If you’re reading this through a feed, you’re missing out on some major enhancements I’ve made to this blog. I think you’ll like it since it’s likely to bring more relevant traffic to your blog.
So what’s new?
In a nutshell, I’ve redesigned a little and made it possible to see the community of readers who come here regularly (that’s you). You can see community members who have visited me on the Recent Readers widget that is running on my right sidebar. Thanks to the clever folks at MyBlogLog, anyone who has a blog can now do this.
In a way, I feel as if this is bringing the MySpace / LiveJournal type of social networking to regular blogs like ours. Definitely much needed since the current way we see one another is generally through conversations based on comments and trackbacks. For more advanced bloggers, we might use web statistics packages such as Mint to track referrals.
Note that MyBlogLog is the same web company which offered click-through tracking, and now they’ve expanded their feature set to include this new blog community feature, complete with handy widgets to dress up your blog. It just rolled out so expect more functionality to appear in the future.
Here’s how it kinda works…
At time of writing, there is no FAQ. I did find this “About MyBlogLog Communities” page, but it’s quite short. Terms like blog communities and neighborhoods were thrown in the wind, and even playing with the service for the first few minutes made me none the wiser. To help you along, let me break down what this is all about into Features and Motivations:
Recent Readers widget
As seen above, this feature gives you a good starting point for understanding how MyBlogLog immediately benefits you. You’ll get to see the faces (or avatars) of people who’ve stopped by your blog, which adds a new visual dimension at tracking your visitors. It’s like how Gravatars (globally recognized avatar) work in the comments of some blogs, but in this case a registered reader’s imprint immediately registers whenever he or she comes by. Both you and fellow readers can click on a particular recent reader and read up on their member profile as well as other blog communities this person has joined. I love this… it’s quite literally a peer-based blog discovery / recommendation structure since your readers are likely to share similar interests as you!
Yesterday’s Top 5 Links widget
This widget was something that MyBlogLog originally promoted. It basically shows you the top five outgoing links on your blog. Since I’ve blogged for quite a while, my top five isn’t going to change very much, so it’s pointless for me. Besides, I already use a Top Ten blog posts WordPress widget on my blog which works better.
You get your own daily blog statistics page where you get to find out Where Readers Came From, What Readers Viewed, and What Readers Clicked. Once you get 10 community members for your blog, then you’ll get to see What My Members Clicked on Other Sites Today as well as My Members’ Other Popular Communities. This is where they earn their greens: To see more statistics, you have to be a paid member.
Member HomePage / Profile
Here’s my member home page on MyBlogLog where I’ll focus on only the essentials. Starting from the top, you’ll see the “Sites and Blogs I Author”. You’ll see my single blog shown there, but you can claim more than one blog if you have more. Going down, you’ll see the “Latest Profile Readers” which shows you who’s been reading your details on MyBlogLog. Clicking on their avatars lets you read their profile in return. Next we see “New Neighbors from My Communities” which let’s you find out who’s joined the blog communities you’ve joined before. Same as before, you’ll see who’s interested in the same things as you so, which brings about the premise for social networking based on blogs. Not pictured further down are two more sections, namely Family, Friends and Contacts, My Admirers and My Profile. Besides joining communities, you can add contacts (fellow members) directly. Although the degrees of contact separation follows that of Flickr, I don’t get the last one, Admirers.
What is a Blog Community? It’s basically a group of readers who visit a particular blog. You can either create your own blog community by adding your blog, or join existing blog communities from the directory shown above. Right now the popular blog communities include to TechCrunch and BoingBoing. The point of all this though is to diversify your blog reading habits, so encourage yourself to join more blog communities. Doing so, you’ll soon find yourself discovering even more interesting blogs at an exponential rate. You can join my theory community here.
Just as you have a Blog Community directory, there’s a Members Directory as well. Here you can browse for particular members, but I really see less use for this unless you know your party’s extension. It’s good to have either way.
I think this new feature rollout from MyBlogLog isn’t just cool, but it’s much needed. Just as CoComment attempted to bring more social value to blog comments, MyBlogLog Community adds a peer-to-peer layer to the the existing architecture of the blogosphere. I really hope for this to take off (think Network Effect), so that we can see more interesting, yet customizable widgets we’d be willing to plug onto our blogs.
Since MyBlogLog also lets you keep track of your User IDs across various web services (just edit your profile to see what I mean), an idea I saw somewhere included aggregating the RSS feeds from all your web services (e.g. Digg, MySpace, Friendster) and pooling it into an all-in-one personal feed. Personally, I’d improve on the Recent Reader’s widget by allowing more visual customization as well as a direct link to a reader’s blog instead of having to go through MyBlogLog. Interestingly, MyBlogLog also tracks blogs based on location (See example of Buffalo, NY), though the value and accuracy of this is something I’ve yet to determine. Regardless of all the shortcomings, I can see a lot of potential from the usability perspective, but perhaps I’ll save my suggestions for another post.
For now, I definitely think MyBlogLog Community is one Web 2.0 service you can’t pass up.
Before you go…
If you’re a regular reader of theory.isthereason, join my community and set up an account if you haven’t already. You’ll also be able to build you own blog community after registering. Good Luck!