Sunday, February 28, 2010

whither the blog?

Recently I checked my gMail inbox to find a message from Google: they will no longer be supporting FTP-published blogs. Originally the day of execution was set at March 26, but apparently there were enough screams from the FTP-publishing crowd that they pushed it back to May 1.

You may not know or care about blog publishing, FTP-based or otherwise, but I did when I set up this blog, and I still do. The biggest change under the new Blogger regime is that all blogs must be hosted at Blogger. That means all the content you place on your blog will reside on Google's servers somewhere, servers that you have no access to, other than through the Blogger software that Google makes available to you.

Now, Blogger is (so far) a free service provided by Google, but this looks like a power grab to me. Why do they want to host all blog content? Their explanations for what they're doing have to do with the percentage of FTP-published blogs (they say 0.5%) versus the amount of resources they devote to maintaining the FTP-publishing platform, which is many times that -- but let's face it, if it were 2% of their resources, that would be 4 times 0.5, and they could justifiably say that four is "many".

We all know there are millions of blogs out there where some goof published a single post and then never looked at it again. On the other hand, most FTP-published blogs are owned and operated, and updated frequently, by people who actively manage their web content, and for whom a blog is only part of what they're doing with their domain. I like having that level of control, and I especially like having my blog files on a host that I can access -- and back up -- whenever I feel like it, using simple tools like FireFTP.

I'm still trying to decide what to do with this blog. When I first started it, my children were very young and I was consequently stuck at home a lot, and it was a good outlet. Then when I was diagnosed with cancer, it was an invaluable tool, allowing me to document my diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I still check my own archives for dates of procedures and specifics of treatment. Over the past few years, it has devolved into a sort-of diary, and I update most about vacations and special events that I'd like to remember. Even that usage has fallen off, as I use Facebook to update family and friends now.

Another consideration that weighs heavily on me is that I'll soon be looking to re-enter the workforce as a teacher. Anything I post on this blog is available to everyone to read, and it would be foolish for me to use this blog as a place to vent, as I have some times in the past. I'm trying to decide whether or not it makes sense to port this blog to a new platform, or to just leave it for now, hoping that Blogger won't someday discontinue their support for already-published, no longer updated, FTP blogs.

I don't trust Google to keep the read-only functionality in place, and I don't want them hosting my blog. I'll have to investigate what it will take to move to WordPress or TypePad or one of the other blogging platforms. I'm not holding out much hope that they'll back off from this decision (even though the release of their porting tool just hit a snag) -- since we've never paid for this service, we FTP-publishers have zero leverage.