Geekery has deep roots in many sources: Tolkien, Star Trek, Star Wars, various fantasy and science fiction novels, roleplaying games, the legendary hacker cultures of MIT, Stanford, UCB and others, the experiences of Usenet and so on and so forth.
One of the ideas which escaped from Star Trek into the lexicon of geekery is “TNG”, an abbreviation for The Next Generation. TNG is usually applied to projects which try reimagine and reimplement older systems in the light of experiences learnt.
I am thinking that the time to TNG blogging software has now arrived. Previously I have written about the pre-history of blogging with the complaint that a lot of features from the first and second generations have not yet made it to the third generation. I also speculated briefly about what features a fourth generation might embrace.
Over the next few weeks I am planning to explore this problem space a bit more. I plan to ask: who are the stakeholders for blogging software? What are the traps in developing a new system? What might a new system look like? What tools will make life easier? More difficult?
But to start with, why bother writing a new generation?
As I see it, there are two big reasons.
Missing features: As noted above, certain features from the first and second generations never made it into the third. Sophisticated moderation systems and threaded discussions are some. Killfiles another. More to the point, room needs to be made for a fourth generation of features and behaviour. Distributed social graphs and mobile identities are just two such features.
Nonfunctional shortcomings: Blog software just doesn’t scale very well. Not effortlessly, in any case. The only people who’ve made WordPress scale up in a big way are WordPress.com. The masters of Movable Type scaling are Six Apart on TypePad. And so on: the LAMP stack actually requires a lot of work to distribute out load. Only the experts can do it, and then only if they control all the levers. Hosts struggle with the hard-to-scale single-host emphasis of designs; users suffer when their obscure cat blog becomes a frontpage Digg link. This needs to be addressed.
What about you? What do you think is wrong with the current generation of blogging code?
Additional: What I need are ideas, rethinks, remarks. I am not the repository of all wisdom! One of the difficulties of modern life is that the output of genius has fantastically outstripped our ability to discover its insights. So please lend your insights — this project steps out and above blogs in part to the higher plane of social software, community software. People from Usenet, trolls, mailings lists, open source projects, volunteer groups, programmers, administrators, researchers, users, curmudgeons and dreams; please add your two bits.