May 19, 2004

How I use Movable Type

Dear Six Apart,

I am a happy user of Movable Type. In fact, I’ve already bought two licenses for MT3.0D, one commercial and one personal. However, there are still things I’m doing that won’t fit into either license, so I’m answer Mena’s challenge and describing how I use this great piece of software.

I drive ne(one)piphany, my main website, with Movable Type. I have three “sub-blogs” on this site, one for the main content, one for longer, categorized works, and one for generic pages that don’t fit under the other categories. In the future, I’d like to start a photoblog and an artblog at this same location (though those could be combined into either one separate blog or into the longer works blog — depending on how much I wanted to write special case code for display of indices). This site fits easily into the terms of the MT3 personal license.

I use MovableType to drive a bunch of personal logging projects on my other, less-public website. These comprise a movie log, a book log, a restaurant log, and some other “toy” projects, which are put up on whims and usually stick around until I get tired of them. I may or may not ever make these public; sometimes they’re just there as interesting toys that later find a real use. For example, one of those projects was a category-based cross-referenced photo album which I eventually used to generate the HTML for my high school 5-year reunion website. On this site, there’s also a private writers’ forum which I drive using MT as well. Though several folks contribute and read, only I have author posting privileges. Of course, these are all things I could do with other tools, both on and off the webserver. But I use MT because it does everything I need, and does it well.

The weblogs on that site are a little murkier under the terms of license — though they all live under the same domain, they are not all accessible from the front page nor accessible from each other, nor can I really say that they are all part of a coherent whole. So I’m uneasy with assuming that these fall under acceptable use. On the other hand, it is really convenient to use the same CMS I use for my blogging for these side projects.

So two sites as far as licensing goes (ignoring my concerns above about the defiition of “one site at one URL”), and one author. So far, so good.

I also run a group blog, which is the category which is currently not covered at all under the current licenses. It evolved from a sort of fansite for a specific online game, but after the game went offline it evolved into something a little different — not quite a fansite anymore, but a place where a few folks with a common bond can engage in freeform, whimsical and artistic expression. There are maybe 45 people on the authors list (in the interest of openness, I opened accounts to all interested), though I can’t imagine that in any given chunk of time more than 4 or 5 are ever “active.” Problem is, active numbers have gone up and down unpredictably over time. So first of all, there are far more authors than are allowed by any of the licenses (unless you count an add-on from the top personal license, which would be ~$500), and no flexibility on the lower end if I only wanted to “predict” how many would become active at any given time. And what if active authorship goes down?

The site is a labor of love, and if it can’t be brought into compliance then I’ll probably just shut it down. I don’t have the energy to maintain multiple CMS installations just to run this site. Of course, I fully understand if sites like mine weren’t meant to be allowed under MT. However, even if it doesn’t include mine, I feel there still needs to be some provision for group blogging inder the MT license. I’m not talking about forums, or anything even remotely looking like slashdot. These are small, quiet sites that turn collaboration into something special, usually without any profit potential whatsoever, and for me at least figure into a lot of what made MT special in the first place. How many other tools “back then” dealt so elegantly with multiple authors? And yet, these are the types of projects most likely to be non-starters or fade away now that there’s no place for them in the licenses.

Finally, before the new licensing clarifications were posted, I was in agreement with Jason Kottke’s take on personal licensing. And I still am now. But I understand realities as well. I only hope that some way can be figured out to help keep the spirits of innovation and expression alive without denying Six Apart its just reward as well.

That’s all I have to say! I’ve already put in my $270 for MT3.0D, so hopefully you’ll at least pay attention to those two additional pennies. :) And as always, thanks for a great product! Even if I don’t get to use it for everything I once did, I’ll still use it, and happily.

Posted by eden on 19 May 2004 | Comments (0)