In December, Movable Type announced a new product called "Motion," which integrates activity streams, microblogging, and portable identities into a software package that can be installed into the company's hosted publishing platform, Movable Type Pro. Now, after much testing and feedback, Motion for Movable Type has become publicly available. With this software, built on open standards, blogs can add social activity streams to their site. These are similar in appearance to those from the social web aggregation service FriendFeed, but are entirely within the blog owner's control. Motion also adds a social networking element to online communities with its user profiles and authentication tools that permit signing in from any provider, including Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, or OpenID.
The Motion software package is completely customizable, too. Blog owners can choose to implement all of its features or can pick and choose just the ones they want. There are a few main components to what Motion can offer: microblogging, activity streams, authentication tools, and profiles.
With Motion's microblogging feature, blogs can create either a private or public microblog or both. A private microblog could be used for internal employee or team collaboration, for example, whereas a public microblog would let you share with your online community. Arising from the ashes of Pownce, the company acquired by Movable Type back in December, this feature has some resemblance to that service as it also includes richer microblogging features that the former Pownce competitor Twitter does. In fact, Motion's microblogging service is more like FriendFeed as it allows you to post links, images, audio, and video in addition to text.
Also like FriendFeed, Motion includes an activity streams feature which they call "Action Streams." These streams are created by members collecting and sharing information from over 150 other sites supported by Six Apart's Action Streams service that launched in January 2009. The difference between Action Streams, which are implemented using a special blog plugin, and similar social networking services like FriendFeed or Plaxo is control. Site owners can selectively choose to show or hide individual actions in this decentralized framework. Also, Action Streams are published using Atom and the Microformat hAtom standard so they are not trapped in any one service.
Another aspect to Motion is its authentication tools which let users sign in with any existing account from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, or any OpenID provider. According to Movable Type, this opens up your community to over half a billion web users who can now comment or vote on your content without having to create a new account. However, members who wish to participate in the microblog as opposed to just the blog itself are still encouraged to register with the site. Movable Type believes this strikes a good balance between allowing for participation while also providing a compelling reason to register with an online community.
Finally, Motion users are provided with online profiles which show their actions from around the web. Site members can follow each other and upload profile pictures just as they would on any other social network. As with the company's other blogging products like TypePad and Vox, members' profiles can also list their other accounts from around the web. These are imported by using Microformats to link to those sites.
If you're curious about what Motion looks like in action, you can check it out on BikeHugger (click on "Latest Activity" to see Action Streams) or visit the microblogging community on Real Estate Channel. You can also sign up for a demo for more information.
Current Movable Type Pro users can go here to download the plugin.