Hello, Photoblogging

The Hello BloggerBot

By Biz Stone

In 1944 while on vacation with his family in New Mexico, Edwin Land experienced a flash of genius. His daughter asked him why she had to wait to see the photograph he had just taken and within an hour, Land had visualized a one-step process for producing photographs within sixty seconds. The instant camera was born. Shake it Edwin. Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Welcome to the Future

Walking around with a stack of images printed on plastic and showing them to friends you happen to bump into was a perfectly acceptable way to share your photos. In the Fifties. People, this is the future. We have blogs, we have digital cameras, and now we have a robot that brings the two together.

Meet BloggerBot

The fine folks at Picasa have worked with us to create the quickest, easiest way for Windows users to send photos to a blog—via IM. That's right, Instant Messaging has gone to the blogs. The IM client they built is called Hello. It's a peer-to-peer networking application that enables users to share photos and text-chat about them live. It's a snazzy little app but it's even more impressive when it's engineered to work seamlessly with Blogger.

1. Choose a photo.

2. Chat with BloggerBot

3. Post - It's on your blog!

BloggerBot waits patiently in the Hello client along with the names of your buddies. When you have a photo you want to post, just drag it to BloggerBot, add an optional caption, and it is inst-o-matically published to your blog. Now you're sharing your photos within seconds to the entire wired world. And get this: we host your photos for free. How do you like them apples, Mr. Land?

See: Introducing BloggerBot

Why Photoblog?

I've kept a blog for over four years but like many people I'm only just now getting into digital photography. With my little digi-cam I can take hundreds of photos and never have to think about buying film. That means I'm free to document anything and everything and then just share the best parts. But what good are all those photos if I don't have an easy way to show them off? Blogger is the easiest way to get your words on the web so it's about time we made it easy to get your photos on there too. After all, you know what they say: "A picture is worth about 20 blog posts." I love those old sayings.

Blogging has been steadily growing in popularity over the last five years for very obvious reasons—it's easy and people have use for it. More and more people turn to blogging every day to publish their ideas to the web or to stay connected to friends, family, and collegues. Add to that an increasing availability of inexpensive digital cameras and the fact that even cell phones now ship with built-in cameras, and there's a whole new population of people out there who expect sharing photos to be as easy as blogging. We agree with them.

Using BloggerBot

Existing (Windows-using) Blogger members can just download and run Hello. BloggerBot will automatically be added to your friends list, and you can log in and get started posting pictures right away. If you don't have a Blogger account or a blog yet, BloggerBot will help you make one. Maybe you prefer to start your blog before downloading Hello? That's fine too, go for it.

See: Download Hello
See: Create A New Blogger Account

When you use BloggerBot to send a picture to your blog it gets automatically resized, your caption gets added, and your blog is updated with the new photo-post. You don't have to resize the picture, fiddle around with file transfer, format HTML, or worry about the hosting. It's all done in seconds with a simple drag-and-drop. So the blog post looks great and your readers can click the picture to see the bigger version. Also, if you've got commenting enabled on your blog then your friends and family can leave you some notes about the picture you just posted.

See: Shellen's Example Photoblog
See: How Do I Add Comments To My Posts?

Other Cool Features

If you want to link to a web site but you're feeling particularly picture-ish, then you can use BloggerBot to snap a screenshot of the site you want to link to and send that along to your blog just like you would a photo. Visual web linking is great when you want to capture a page for posterity before it changes.

While we're on the subject of change, I should mention that all the BloggerBot settings are customizable. Picture sizes, caption layout, border styles and other preferences can be adjusted to suit your blogging style. Of course, you can also edit or delete your pictures and posts whenever you want. It's also worth mentioning that Hello works well with Picasa-the-product which is photo-organizing software often called "iPhoto for Windows."

Getting Visual

Edwin Land knew he was on to something when his demonstration of instant film astonished the Optical Society of America. I knew we were on to something when Evan Williams tried BloggerBot out a few weeks ago and I heard him say, "Wow. That's hot!" His eyebrows stayed raised for a good ten minutes. I think he even jumped up and down a little bit. Not everyone will have the same reaction. Nevertheless, blogging just got a lot more visual.

Biz Stone works at Google on Blogger and is the author of two books about blogging.

Phillip E. Pascuzzo is a designer and illustrator living in New York.

Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 18:05