The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

AOL JOURNALS: A BLOG BY ANY OTHER NAME
blogs on training wheels

Last summer, I got wind of the upcoming blogging offering from America Online, dubbed "AOL Journals". The launch date for this service seemed to have passed by pretty quietly, as AOL is hosting blogs for its membership in earnest, and has been since around September or so.

I think the assumption was that, following AOL's handholding approach to Internet service, AOL Journals would be similarly dumbed-down for the sake of user-friendliness for the non-tech-savvy. That may be the case in the setup, but from first glance, it looks like this blogging interface is fairly robust: Built-in commenting system, RSS 2.0, and counter all go a long way toward making this a pretty convenient system. There doesn't appear to be a trackback capability, but I've always considered that to be of dubious value. I'm guessing there's a good selection of layout templates, graphics integration and other extras, but some of this might have been sacrificed in favor of simpilicity.

I've gotten a look at only a couple of examples today; I don't know that I want to take a tour of AOL Journals. If I come across any that are a good read, I certainly won't discriminate on the basis of their AOL-ness. On the other hand, I have a feeling that the majority of these creations are going to be more "journal" than "blog", in terms of being personal diaries instead of heavily-hyperlinked mini-essays, and I generally prefer to read the latter; so based on that, I might not come across many that interest me.

The macro look at this, in terms of what the potential influx of AOL's 30-odd-million membership onto the blogging scene could mean, will be much more interesting for me.