Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Most people are aware that Six Apart got a lot of feedback on the release of Movable Type 3.0 and there was a bit of confusion as well. Mena has a good post that addresses many of the issues people have been asking about.


The fact still remains that Six Apart abused the community. Many developers wrote plugins, many bloggers evangelized and supported MT. MT is MT because of them not because of Ben and Mena.

Seems more like Joi's last post offered a more accurate use of the word "abuse". And perhaps Ben and Mena had a *little* to do with MT?

Seems a communication problem. Next time, apply the boiling frog method };)

Abused the community? Oh please, gimme a break! It's a business, not a charity. And they have bills to pay.

$10/additional blog seems very reasonable indeed. I just heard an audio interview with the Trotts, they seem like they genuinely want to do good by their users. With a revised pricing structure MT should continue to thrive. And besides, what are the alternatives? Blogware is only available through resellers, and Blogger can't be instaleld locally to do some of the funky things power-geeks like to do.

Don't let the whiners get you down Joi/Ben/Mena. Apart from the technical merits, 6A is doing a great job marketing. If Blogware had their marketing act together I think they could give 6A and Typepad a good run for their money, but I don't think that's happening anytime soon.

last month, while i was visiting some lowland tropical rainforest in costa rica, i came across a small group of monkeys.

a friendly lot, they paced me along the trail, and eventually came to rest in a tree beside me.

i set my backpack down and reached for my camera. chittering curiously to themselves, the monkeys posed for a number of wonderful pictures at close range, all the while eyeing my backpack.

as i reached down to retrieve my backpack, the monkeys suddenly became agitated, and began screeching, and jumping up and down, shaking branches, and generally behaving as if they were very, very upset.

apparently, when you drop something on the ground in the forest, the locals think you've given it to them, and woe unto you if you lay any claim to it.

we haven't come so far, have we.

I don't really have any complaints about the licensing model, although it does seem that the announcement was awfully sloppy.

But I would like to use this opportuntiy to say that my biggest complaint with both MT and ecto is their obtuse product announcements and feature descriptions. A small percentage of you who may see blogging as a vocation rather than an avocation. Many may see it as a passtime. For me, blogging is quite central to my business and research efforts, but I have no interest (none!) in thinking about the software. I'm only interested in producing good content.

This isn't becuase I'm not a technical user -- I am. I bought ecto because it makes authoring easier. Getting free updates is nice, but do I need to download two versions in one week for "SmartyPants support?" The problem with these software applications is not that they might cost money -- rather its that you guys are doing a poor job articulating the user benefits of the products and their upgrades.

If you really want blogging to be a mass-market activity, then you need to realize that there is a user base between TypePad amateur and MT-plugin geek. Figure it out.

This thread shows a great ignorance of free software as in speech not as in beer. Mark does a great job explaining what's wrong with MT licensing model

And to demonstrate that it's not about the monetary price Mark switches top an open source blogging tool and donate the same amount of money to the project that he would have paid to keep MT.

I respect the folks at SixApart, but the way they have mishandled the launch of 3.0 clearly shows that they do not have enough people with communications skills on staff. Not surprising in a tech-oriented startup, of course, but in this case - a startup that creates software used to communicate - it's a big problem.

SixApart made a few classic mistakes in coming up with their new licensing. They trusted their survey results too much, and they didn't talk to enough users at critical stages.

For example: One of the most valid comments we heard is that the personal licenses do not work well for many people who are currently using Movable Type. This surprised us because in a survey of 2500 people, a whopping 85% of respondents had 5 of fewer weblogs or authors. This help educate our final decisions about the weblog and author limits.

The more important question is, who were those 2500 users? Were they self-selected or was any effort put into making sure that a broad cross-section of users participated? Not balancing your participant base is a very good way to get data that is accurate yet ultimately wrong.

The second question is, did SixApart vet this new licensing package with any customers before launching it? With a level of upset as big as this one, if they had bothered to talk to even a handful of customers before going public with their pricing they would surely have gotten some indication that they needed to rethink things. Instead, they have had to handle a very public firestorm.

Now, to their credit, they are trying to calm the waters, and with some success. But they are at a critical junction. I hope they respond by putting one or more people on staff who are more practiced in the arts of marketing, product management and corporate communications. I'm tempted to send them a resume myself, but I suspect they're already flooded with them.

I think it would be best if Mena eased up a bit on her 'business voice' and notched up her 'personal voice' a bit more.

It's a new kind of business that calls for a new style of business communication.

Ian Bogost, ecto isn't a Six Apart product. It's mine ( The reason why you sometimes download two upgrades in a week is because I often respond quickly to user feedback and bug reports.

Seems to me that some people (e.g. Mark Pilgrim) were going to switch to a free/open product at some point regardless, the money wasn't an issue itself (as he's made abundantly clear), it was just a big reminder that MT isn't free/open.

Even with the miscommunication (dual-CPUs clause, definition of single weblog), the price point being too high (now at least partly addressed), and the direction-change on TypeKey - it seems to me that the biggest boo-boo was making this shift to charging (some) personal users with a release that does not offer at least a few obvious whiz-bang new features. That would have helped all the MT boosters out there argue that MT is worth a chunk of change.

That's with my evil marketing hat on, of course :). I'm a free as in speech guy, so my first preference would be for y'all to really free the code, and build the business model on consulting (e.g. support, customization) and services (e.g. TypePad), but i'm probably barking up a dead horse...

Adriaan -- Yes, I know ecto isn't a Six Apart product. I was lumping the two together in my commentary, but I should have been clearer that the two are not related from a business/ownership perspective. Thanks for clarifying here.

Ian, no problem! :)

By the way Adriaan, I really love ecto. It's great. The point I was trying to make is that most blogging products have been sold as weblog technology platforms, not as communication systems, not as discussion systems.

What sold me on ecto was (literally) not having to use the wretched MT authoring interface -- not some crazy thing called delicious which only 6 people I have ever met know about. I make this point not to criticize such neat features, but to argue that there is very little self-evaluation of the value proposition on the part of weblog software publishers.

I use MT everyday, yet I have no idea what 3.0 offers or why I'd want to use it. I pay for software I find useful all the time, but I won't spend my time searching for reasons why I should find software useful. Sorry. was a feature request from Joi...

a cross-platform and device independent technology that allows applications to publish their functionality as web services, accessible by any Internet-enabled device

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