Naver's "Blog Season 2, Episode 2"

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/04 23:06 | Web 2.0 Asia
Naver, the undisputed king of Korean portal that's worth some $8 billion, recently (on July 27) unveiled new sets of features for its blogging service.
Note: Naver calls its new blogging service "Naver Blog Season 2" and calls each installment of new features "Episodes". This time they announced the second major update, hence the name "Episode 2."
The newly introduced features are actually quite impressive. What I liked the most was "Layout" feature which allows user to write a blog post that looks like a magazine article. Quite eye-pleasing and elegant.
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Layout feature

Also neat is various blog templates that give the user the optimal format for writing different types of posts, such as product reviews, cooking recipes, travel diaries, etc. Reminds me of structured blogging, although I'm not sure if the Naver blog templates are Microformat-compatible.

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Blog templates, reminiscent of structured blogging

Naver blog users can also easily insert metadata (e.g. images, links, purchase links etc) of objects inserted in the post. For example, if you are writing about Al Gore's new book, you can easily insert Who's Who information on Al Gore and the e-commerce link to Gore's new book onto your blog post. This is similar to what Vox offers with its one-click import of Flickr photos and Amazon book information. But on Naver, one can only import metadata from within Naver database. Naver isn't exactly well known for embracing the open internet.
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Easy import from Naver DB when writing a blog post

Episode 2 also offers other features such as "photo wall" (which allows more aesthetic display of your photos - shown below), easier video uploading, and the enhanced WYSIWYG editor.  

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So Naver has the most number of blog users in Korea with its decent free service, but Naver's blog service isn't widely known as the top choice for power bloggers who regard themselves as personal media brand and generate authentic content. In terms of such metrics as page views per blog, Naver blog is not overwhelming, compared to more professional services like Tattertools (note: I'm the co-chair of the company behind Tattertools). It's like Microsoft Live Spaces vs. Wordpress, where the latter has far higher per-blog page views. But Naver blog Season 2 Episode 2 does offer nice features which will certainly give some fresh air to the service's existing users.
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