This week finds me enjoying some nice spring weather on a road trip down through BC. Save for heavy snow through the mountains in the north, it’s been a brilliant journey.
As you might expect, I’ve injected a good dose of technology into my traipse through this vast expanse of nature, and I’m not talking about a CB radio.
When I see something interesting – like a grizzly bear feasting on a moose carcass – I pull out my cell phone and snap a shot. A few seconds later I’ve got it posted on my blog for the world to enjoy (or gag at, as the case may be), direct from my handset.
Yeah, it’s that easy. It’s also that annoying for my family and friends; driving solo can be a boring undertaking and I think they’re getting a bit overwhelmed by the volume of posts I’m generating.
You might be surprised to learn that most of B.C.’s highway system is covered by digital cell access, so I can literally snap a picture wherever I am and have it online in no time.
Web publishing on the run is popularly referred to as “moblogging,” or mobile blogging. In essence, it’s web authoring with your cell phone, and there are a few ways to do it.
Moblogging started out as a creative use for email. Back in the day, you’d get a secret email address along with your blog. Anything delivered to that address would be instantly published on your blog. To put a photo on your site, you’d include it as an attachment.
Email-based moblogging is still very common, but some blogs offer a special software client you can install on your cell phone to make it all more convenient.
My personal blog, for example, is on a free service called Vox. They offer a special piece of moblogging software that I can use to capture photos and videos directly into a blog entry.
The hitch (there’s always a hitch, right?) is that you’ll require a data access package attached to your mobile account. So don’t just get all moblog-crazy and go uploading pictures to your blog before you make sure you’ve subscribed to one of these things.
Although data access packages are expensive (I pay $60 a month for a mere 30 megabytes of data transfer privileges), they’re a bargain compared to what your cell company will charge you for ad-hoc use (usually around $50 per megabyte).
Moblogging isn’t limited to pictures. Of course, you can do straight text, if you’re crazy about mangling your fingers on a tiny keypad. Most blogs can also support video these days, which is especially cool (and especially hard on your mobile data access package).
Be warned that not all blog services have worked out the kinks with mobile video. Vox, for example, claims to offer mobile video publishing, but I’ve never managed to get it to work.
Even at home I’m a moblog maniac. The convenience of being able to instantly publish a photo of my son at the park sure beats screwing around with a PC hours after the fact.
For me, moblogging is also sort of like a journal.
It’s fun to sit down every few days and look over my moblog entries. It reveals a new angle of what I did and often serves to remind me of things I’ve forgotten about.
And on the road, moblogging’s been particularly helpful for keeping track of how much progress I’m not making because I’m so busy screwing around with my cell phone.