One of the things that has become very popular is something called a moblog. It’s like a weblog, but instead of posting text, you post images. This fad starting gaining in popularity earlier this year with the release of the camera phone. Since you have a mobile phone and the ability to take snapshots with it, it’s quite easy to simply e-mail the photo to your moblog and share it with the world. Although I don’t have a camera phone just yet, I created a moblog for this site anyway as a way to share snapshots that didn’t fit into my Photo Gallery. So even if you don’t have a camera phone, that’s no reason not to create a moblog.
My Mom recently returned from a trip to Seattle with two of her friends. I had loaned her my digital camera and she had taken 140 photos and wanted to share them with her buddies. Since she already has a weblog it seemed only natural that I add a photo feature to it. This sent me down the path of trying to find an easy to use solution for her website. I could create photo galleries like I have on my site, but she needs something easier to use. Something that didn’t require having to learn how to use FTP, or edit configuration files.
Creating A Photo Blog
The first thing I thought about doing was creating a new weblog in her installation of Movable Type and configuring it for a photo weblog. I looked at several tutorials that talked about how to do this. Adam Polselli.com has an excellent tutorial. It’s brief, but clear on just what to do. Quixotic Pixels also has a tutorial that is a bit more detailed and includes templates and samples as well.
Although either tutorial would work for creating an integrated solution, it still seemed a bit kludgey. I also didn’t think that it would be all that easy for my Mom to update her site. She would have one way for text entries and another for photos and I just wanted something a little simplier.
Creating A Moblog
With a moblog all you have to do is e-mail the photo to a designated address and you’re done. A thumbnail image is created automatically and inserted into your templates along with the original photo. There’s really no work to do once you have it all setup.
The only real downside, if you can call it that, is that your photos and templates are not on your web server. Instead, they are hosted on the company providing the service. If you’re a control freak, that may be an issue. I know that I’m a control freak, so it was something I had to consider, but once I found the right company to host the moblog, it was a no brainer.
Over the past few months, TextAmerica has really grown and has become the un-official king of moblogs. If someone you know has a moblog, chances are it’s on TextAmerica and for good reason – they are the best.
For starters, you have full control of your content. Since my Mom already has a weblog, I wanted to make sure her moblog matched perfectly. With control over every aspect of your templates this was a piece of cake. Now her moblog is seamless with the rest of her weblog.
If the thought of having to look at HTML makes you cringe, TextAmerica has easy to use templates that allow you to “skin” your website in less than a minute. A new feature they just recently added is a Template Wizard. With the wizard, you have more control over the layout and design of your site. There are fewer skins, but you have so much control, it gives you a lot more that you can customize. No matter what design you choose, you can always change it later by doing the wizard again, or changing your template. It’s one of the easiest template systems out there.
Although I’ve talked alot about moblogs, you can use TextAmerica for straight up weblogs as well. You really have all the freedom in the world to create what you want. Oh and you can create as many weblogs as you want as well. So if you want to create one for photos and one for your text you can, or you can simply mix it up in one moblog.
If the idea of creating your own moblog sounds a bit too intimidating, you can always submit your photos and copy to a public moblog. Public moblogs tend to revolve around a particular topic or event. For example, during the blackout that hit the Northeast section of the US earlier this year, a moblog was created and 100’s of people posted their images throughout the blackout Because with a public moblog, the creator has made submissions open to the public. Simply submit your e-mail with your photo attached to the specified e-mail address and it will be posted.
There’s just no end to what you can create at TextAmerica. I don’t how they are making any money at what they are doing, but it’s a great company run by a great bunch of guys. Simply put, it’s one of the most elegant and best designed solutions out in the market today.
The Finished Product
After reviewing all the options in creating a photo weblog, in the end the moblog just made more sense. With the ease of use and customization that TextAmerica provides, in an hour, I had Mom’s moblog up and running and matching her weblog to a “T”. The only difficult part was the fact that I had to send each image as an individual e-mail. Remember, moblogs were designed around the idea that you would e-mail your photo from your phone. Not send 140 images from a digital camera. So 140 e-mails later and all of her photos were posted to the web. Now Mom has the daunting task of adding copy, should she want to, to all the images. 🙂