Analysis of Project Comet Demonstration

Ok, finally found some more detailed information on Six Apart’s Project Comet and it is taken from Mena Trott’s own demonstration of Project Comet at the 2005 DEMOfall conference. The frustrating thing is that the video is slightly blurry so it is difficult to see what you are looking at. First off here’s a quote from the DEMOfall conference site that describes what the demo is supposed to be about.

Project Comet is a significant re-engineering of this pioneering blogging tool, providing greater control, flexibility and privacy in a workspace that lets you aggregate, store, publish and share any type of media asset. This new release illustrates the deep knowledge Six Apart has gained as a leader in the blog software market, and sets a tough new standard for other blog sites to follow.

Alright on to the analysis.

 

comet-demo-01.jpg

Ok this is the external public view of a Comet website. It looks like they used Mena’s Dollarshort website as an example (although it isn’t live because this site hasn’t been updated since June 13, 2005).

A couple of things to point out in the (blurry) picture. The header area has a picture of Mena with it. You’ll see a lot of this, especially in the backend, which uses small thumbnail portraits of people beside their related content. It makes it extremely easy to see who is talking about what.

The left main content area shows Mena’s posts grouped by day. Each post has a title above it and I think tag/topic information below it.

In the top right corner you’ll see what looks like a tag cloud similar to what Technorati or TagCloud does. In this case though, I believe this is more of a “topic” cloud which shows things that are of interest to me and what I’m talking about. I believe these are the “multiple streams” that Six Apart mentioned on their website about Project Comet.

And finally off to the bottom right you see a listing of books I believe that Mena has been reading. Now one thing you can’t see is the heading for the sidebar info. For example, the heading for her books reads something like “Books I’m Reading” with reading as a link to her full listing of books she’s read.

 

comet-demo-02.jpg

Ok, now to the backend area of Project Comet where we see the how this community aggregation of a network of people works.

Again in the top right corner header area we see a picture of Mena indicating that this is her aggregated view of her friends and family in her network. Beside her picture it looks like there are some menu options as well. Maybe they relate to her profile settings, not sure.

In the middle left we see what looks like the lastest four photo albums (or maybe photos) posted by people in her network. On the middle right, we see the latest media (i.e. books, music, movies, etc) that people in her network are reading, watching, and listening.

Below that in the bottom right, we see the latest blog posts from people in her network (and note the portrait thumbnail beside each post to easily see who has written what).

Finally in the bottom left corner, I think we’re seeing the most active conversations or maybe topics within her network, although not 100% sure since the text is so small.

 

comet-demo-03.jpg

Now we see a post being created with the main post entry area on the left and on the right is the “media asset" library (that they mentioned in the initial quote I wrote at the beginning of this post). I’m sure each of those different items on the right are different media types (i.e. photos, music, movies, books, podcasts, etc).

 

comet-demo-04.jpg

Here is the Photo “media asset" library open which we can then select an image and then drag and drop it to our post we’re writing. Yes, this is the drag and drop aspect of Comet that they mentioned (although in the demonstration he highlighted an image and clicked the insert button (or whatever it is called) on the bottom right of the dialogue window to insert it into his post. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to drag and drop from this library window as well though.

One thing that is very important to note here with regards to their dragging and dropping is that I doubt you will be able to “drag and drop” photos from your desktop directly into your post. Those photos need to be uploaded first somewhere into your library and then from there you can drag and drop them into your post. Actually Squarespace, the web publishing platform that I’m using right now can work in the same way. I can drag a photo from any web page and drop it directly into my post editing window. The image has to be online somewhere for this to work though.

Oh one more thing to note about this as well. These media asset libraries are basically just TypePad lists and photo albums with some more functionality added to them (i.e. sort by date, maybe see related posts tied to item, etc). So in the sidebar, as shown in their example, you are still seeing the latest books added to her TypePad Amazon Book List but somewhere on their I’m sure they’ll have the ability to click on a book and see the post that relates specifically with that list item (a book in this case). Or what they may do is use the Sidebar Title link again. Maybe when you click on the link in “Books I’m Reading” it takes you to a listing of your actually posts talking and reviewing the books you’ve read. This kind of makes more sense, as the sidebar TypePad list is just the current RSS stream of books you’re reading but the collection of journal posts would be all of the books that you read (with the topic stream name of “books” for them I’m assuming, which could also be accessed from the topic cloud in the top right corner of your site).

 

comet-demo-05.jpg

This is a photo of an image that has already been inserted in the post being dragged and dropped in the upper left corner of the post. If you look real closely you’ll see the outline of the image in the center of the post, including the black cursor, as it moves across the post into the upper left corner.

 

comet-demo-06.jpg

After getting the image and content where they want it, they selected some attribute information in the bottom left (note the popup selector list with the black cursor selecting something). I believe what they are doing here is selecting the appropriate stream topic that this content should be associated with. If I was talking about my cat, then I’d select “pets & animals” from the list (or create a new stream topic).

 

comet-demo-07.jpg

And here’s the completed post now being shown on the site’s front page.

 

After inserting the post, they clicked on one of the topics (in the stream topic cloud in the upper right corner of the page) which took them to this page which is a list of posts from her various family members (including herself) on the topic of “pets”. Note the right sidebar maintains pretty much the same content as the homepage (i.e. topic cloud, photo albums, and books being read).

What I’m not sure about this “dynamic view” as they called it, is whether this is what would be seen to the public or to just Mena. I’m assuming in this case it is what would be shared with the public in total. I think the more private information (say the stuff that only her mom wants to talk about) is shown in the backend only. Not 100% sure on this though.

 

comet-demo-09.jpg

Now remember before I mentioned before about the sidebar content titles have links on them (i.e. Books I’m Reading). Well this example shows a sidebar title being clicked. Again I’m not 100% sure but I think the title is something like “People in my Family”. Because when they click it, they get the view below.

 

comet-demo-10.jpg

The final shot from the demo. This is after the sidebar title, as I mentioned above, had been clicked. It shows another “dynamic page” of everything that Mena’s family is talking about. Again note the right sidebar content doesn’t change though, as it is still just showing Mena’s photo albums and books she’s reading, not her entire family’s photo albums and books they’re reading.

A final thing to note, each of these “dynamic pages” is almost like a “weblog” in themselves, which is what Six Apart was hinting at. In addition though, I still have the funny feeling that you can take these content topic streams and use them anywhere, even on another site. For example, let say Mena is a hardcore gamer who has a topic stream that talks about gaming. Well if she was in a clan, I’m sure she could create another weblog with it’s own design for her clan and stream her gaming topic stream to it, not to mention all of the content streams from her other clan members as well. Voila, you now have a “dynamic site” using content streams from different people in your network.

But what if she didn’t want this gaming content on her personal site? No problem, she still creates the content in her backend panel but it just isn’t shown on her personal weblog but instead on her aggregated community clan weblog with her gaming friends.