AOL Blogging: VA Product team shows goods to NY power bloggers

The AOL Community Products team showed the new AOL blogging tools–aka Journals– to some expert bloggers in New York earlier this week. “Sonic” Rick Robinson, and Andrea Spiegel, two super AOLers, led the delegation up to New York to show AOL’s new blogs to power bloggers Meg Hourihan, Anil Dash, Nick Denton, Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky.

Reaction was enthusiastic.
Jarvis says:
“If we are eager for Iraqis and Iranians to blog, we certainly should be eager for AOLers to blog. The more the better.
and
:AOL has an interesting internal challenge positioning this next to its homepage tool and even its member profiles (which some people use as a quasiblog).
They’ve decided to call the product AOL Journals and thus, position it as a community tool (read: LiveJournal) more than a publishing tool (read: Movable Type). The word “blog” is only part of the subtitle.
That’s wise. Community is what built the AOL empire.
(Really smart, Jeff, and so right.)
AOL team member Kevin wrote:
“We’re trying to play nice with the larger blogging community by supporting open standards like RSS feeds for blogs. We’re trying to talk to folks in the community to see where we should work with them. It?s unique in my involvement in AOL products, which is a great step in the right direction as far as I?m concerned.
[When the product does come out later this year, bear in mind that it’s a 1.0, there are other new features on the way, and it?s built for the AOL user in mind. That said, I?m not one who shies away from speaking my mind. There are some really cool features in the product at launch. RSS support will be in 1.0, along with a bunch of other stuff that I?m not going to tell you about. Ok, I?I’ll tell you one? You can send an IM to a bot and have it post to your blog with rich text support and other cool stuff (like add titles, etc).
Anil comments here.
More on AOL sneak-peeking the Journal at John Robb,
Side note: About 30 bloggers have pointed to Jeff’s item and are commenting on it. Results more comprehensive on Feedsterthan technorati right now.
Note: When I was at AOL, I spent some time pushing the value of blogging on Ric Robinson and Michael Sherrod, the two execs who own the new product. They were both extremely interested and receptive to my ideas.
What I did not realize at the time was how many other conversations AOL had going with folks about blogging (shows what a huge company it is, and how there were communications problems internally). Apparently, in addition to the talks with potential vendors, acquisitions, and partners that I was aware of, there were other conversations with folks now involved in the blogging space.
Seems like many people can imagine that they helped motivate the get AOL up this new product hill toward AOL Journals.
Of course, now the AOL challenge will be to seed the journals, educate users on how to work with them, and promote them appropriately…Those RSS feeds have huge potential to help AOL “elevate the member”, as we used to say.