Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trying out Vox

A few days ago, Kevin, Siva and I were sharing over email on some of our experiences in conducting blogging classes, particularly those that involved hands-on creation of blogs. In one of the email thread, I asked if any of them have shown Vox as a demo. Between the three of us, only Kevin had tried Vox (theory.vox.com).

In order to keep myself current in terms of blogging tools, I decided to check out Vox. As far as I can tell, Blogger.com and Wordpress.com remain the most popular blogging services used for demo purposes due to what I deem as good grounding of basic blogging features. Compared to those two, Vox.com seems a little late on the scene. However, it has a solid reputation as far as blog hosting services goes -- Vox.com is by Six Apart, the company that provide TypePad, Movable Type, and LiveJournal.

Over the weekend, I managed to create a Vox account and a new blog (ivanchew.vox.com). Heh, this time round I didn't have to think too much about the blog name. Apparently, "IvanChew" was available so I might as well take it.

I have to say I'm impressed with Vox.com overall, even though it's given me some problems (lucky for Vox.com, I was keen on trying out Vox and didn't give up trying to see if the issues were resolved). It was clear to me Vox has done some serious thinking in terms of the features and level of integration that a blog tool should have. I've blogged (Voxed?) about it in my Vox blog -- on Vox features and inserting videos in Vox.

Overall verdict for Vox -- it's done a nice job, even if it seems a bit late on the blog hosting scene. If I were new to blogging and starting a blog for the first time, Vox might even be my first choice because it provides a photo and audio hosting service along with the blog.

But I'm not giving up my Blogger or Wordpress blogs for Vox anytime soon. To be honest, I don't think I'll ever give them up. All three services have their unique features, strengths and weaknesses. For instance:
  • Blogger allows multiple blogs to be created under one account (Wordpress.com followed suit relatively quickly), option to muck around with the blog template, ease of switching between WYSIWYG and HTML modes when composing posts, and Blogger Beta promises some new features that some bloggers have been hoping for quite some time. But I'm not sure if its design templates will be updated (they are relatively plain compared to Wordpress and Vox, but then again its advantage is also its simplicity...)
  • Wordpress.com allows new "web pages" to be created and maintained just like a blog post, the ability to create and manage categories, and a hassle-free built-in statistical reports. But it's interface is not as intuitive as Blogger.com and Vox.
  • Vox's advantage is its well-integrated photo and video hosting, loads of blog templates and other features that promotes interaction among Vox users. But more sophisticated users, especially those already used to using external photo/ audio/ video hosting services, might not see the integrated features as a bonus. Other missing features include Trackbacks and site reporting tools.
A few minutes ago, I recommended Vox.com to someone over IM. She said she wanted a blog tool that allowed her to upload audio files. She's not as inclined to explore external services like what I'm doing, so I think Vox would be perfect for her.

I quite like Vox too and I wonder if I should post more frequently at my Vox blog. I know to some of you, I already have one blog too many. But maybe it's the librarian in me who sees the use of subject or "intent-specific" blogs. Each blog serves its own purpose and audience.

Another reason why I might maintain the Vox blog is because the Vox URL is specifically for me (ivanchew.vox.com), rather than tied to an industry (ramblinglibrarian) or a hobby (MyRightBrain). But if you're expecting me to share really personal stuff over there, let's just say I'll be as personal as I have been in all the other blogs I maintain : )


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2 comments:

  1. Vox had an invitation-only launch which generated a bit of buzz, but after that there seemed to be little momentum on user signups. As we talked about, most people who blog on existing blog platform might not see a benefit to switch, and people new to blogging might join the older platform simply because there's a captive support group (network effect).

    Mena (co-founder of Six Apart) did a demo once showing how it's so easy to use that even her mother can do it. This is to demonstrate ease of use.

    If I'm not mistaken, the other selling aspect of VOX is really that it's like LiveJournal on steroids. On all our VOX pages, you'll see a sidebar where you can watch what others in your neighborhood (friends) are doing. This is a very important socializing aspect that's missing from a lot of blog systems. In other words, it's giving tools for staying connected with friends, compared to normal blogs where it could be more isolated than social.

    Good timing with your post Ivan, Wired just did an interview with the VOX people here: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/internet/0,72072-0.html?tw=wn_index_3

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  2. Thanks for the referral to the Wired article, Kevin. Having just read it, it adds a lot more context to what I've understood just by exploring Vox only.

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