The state of the blog
WtW: What else do you see yourselves doing with the technology, apart from growing capacity?
EW: Beyond simple UI enhancements and power features, I'm interested in two general areas:
1) Utilizing the Network. That is, taking Blogger beyond a simple tool that offers an alternative to putting your own database and script behind your site, to taking advantage of the fact that I have thousands of sites being published through a central system on a constant basis.
I.e., doing things along the lines of distributed community and content aggregation to help readers find more content they're interested in, writers find more of the natural audience for their content, and people to connect with like-minded people.
2) Making Blogger Extensible. I absolutely love the idea of programmable, extensible web services. I desperately want to open Blogger up and let other people plug their tools and interfaces into it.
We've actually had an XML-RPC-like interface to Blogger for several months. We never opened it up for lack of both a clear business model on how to do so and because, when you're having scaling problem, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to open up your servers to potentially do a lot more things -- and with less control.
This is something I will definitely get back to, though.
WtW: Have you thought of taking the cybermapping approach and allowing blogs to be selected by location on a map?
EW: I haven't thought a lot about it, but I'd love to see it. Better directory features in general are something we (and the blogging community as a whole) desperately need.
WtW: What new features are most-requested by users?
EW: Spellchecking, archive templates, picture support, email out...
WtW: And linked to that, what features are you most interested in adding?
EW: Hmmm... so many. A the top of the list would probably be things like comments (i.e., readers can comments on posts -- a la BlogVoices) and email in and out.
Thinking bigger, I'm dying to allow bloggers to syndicate each other's stuff (i.e., see utilizing the network).
WtW: How do you think blogging will change in the next five years?
EW: I guess we'll probably be blogging from hovercraft and wearing shiny suits.
WtW: Do you have any plans to move the app to the desktop?
EW: I don't plan to move the app to the desktop, but I do plan to extend it to the desktop. In the midst of the p2p hype these days, I think a lot of the beautiful advantages of web applications are getting forgotten about.
Applications delivered over the web still have big advantages in terms of accessibility-from-anywhere, maintainability, ease-of-adoption, collaboration, and multi-platform support. However, there are obvious advantages to a decentralized approach, as well.
I'm shooting for a best-of-both-worlds architecture, which will include optional desktop (and "satellite" server) tools.
WtW: With that in mind, do you worry that Blogger might face competition from improved desktop-based authoring software?
EW: I'm sure it will. But as I implement some of the ideas around utilizing the network, as I mentioned above, I think it will be clear that the software+service approach is a powerful combination that completely "detached" software can't match.
My hope, of course, is that we can collaborate. In fact, just the other day, I met with one of the leading web tools vendors about how they can hook their desktop apps to Blogger. That, I think, would be the best of both worlds.