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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
A life pictured online
Dot.life - where technology meets life, every Monday
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent

Taking a picture of the London Eye with a phone camera
Here's what I did on my hols
Now there's something else to do with that funky camera phone. Keep a moblog.

That mobile phones with cameras onboard are popular is no surprise. And on net, weblogs - or blogs - are fast winning fans.

Now the two have come together in moblogs, in which people post pictures, text and even video from their phone.

One of the biggest moblogging sites is Text America, which at barely a year old has more than 500,000 registered users. About one-fifth regularly file pictures; the rest browse the images and post comments... at least until they get their own camera phones.

Moblogging was originally event-driven, as a kind of grassroots, on-the-scene reportage that provided different pictorial perspectives on demonstrations, flash mobs and the like. But now it has broadened out.

Just as blogging started to take off when sites and software which made it easier to write and update sites started to appear, the same thing is happening with moblogs.

Sites such as Vodablog, Buzznet, Moblog UK, Fotopics and Yafro (started by one of the founders of Am I Hot or Not?) all make it easy to file pictures.

Most ask users to register and supply an e-mail address or phone number from where the pictures - and increasingly videos - will arrive from. When an image is filed, they do the rest.

Pictures paints 1,000 words

Alfie Dennen, co-founder of Moblog UK, said all kinds of uses are being found for the picture-based journals.

Baby twins
Distant relatives can check on juniors' progress
Some help relatives far apart keep in touch and see what other family members are up to; others are snaps of images or incidents that would otherwise be lost.

Then there are images composed solely for moblogging, such as a series of snaps of a toy rabbit in picturesque locations around the world which features on Moblog UK.

Often moblog images are about capturing the image, rather than getting a good quality shot, as most handset currently available take low resolution images. But this will change as mega pixel camera phones become available.

Marc Brown, the president of Buzznet, says sharing is a natural fit with digital photography.

"How often do you see people pass around their camera phone to show the photo they just took?"

At present, far more people view the pictures on Buzznet moblogs than take them, he says.

Cash cow

Moblogging looks set to get another boost as phone makers and operators get in on the trend.

Last month Vodafone launched its Vodablog site that lets people post photos and videos from their multimedia-capable phones.

Sticker in San Jose, BBC
See a sight, snap it up
Phone maker Ericsson has launched its own site, and Nokia plans to do the same - although the software and website are yet to appear.

If moblogging appeals, it's worth browsing the various sites available before picking one that suits.

Some, such as Text America, retain copyright on the images, although it's not yet clear what this will mean if an image becomes hugely popular or controversial.

Mr Dennen says it's also worth checking to find out how messages can be sent in. Some mobile phone operators are looking at moblogging sites as a way to boost the cash they get from multimedia messages. If the only way to post images is via MMS, that can be expensive. Others allow users to e-mail in pictures, which usually works out much cheaper.

And, if nothing else, a moblog may be one way to justify splashing out on that expensive phone.


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