IM meets blogging

Typepad, the weblog hosting service for this blog, has had an overhaul this weekend. It has introduced new features for authenticating comments (TypeKey) and for bloggers to moderate trackbacks and comments. It has also increased the bandwidth and storage it provides for bloggers, which is great.

During this transition, the appearance of this site may look a little odd. I’ve republished it several times but noticed that on some occasions it loses all formating. SixApart which runs the Typepad service is working on the issue right now – apologies meantime.

One of the new features Typepad has introduced is to build Instant Messaging presence into the blog. You can see on the left hand side a small AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) icon which tells you whether I’m ‘online’ or not. This is a good initiative since it means you can directly contact a blogger in relation to his or her post and have an active discussion.

By coincidence, I’ve also logged in to AIM using my cell phone (a Motorola v330) so can be contacted even when away from my computer. This might confuse the presence idea since I think mobile IM services are constantly connected, even when the user isn’t actively contactable.

But I’m a big fan of IM and presence in general. It’s so much faster knowing the person is there – great to send short updates, check facts and actions, transmit files, or just see whether someone has time for a call. The more this can be built into calendars, PIM (personal information management) systems, email and CRM solutions, the better.

Blogs are a natural union for IM and I hope will start much more active dialog and communications. It’s not hard to imagine how this might link with customer interaction systems for corporate blogs. You read about the company or a product, have a question – hit the button and get to speak directly to an agent or company representative. Of course, you don’t want your company to be ‘offline’ but it shouldn’t be hard for most firms to have IM covered during office hours.

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