Looking all shiny and spiffy today are our colleagues over at the blogging network hosted by Nature. After some downtime to install a new blogging platform, Movable Type 4, Nature Network blogs are back with a much more pleasing aesthetic and a more user-friendly interface.
For those readers who don’t have their own blog, the publishing software behind the scenes makes a big difference in how easily (or not) you can post text, photos and multimedia, and add all sorts of widgets and personalization features. I started, for example, on Blogspot with the Blogger interface (owned by Google) but had I to do it over again today I would have used WordPress where, for example, our favorite literary bartender scribbler50 works his weekly shift at Behind The Stick. Both of these are free services that allow you to start a blog in literally 30 min. WordPress also has a local version of their software you can use to further personalize blog templates and host a more SEO version of your blog.
If this is gibberish to you, just go over to the new Nature Networks interface. It now has a nice Recent Posts list analogous to the Last 24 Hours feature at ScienceBlogs.That was actually the original frontpage of ScienceBlogs when launched in January 2006 and I still find that to be the more useful for a quick look at things than the main frontpage here.
But some cool stuff Nature Networks now has is a Most Commented page to follow the posts with the most involved conversations, a Recent Comments page, and a Popular Blogs tab that permits one to list blogs by activity (which I assume to mean page views), ascending and descending alphabetical order, and by the wonderfully British term: recency.
One still is required to register to comment at Nature Network blogs, a feature that for good or for bad is generally an energy-of-activation barrier for some that limits the conversation. But what I *love* about the new Nature Network format is that I can read the type. The default text is a larger and nicer font than what I have here and there is some white space between the lines that makes it more friendly to my 40-ish eyes. (By the way, bloggers can alter their text settings here to make the appearance more friendly as does Revere(s) at Effect Measure but I don’t yet know enough HTML to work on my own custom style sheet, or CSS).
Here’s a nice example of the text from my fellow Colorado expat colleague, Kristi Vogel at The Gulf Stream. You’ve got a nice wide main text column and then two right-hand column for profiles, widgets, and other typical blog detritus. It also looks as though bloggers will have more opportunity to personalize the appearance of their blogs to provide better distinguishing between the writers and cultivation of their personal brand.
Oh yeah, and there’s content as well. For a nice example, take a gander at this insightful post by Dr. Eva Amsen at her blog, Expression Patterns, on why she chose not to do a postdoctoral fellowship.
So, happy day to you my colleagues at Nature Network blogs. Enjoy your shiny new toy!