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August 07, 2003

Now It Can Be Told

I've been playing coy about some big news, but now I've signed the contracts so I can spill. Here it is:

In a couple of weeks, I start blogging for AOL.

To expand: As many of you know, America Online has built a new blogging tool and area, which it is calling AOL Journals. Jeff Jarvis and other selected bloggers got a peek at the tool a little while back (here Jeff's entry on it, as well as his AOL beta blog); and the buzz was pretty good -- the general consensus was that AOL was making a pretty good attempt to provide a useful and usable tool for its members.

Well, to that end, consider me an extension of that attempt for the usefulness and usability of AOL Journals; broadly speaking, my job will be to show AOL members how blogging and journaling is done, both by example (i.e., by blogging and opining myself) and by acting as a sort of tutor/instigator/spotlight operator for AOL Journals. I'll also be doing time as a general cheerleader for the concept of writing online in all its forms.

So, for example, during the day I'll link to some interesting thing out there, ask a few thought-provoking questions about the subject, invite people to write about the subject in their AOL Journals (and outside blogs) and send me the links, which I would then post as an update. I'll also be doing the time-honored stomp through the AOL Journals and the rest of the blog world to find other worthy linkables. And on top of all that I'll be doing some other stuff too, which I won't talk about now but which will hopefully be neat.

So basically, my job:

1. Demystify the journaling and blogging process for AOL members so they can jump in and start doing it.

2. Encourage the writing, reading, and linking of blogs and journals on AOL and in the blogoverse.

3. Write a kick-ass blog worth reading.

Why me? Well, why not? Also, as many of you know, I have a long and involved history with America Online, both as an employee and as a contractor, and I also have a long and involved history with writing online, having been a participant in both the early (journaling) and later (blogging) waves of online writing. And of course I'm a professional writer. So I know more than a little about AOL, online writing, and writing in general. I'm qualified. I'm biased toward myself, of course, but I think I could be good for what AOL wants to do with this thing, and as helper for AOL members, and also as a bridge between AOLers and the blogoverse. We'll see how it goes from here.

Let's go to the questions:

So you're a corporate tool now?

You betcha. And I'm getting paid to be a corporate tool, too. And as we all know, a paid corporate tool is the best kind of corporate tool there is.

Does this mean you'll have the awesome power of AOL at your command?

Yes! Fear me!

No, no, no. I mean, yes, the idea is to be something of a guide to the blogoverse and beyond for AOL members, so they have an easy entry into the concept of writing online. I'll be doing a lot of linking out into the world, which means that (presumably) some of you will get some more AOLers coming your way to sample your wares (and hopefully vice-versa: That you'll be coming in to read the new blog and to check out the people who blog and journal on AOL).

Will they be life changing, Instapundit-esque numbers of visitors? I don't know. What's more, I'm not really going to worry about that. My job is to make a useful, fun blog. Whether it gets read is a factor of how successfully I pull off that particular job.

So, yeah, no pressure there.

Also, another reason for me not to get delusions of grandeur: My contract's fairly short. I view this as a intro gig to help AOL Journals and AOL Journals writers get going. If it goes longer than the current contract, groovy. We'll see where it goes from here.

So you'll be blogging using AOL Journals?

Yup. That's the idea. The first step in encouraging AOLers to have fun with AOL Journals is to have fun with it myself.

So what happens to the Whatever?

I'll still be writing here; my gig for AOL entails blogging of the "many short entries" variety, and as you know I do enjoy going on about things. So I expect the Whatever will continue to be the repository for the longer sort of blatherings you've all come to know and love. So keep dropping by from time to time.

Having said that, don't expect tons here in August and September. In addition to building out my space on AOL, I'm cramming through Book of the Dumb and also plugging away at The Android's Dream. Dumb is due September 1, and Android October 1, so between those two and my AOL duties, I'll be a bit busy.

But it's not as if you won't be getting a lot of me over at my AOL gig. Trust me, kids, I'm planning to have more fun with this than you might think is humanly possible.

More details as they come.

Posted by john at August 7, 2003 06:15 PM

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