I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say the Telegraph’s new ‘My Telegraph’ blogging platform is revolutionary. Others – specificially, The Sun and Express – have opened ‘personal’ areas within their sites, but both are underwhelming. ‘My Telegraph’ has clearly been put together by people who ‘get it’.
A (relatively) brief registration process gives you a blog with a unique selling point: the address has ‘telegraph.co.uk’ in it. Don’t underestimate the value of this: having seen the attendance at the recent Telegraph bloggers’ Open House, it’s clear to me that people in the UK are happy to define themselves in terms of the newspaper they read. I was very clearly among an audience of Telegraph People (and I have to say, at times, it felt a little uncomfortable). A lot of people will take great pride in quoting their URL: my.telegraph.co.uk/myname.
Shane Richmond and co deserve a lot of credit for developing a blogging platform which includes relatively complex functionality, but makes it very simple. Huge buttons with friendly icons, lots of in-context instructions, a ‘wizard’ approach to blog authoring, sensible URLs for the individual blogs, and a spacious design all make it a very welcoming experience. The ‘blogs I read’ list, which lets each blogger point to his/her friends elsewhere on the platform, will encourage a good amount of casual browsing.
At the moment, though, it’s a fairly self-contained area. The ability to ‘save’ blog posts, and the listing of my ‘comments’ on other blogs, seem to be restricted to the MyTelegraph section… not the journalists’ blogs, and not the (real) newspaper content. Personally, I think I’d have looked to merge the ‘reader blogs’ and the ‘journos’ blogs’ a bit more, maybe even going so far as to close down the ‘blogs.telegraph.co.uk’ section and migrate the ‘professionals’ over to the ‘amateurs’ platform. (Version two, perhaps.)
I’m provisionally impressed. But the project will stand or fall purely on the basis of the community it develops. Having met many of the dedicated Tele community at the recent Open House, I’m convinced they have a ready supply of people wanting to take part. All the elements are in place. But if they think the hard work has just finished, I’m sorry – it has only just started.