Reference Checks

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Ben Trott listened to his wife, and the result was Movable Type, tailored for creating online journals.

Reference Checks

Jeff Jarvis
President, Creative Director
Project: Advance Publications' online division relies on Movable Type to customize content for its local newspapers, and the software is key to its disaster-recovery plan.

Choire Sicha
Project: Part of Gawker Media—which includes porn-themed Fleshbot and gadget-centric Gizmodo—Gawker is nearing its one-year anniversary delivering daily doses of snarky pop culture.

The Kicker
Elizabeth Spiers
Project: After nine months running Gawker, Spiers was plucked to guide New York magazine's blog, which launched in September to cover the media scene.

Gilberto Cutrupi
Project: The global environmental organization began its blog in May 2002, and has since spawned "sub-blogs" on such topics as Iraq and the World Trade Organization.

Clark for President
Cameron Barrett
Manager, Online Community
Project: Online forum for Wesley Clark, the latecomer to the campaign, first ran on MT, but is switching to different software to handle the burgeoning load of comments.

Dean For America
Mathew Gross
Director, Internet Communications
Project: The presidential campaign for former Vermont Governor Howard Dean started using Blogger, but later switched to Movable Type.

The Technology
One of blogging's most useful features is the ability to let readers react to posted items. If a campaign blog, for example, summarizes coverage of the previous night's debate, anyone can log on and post comments to the piece.
But that's inherently limiting, keeping all the related material in one place, on one server. In the "blogosphere"—the universe of bloggers—the real power is in the spread of information, not the hoarding of it. Six Apart's attempt to address this is a feature called TrackBack, which collects links to comments made by readers on other sites.
The comments remain offsite, but can be reached by clicking on links on the blog where the original message appears.
A blogger from outside starts the process by embedding a tag on his or her site linking back to the campaign's post. Six Apart has made the TrackBack code freely available, so it can be adopted by other blogging software.
This will increase the ability of different sites to encourage interaction and linking between posters. And it even will play a role in limiting the bane of blogs: comment spamming.
By identifying where a comment has come from, the posts can be segregated. Readers are not forced to wade through all posts from all comers, including posts that are actually advertisements. The mechanism also allows the use of "blacklist" software for blocking comments from unwanted posters.

This article was originally published on 2003-12-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

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