Just when you thought it was safe to write off Weblogs as a cute post-dot-com fling, Google goes and buys
The deal is a public vindication of the blog movement, but it also opens up potential avenues of innovation for Google that demand closer inspection.
The dissemination of this news in the blogging community over the long Presidents Day weekend proves that Google is tapping into a vibrant community. Within hours of the news breaking in San Jose Mercury columnist Dan Gillmor's blog, the commentaries started, and reciprocal links fanned out across the Web like a spider on steroids. In short, the Weblog world went ballistic.
It showed off one of the most powerful aspects of blogs: their ability to deliver news and information, coupled with reciprocal links to that news, mixed with healthy doses of personal commentary, published immediately by IT people who matter.
This rapid form of information sharing using the Web and the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) protocol is what drives a loose form of collaboration around ideas. Intellectual capital is traded between bloggers, and the whole world can tune in to follow the thread.
John Patrick, a former IBM exec and now president of venture capital firm Attitude, picked up on this thought during an onstage panel at IDG's Demo conference last week. RSS allows blogs to syndicate information rapidly, and with Google, that has the potential to explode, he said.
The open question now is how Google searches, RSS, and Weblogs will work together to deliver apps and services not currently available.
One potential avenue is for Google to combine these elements and shape the evolution of tools that help users collaborate. Right now there seem to be two approaches to collaboration. The first is Groove's, which depends on users migrating to its own rich client platform. The second, outlined by IBM Lotus and ISVs such as Kubi Software, uses collaboration that is built from your existing messaging platform, for example.
At their core, both approaches are trying to integrate different communication channels to create a richer whole. Weblogs are, of course, a superb communications medium.
At this point, the two technologies are not intimately connected, but the prospect of pulling an RSS feed into e-mail, calendaring, or workgroup scenarios is one that raises interesting possibilities. Ultimately, tools that make you more productive regardless of your location will find immediate application in the enterprise.
Meanwhile, another perhaps unintended consequence of this union will help IT folks sooner rather than later.
A decision by Google to focus on more easily exposing and categorizing Weblog content would be enormously helpful for people making IT purchasing decisions. For example, there's a large and growing number of engineers, developers, thinkers, and product managers with blogs. It's a potential gold mine of information about the ideas that steer development efforts.
It's also a potential source of vendor heartache and much gnashing of PR teeth. But as a journalist and editor, I can't tell you how much I like that scenario. Faster access to people, information, and ideas is the true seed of innovation.