AOL is to integrate Web logging software into the next version of its online service beginning this summer, introducing its 34 million subscribers to the increasingly popular medium.
Web logs, or "blogs", frequently updated personal journals, have taken off in popularity over the past few months. AOL's software will take advantage of a recent development of the technology, allowing people to "audioblog" over the telephone. Subscribers will also be able to update their blog via AOL Instant Messenger.
AOL is calling the tool "AOL Journals" because it said users found the term "blog" confusing. Introduced in AOL 9, which will be available in preview form this summer and will be launched in the UK early next year, the tool will let users update their blog by phone, over IM, or by the more usual method of filling in a form on a Web page.
Users will be able to post pictures to the blog from AOL's "You've Got Pictures" service, designed for storing and viewing digital photos.
The phone update will post blog entries as MP3 files, and will be available only to subscribers to the "AOL by Phone" service, available for an extra fee on top of the usual monthly subscription charge. The IM updates will only work over AOL's internal messaging service, not with the stand-alone IM software, which is available to non-subscribers.
The blogs will support the RSS protocol, allowing it to be displayed outside of a Web browser by an RSS-based news-reading program.