I went to the Weblogger Interest Group meeting yesterday. I got off the Caltrain early in Mountain View, Tracey [my wife] was waiting for me, and we walked to the Dana Street Cafe.
I'm new to this whole thing, and so I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be geeky? ("But *you* are geeky!" says Tracey) Would it be dull? Would anyone else show up? Would I appear ignorant? ("What's a Scoble?")
So, we showed up, ordered some simple food items (soup, a quiche-like thing and 2 cups of tea) and sat down to see what happened. It became obvious after a little while who belonged to the Interest Group and who didn't. The people walking around with laptops and laying extension cords while others setup wireless Internet connections and an In-Focus digital projector can safely be assumed to be part of the group. Others who looked confused by the sudden display of technology and did quick hunched-over runs through the projector beam were decidedly not part of the group.
By about 7:10PM the group of around 15 people dominated the cafe, speaking calmly but with volume to each other over the roar of milk being steamed and the persistent background music. We did intros, said our software of choice (Manila and Radio for me right now), and then had an informal chat about what blogging means to us. I didn't talk much. Just listened. Tried to catch names and URLs, see if I recognized any, and generally see where people were coming from.
After a little while, Evan (of Blogger fame -- but I didn't know this yet) started to do a presentation on Blogger Pro, the 'pay' version of the Blogger app. I'd heard of Blogger, had read some Blogger weblogs, but had never seen their publishing interface before. I was very impressed. The interface was attractive, approachable, intuitive, completely browser-based, adequately documented and apparently easy to navigate. They had what looked like an IE 'bar' (like the Google and Yahoo bars) but branded with the Blogger logo, that allowed easy navigation and configuration of one's weblog. I later found out it was just DHTML cleverly disguised as an IE-bar, which is even cooler though since it doesn't require any "Click the yes button" component install.
I think I'll look more into Blogger. I chose Manila not because I was totally informed, but more because it was the only blogging app I knew about. I'm curious about how extensible Blogger is. Can you run it on your own host? Are there macros? Can I stream my weblog to another host? (more than one host?) Is the non-PRO version free? etc etc. Will have to assign a block of time to investigate all that...
After the presentation we went to the Tied House, a few blocks away, and had some beers and food. I met some great people and had a really good time.
Who was there? Well, I didn't manage to get everybody's name, but of those I did, I also tried to get the URL of one or more of their weblogs. Here's my somewhat incomplete list of Weblog Interest Group attendees. Click on their name to view their weblog.
Talk about an inspiring set of weblogs! These blow me away. Full of details and links to more details with still more links to MORE details... These weblogs are literally living, breathing, online versions of their authors.
I originally thought that a weblog was like an online journal. Some links. Some text. A place to vent. A place to open up. But now I think they can be more than that. I think they can become the mind-dump of their authors. Give them enough complexity and they gain consciousness. Start sending out feelers and pulling people in. I wonder if there are any cases of people dying but their weblog living on? Getting updated each day? Links being added?
Ok. That's my spooky thought for today. I'm writing this in UltraEdit so that I don't have to deal with the browser crapping out on me (plus I can save every 5 seconds). Almost time to post it.
If you haven't been to a weblog interest group meeting, and think you might be interested (and are actually reading my blog) then go to the next one. Good inspiring people doing some cool things with some cool technology.
I just have to comment that Scoble looks almost exactly like Philip Seymour Hoffman from such movies as Almost Famous, Magnolia and Happiness. Kinda eerie actually. I wonder if he has heard that before?