Blogs are great for many things. Images, text, graphics–they’re all relatively easy things to create and publish and so many blogs do so well with these functions. But if blogs are to become deeper and fuller representations of reality, they must add an element that is completely lacking from many, if not most blogs: music and video. By “music,” I don’t mean CD links to Amazon (yes, I have those). I don’t mean lamo “What I’m Listening to Now” features offered by one piece of blog publishing software. I mean the real thing–MUSIC.
If I write an album review of a terrfic piece of world music (as I do here periodically), I want you to hear what I’m crazy for. I was bowled over by the speeches of Barack Obama, Al Sharpton and Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. If I want to write a blog post about the speeches, wouldn’t it be great to offer the video to someone who wanted to hear/see the actual speech? After all, how can you write a post about a speech without having any representation of the actual speech?
If you want to do any of this it can be pretty hard. First, you must copy your files to your computer in low-quality file format in order to preserve blog bandwidith. Not to mention that large mp3 files take ages to upload (video files would be nigh unto impossible to upload since they’re huge & would rapidly exhaust server bandwidth). Even with such file condensing, you can easily use up all your server file space after uploading a few score of songs. If bloggers develop the use of music within their blogs as well as they have photography within blogs, then blog services are going to have to vastly increase the amount of server space and bandwidth available to their customers. Would they have the server capacity to do this? They should as I think that this development would immeasurably enrich the blog experience.
Then, some blog services like Typepad haven’t, in the past, marked uploaded music files correctly, which means browsers misread them as plain text files and cannot “play” them as audio. For example, I uploaded Josefins Dopvalz to a post which highlighted the song by Vasen. I discovered at the time that I couldn’t play this wma file in Mozilla, but I could in IE. A Mozilla forum member described the problem thus:
The server is telling the browser to display it as plaintext. On mine, it simply took forever to load, and showed gibberish in the window due to the incorrect MIME type.
Incorrect MIME types currently work in IE, but this will be fixed in WinXP SP2. When that happens, IE will just display it as plaintext also. Get your server configured properly before then…”
I notified TP about the problem, they acknowledged it as a problem that would be addressed, and finally did fix the problem though they never informed me that they had. Surely it’s a good thing that TP addressed and fixed the issue. But if there are such problems getting blog publishers to handle music files correctly should we be surprised that music isn’t playing a more prominent role in blogs?
Finally, blog services need to think about how to automate and streamline the process of music file uploading. I’m not expert enough at this to have clear ideas of what needs improving and what can and should be done. But it seems to me that uploading of text files and mp3 files are different enough that efforts should be made to help streamline the latter process.
Part of the reason that music hasn’t become more ever-present within blogs is the muddied waters over music file sharing. Some bloggers are intimidated by the pressure exerted by the music industry in labelling file sharing as criminal. Other bloggers perhaps are intimidated by the technological steps necessary to both copy the files and upload them to the blog server. Perhaps there are other reasons. All of this is unfortunate because blogs cry out for music and there isn’t enough out there in the blogworld.