I went to New York City today. I’m back home now, almost twelve hours
after I left. It’s been a long day. As long as it’s been, it’s been a
lot of fun. The top secret meeting is now something I can talk about. I
went to New York with the AOL Journals team to talk about the new AOL
Journals product with some influential folks in the blogging world. Who?
Well, I’ll tell you: Meg Hourihan,
Jeff Jarvis and
Clay Shirky. I was amazed that Gait
invited me to come along with them. I didn’t work on the Journals
product. I helped with a lot of the concept stuff, explaining to people
who have never blogged or really knew about blogging, what it was all
about and providing a “real blogger’s” perpective on the whole thing. I
hope I didn’t lead them astray.
Let’s start at the beginning though… I woke up too early, at 5:30 for
an 8:45 flight. I got to the airport at 7, expecting a long wait at
security. There were three people in the line when I got there. I pulled
into the parking garage at Dulles airport at 6:50 and was at my gate at
7:05. I had a lot of time to kill, as you’ll see in the pictures.
Gait, Andrea and El Jefe made it to the airport with much less time to
spare. Oh yeah, characters. I worked with Gait a long (four years) time
ago on the first version of AOL
Search. Andrea the product manager for the Journals thing, and El
Jefe is Gait and Andrea’s boss (but he’s not the boss o’ me!!). We made
it to New York, with an hour till the meeting. We made it into the
building with about ten minutes before the demo was supposed to start. I
gallantly got my laptop setup, hooked up to the TV, connected to the
VPN, logged in and ready to go, and… we were in the wrong building.
Yeah, all the people with stacks of books and puzzled looks on their
faces should have clued us in, but… hey, we were in a hurry. So, a run
across the street and around the
block and we made it only a couple minutes late. I, in record time,
got the demo back up and running and we were off.
The meeting… it was way too much fun. Why are influential bloggers
influential? They have ideas, and aren’t shy about expressing them. They
had all kinds of suggestions, all kinds of comments, and overall, I
think the consensus is that AOL Journals is headed in the right
direction. Now, let me explain something. AOL Journals is different. No
one thinks of blogging as a new “space” to conquer. Most of the people
involved in the project realize that AOL’s coming into an established
meta-community who are wary of any large corporate involvement in their
space. I think we did a good job of explaining to the folks there, and
explaining to people at AOL, that we’re here with a great measure of
humility (I know, it’s rare for AOL, but it’s true). We’re trying
to play nice with the larger blogging community by supporting open
standards like RSS feeds for blogs. We’re trying to talk to folks in the
community to see where we should work with them. It’s unique in my
involvement in AOL products, which is a great step in the right
direction as far as I’m concerned.
When the product does come out later this year, bear in mind that it’s a
1.0, there are other new features on the way, and it’s built for the AOL
user in mind. That said, I’m not one who shies away from speaking my
mind. There are some really cool features in the product at
launch. RSS support will be in 1.0, along with a bunch of other stuff
that I’m not going to tell you about. Ok, I’ll tell you one… you can
send an IM to a bot and have it post to your blog with rich text support
and other cool stuff (like add titles, etc). That really blew a couple
people away, even though I know bloggerbot kind of did the same thing in
a limited (as I remember, flakey). How cool is that?
It was a great trip. I hope Jefe, Andrea and Gait take me along on their
next trip (I vote for Sedona, or Alaska. I’m sure there are influential
Alaskan bloggers, aren’t there?).