MSN 'Spaces' Blog Community

December 2, 2004 20:30 by keithkaragan
MSN is offering access to the beta version of their 'Spaces' blogging service for free to those interested. I opened up a blog account there ( http://spaces.msn.com/members/keithkaragan/ ) to check out the features and functionality, as well as to have a sister blog to this one for material that is less than business-related (as if the posts thus far are - lol!).
Anyway, keeping in mind that this is a beta product, it's still mighty slow and I was stranded on non-rendering pages more than a few times setting up the blog and creating a post. This could be bugs in the beta release, it could be heavy traffic since it's new, or it could be a bellwether for things to come (but I doubt it).
Feature wise, Spaces are pretty nice. The look of the sites are in keeping with the MyMsn / Hotmail flavor, and you can pick a theme and a layout from a modest assortment of pre-fabs. The editing area is based (seemingly) on the MyMsn portal framework (which seems like a SharePoint Portal Server derivative).You can add and remove modules, or move them around to alternate places in the layout quite easily.
The lists module is nice, you can list all the things you might collect, people you know, or women (or men) that have dumped you recently. A prefab music list is included that can read from your Windows media player playlist and create a list item on the fly (not a what your listening to type entry like in other blogging software - you need to select the playlist). Items in the music list link to the MSN music store , where if the song is found a visitor can preview or buy the song.
Kinda cool, although since your pimping the song, seems that Huggy Bear should get a cut, eh? Also, it would be nice if the search and preview feature could be 'in place' on the blog ... expand on the theme for other referral sales (hmmm).
There's also a photo album and integration to MSN Profiles so you can share, share, and share some more. There are custom lists, hopefully you can make a link in there to link, say, your photos on another site or your songs on MP3.com or your site ... just a thought.
Obviously the whole thing is heavily reliant on client scripting, I'll have to try it again in firefox and see what happens. Hotmail works in firefox, but the experience is less than wonderful. Speaking of hotmail, they have a new web based MSN Messenger client that sits in your hotmail window. Normally this would be useless for me since I get my hotmail through outlook, but perhaps if I was on-site at a client where MSN Messenger is blocked by a firewall I may still have access via hotmail (I'll try that next time I'm in that situation).
The look of the Spaces blogs and the feel is different from the other current blogging apps around, that's not a bad thing, we'll see shortly if they win hearts and minds to the MS blogging approach. I'll be interested to see if MS forces their corporate bloggers on MSDN away from Scott Watermasysk's .Text blogging software (now known as Telligent's Community Server ). That would be a shame on many fronts, since they put a lot of hard work behind that product, and it is very nice (this is a .Text blog).
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