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Blogging for business, Part Two

May 05, 20033 mins

Need a quick and dirty collaboration space? Consider the klog.

With employees in Boston, San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, collaborating on projects could have been costly for UserLand Software.

Too small and dispersed for a corporate intranet, the Acton, Mass., firm needed a way to share key information. So instead, they klog.

Klogs, or knowledge logs, are Weblogs (a.k.a. blogs) designed to let small workgroups share information in a private forum. UserLand workers, contract programmers and developers log in to the site, and publish or edit projects – making changes for all to see. They also can post comments on discussion boards.

“[With] blogs and klogs people focus, get ideas down, and get into a communicable state,” says John Robb, UserLand’s CEO. The firm has developed two blogging products, Manila and Radio. Manila is an enterprise publishing and content management system that supports hundreds of Weblogs on a firm’s intranet, and includes discussion groups and e-mail bulletins.

For smaller firms lacking an intranet or the resources to host a Web server, there’s UserLand’s Radio. Run from a desktop, Radio automatically builds the site, organizes and archives posts, and publishes content. Compatible with Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, Radio lets users publish written text, links, photos and documents. The software FTPs the blog or klog to any location, including an existing Web or blog site.

Robb’s klogs are hosted on his server housed at a California ISP, but his company’s large clients – Daimler-Chrysler, Dupont and Los Alamos National Laboratory — would never dream of putting proprietary content on a hosted site. Another benefit of keeping the klog in-house: Employees can search the content, increasing the knowledge available throughout the enterprise.

Like blogs, klogs can be accessed by anyone with the user ID and password, or be made open to outsiders. Consultants can create their own klogs, and invite customers or clients to visit to review projects, make changes and peruse works in progress. Robb uses certain klogs to open discussions with product users or consumers to learn what they think of his product. Alternatively, he can use the “editors only” feature to restrict the klog to a select few.

Additionally, bloggers and kloggers can use blog software news aggregators to collect news, and then post it to their personal logs, which then can be opened to others in the organization.

“It creates live knowledge streams,” Robb says. “We think more information is better. If someone has a problem, other people in the community can step in. You get customers helping customers. That also gives them commitment to the product, which is a good way to run a company.”

Manila costs $899, and is part of UserLand’s Frontier Content Management System.