Monday, December 25, 2006

Google Delivers Major Blogger Update

Search specialist Google has given its blogging software a major upgrade, adding privacy features, new templates, and tighter integration with Google's other services.

With the new Blogger toolkit, now out of beta, users can add photos and other information without HTML expertise. More advanced users can create custom templates in an array of type fonts and colors.

Also noteworthy in the latest update is the ability to limit access to blog entries. While the blogs are open to the public by default, the settings can be changed to limit access to a select list of readers.

You enter the e-mail address of a person to whom you want to grant access, and the Google account associated with that address will be given access. If an address is not associated with an account, that person will be sent an invitation to sign up for a Google account.

Personal Touch, which was acquired by Google in 2003, has helped to make blogging a more ubiquitous activity, especially as more people have grown up using the Web and are adding to the already large blog community of readers and writers.

With more advanced smartphones that support new user experiences, the blogosphere is growing every day. In recent history, the enterprise has begun to feel the effects of the blogosphere, with some firms recognizing the benefits of open-mindedness and encouraging employees to blog outside of their corporate networks.

Right now, blogs double in number every six months, according to Technorati, a blog search engine. And, as of October 2006, there were 56 million blogs on the Web.

However, despite their strong numbers, the average life span of a blog is merely three months and shrinking daily, according to new research from Gartner.

Critical Mass

Gartner recently published a controversial report in which analysts predicted that the blogging trend will level off in 2007.

"Today's overexuberance will give way to a steady state of at least 30 million active bloggers and 30 million frequent community contributors worldwide," wrote Gartner analysts Ed Thompson, Adam Sarner, and Esteban Kolsky. "The steady state will grow again, but much more slowly, as the global Internet population rises."

The Gartner report also noted that traffic at MySpace and Facebook -- two kingpins of the Web's social-networking movement -- have dropped 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Those numbers were based on figures from tracking firm Nielson//NetRatings.

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