Blogs at AOL?

John Ellis in FastCompany: "There are a number of reasons why AOL's glory days may be in the rearview mirror, but let's reduce it to five: 3. Real Creativity Is Happening Elsewhere. The major development in the Web world over the past two years was the emergence of Blogger as a publishing tool. There are now about 500,000 blogs, and the number grows by the month. There are no blogs at, on, or as part of AOL."

CBS MarketWatch: AOL said ready to boost 'blogging': "America Online reportedly will furnish subscribers the tools through which they can publish diaries and commentaries on the Web. "

Anil Dash: "Don't be suckered in by the non-news of the CBS MarketWatch story on AOL providing weblogs to its users. This is a rehash of the weeks-old Rick Robinson interview that Mark Hurst did."

Mark Hurst interview with Rick Robinson, VP of Community Products, AOL:

Q. AOL is getting into weblogs?

In a way, we've had them for a while. A few years ago, in our Digital City area, we called them "comment boards." Type your thoughts, click a button, and they're published sequentially on the page. It was essentially the same thing as blogging, only it was a group environment rather than one author publishing to many readers.

The "In a way, we've had them for a while." comment may just be spin, or it may demonstrate that AOL doesn't really understand what weblogs are, or what makes them work. Anyway, we also have firsthand knowledge that AOL has been looking at the space, with some interest, for a few months at least. We also hear they have a renewed interest in community over there. (Then again, we also know they're in turmoil, to a certain extent, and plans could change quickly.) My guess is that they will release something called blogs, or some derivative of the term, in a few months (not February), which won't seem like weblogs as most of us know them. They'll co-opt the term to rehash something they already have, with a new coat of paint. I'm not sure whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing.

As long as I'm prophetizing, I predicted a year ago (at least privately) that AOL, Yahoo, and MSN would have blogs by the end of 2002. I was a little optimistic/pessimistic (depending on which hat I'm wearing), but I'd have to renew that prediction for this year.

With or without the Big Three, it will be an interesting year in blogland. Lots of people are working on lots of stuff, most of which we haven't heard of yet.