Yesterday FM Media held their first author salon at their new offices in Sausalito. Although they don’t have a roof deck for fancy roof parties just yet, we had a great discussion about the issues facing blog authors over breakout sessions and pizza and beer.
Certainly John Battelle and FM are on to something. One thing that many of us had in common is that as much as we love to write and do the blogging part of our publications, we at times lack the tools, resources, and technical expertise to make our blogs better. I know that I have been living in a fairly limited blogger template since I started blogging and it was great to hear about the resources that FM has at hand to help me make my site better. I do need to get off of blogger and have been in contact with John’s webmaster Scott Hacker recently about doing some work to redesign my site. Anil Dash (who reminded us that he is NOT the goatse guy, but rather the guy in a goatse *shirt* from the New York Times, an important distinction with his wife apparently) from Six Apart and Matt Mullenweg from WordPress were both at the salon and it was great to hear about some of the new publisher tools that they are both working on to make their popular blogging platforms even better.
There are a lot of issues facing bloggers going forward. What do you do about RSS (advertising, full feeds, partial feeds, measurement, etc.), building better site widgets (site search, referral info, polls and surveys, comment highlights, etc.), how to protect yourself (legal referrals, cease and desist letters and liability insurance), and how to handle the technical aspects and problems in running your site were all items of discussion. As the band leader for Boing Boing, John has personally had a lot of experience with many of these issues facing bloggers today. I also enjoyed hearing a lot of Drew Curtis’ experiences in running Fark, a site that along with Boing Boing has certainly pushed the limits of high traffic blogging.
It was great to also finally meet in person a lot of the people that I’ve known through blogging but had not met in person yet — to put names and faces together. Matt Haughey from PVRBlog, Dave Pell from Davenetics (and working with Rollyo) and of course the staff at FM who have been very helpful in moving us into the FM fold Chas Edwards, Andre Torrez, Bill Brazell, Jennifer Charette and one of their newest employees (as of yesterday) Jonathan Schreiber. I enjoyed chatting with Jonathan about his career with TiVo prior to FM, something near and dear to my heart.
I also spent some time talking with Allan Bush about a new photo sharing type thing that his company Sharpcast is working on for mobile, server, and PC conversion — it sounded a bit like Orb for photos to me except that some of your photos are cached and don’t require a connection for fast offline use.
The whole model behind FM is that the author is at the center with FM serving to do everything that they can to make blog publisher’s life easier. While part of this involves them using their contacts to sell advertising for us (and they seem to do that very well — providing quite lucrative CPM arrangements) more importantly is their role in structuring a federation that we can all together benefit from. It is much different than other blog networks where you are either a hired hand at a someone else’s blog or required to sign lengthy service contracts (any author at FM can quit at any time for any reason).
John is obviously a smart guy with a lot of insight into where things are headed in the blogging world and I think FM fills a need out there right now. I’m looking forward to more author salon’s in the future and keeping up on the various trends in blogging and finding more and more ways to make my own site better.
If you are interested in possibly joining FM Publishing as an author or blogger you can contact Bill Brazell at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are an advertiser and would like to advertise on my site or on other sites in the network you can contact Chas Edwards at email@example.com.
I put a Flickr photo set of some of the people at yesterday’s salon here.