsGator and SimpleFeed RSS feed technology companies. With login to a single page, users can access all of these functions as if they were one holistic service.
CNET’s News.Com captures a key quote from our own CEO, Barak Berkowitz:
[E]xecutives from the companies represented in SuiteTwo said that distribution will help make Web 2.0 technologies more pervasive in businesses. “For enterprises, this is a critical moment. The enterprise finally gets Web 2.0,” said Barak Berkowitz, CEO of social-networking software provider Six Apart, which introduced an enterprise product this year. “RSS lets (businesses) track all sorts of things in their organizations.”
And Reuters’ Eric Auchard offers perhaps the most succinct summary of the benefits of SuiteTwo:
The Intel partnership offers small businesses and work groups inside larger companies what amounts to “Web 2.0 in a box,” by remaking internal and external communication systems to encourage collaboration. Instead of working separately and relying on e-mail to stay connected, these tools encourage groups of office workers to use the latest Web publishing tools to share what they know in both private and public conversations over the Web.
InformationWeek’s Thomas Claburn offers up a good look at the business side of the offering:
Intel’s Software and Solutions Group will make the suite available to its partners and resellers, including Dell, Ingram Micro, NEC, and Tech Data, through what the company calls the Intel Channel Marketplace later this month.
There are countless more stories in various news outlets, and of course people who are already blogging are weighing in across the net. But perhaps the most important result, for those of us who love blogs and their potential, is that a whole new wave of people will start to discover what blogs, wikis, and feeds can do for business.