How to create a Moblog with MoveableType and Flickr

What’s the point?

Having the ability to share a picture with context immediately for the world to not only see, but come back to later without me having to be at a computer, and instead in the real-world is a fantastic concept, and great ability to have. However, others have already begun exploiting some of the potential since Moblogging isn’t new in Information Age technology terms. I just didn’t find an all inclusive tutorial in the first 10 results on a google search, so here is my attempt to help those who want to know how.

Some people merely insert side bars and/or other small, visual incorporations of their moblog photos into their existing blog or site. Others do moblogging full time using moblogging service & community sites.

What is a Moblog?

Blogging from a mobile device, typically via sending an email. The word “moblog” comes from combining the word “mobile” and “blog”, to imply the definition of “mobile blog”, mobile being a mobile device, not the act of being mobile. Another way to say it is “a blog that is being blogged to primarely via a mobile device.”

What is MoveableType?

Software used to create and maintain a weblog. Unlike services such as LiveJournal or Blogger, you have control over the software and must set it up on your server. This allows for more control and more work compared to creating a blog using one of the aforementioned services.

What is Flickr?

Per their site, “The best way to store, search, sort, and share your photos”. You can upload your photos from your computer, organize them in your web browser, and you as well as the rest of the world (or only those you deem allowed) can see your photos. Since it’s web based, you can access your photos as well as the application anywhere you have an internet connection and a web browser.

Why would you use Flickr for a Moblog?

Flickr has the ability to automatically log into your MoveableType account, create a new entry using the image and text you emailed it from your mobile device, typically a camera phone. This allows you to blog a picture with text from anywhere you can use your phone, anytime, no computer or web browser required. Typing on a phone without a keyboard is tiresome to say the least, though, and considering Flickr is mostly about sharing photos with short descriptions, this is a winning combination.

How do you do it?

You’ll first need to have a MoveableType blog, and a Flickr account. Once you have those, come back.

For MoveableType:
*** I highly recommend NOT using Firefox’s tabbed browsing for the following steps. It can get confusing editing multiple blogs at once. I accidentally fubarred my blog because I got the configuaration options confused (had a 50/50 chance). ***
– on the main screen (screen right after you log in), create a new Journal. For search engine and indexing purposes, it helps to have “Moblog” in the title of the blog itself. This gives viewers context as to what the blog is.

– During Core Setup, you’ll typically want your blog’s URL and assets to exist in a different folder upon your server. I just made a moblog folder on my existing MoveableType website, and then put an archives folder in it. Then, just copied the existing configuration options from my normal blog into the new ones, appending “moblog” and “archives” where necessarey for the directory paths.

– For site Preferences itself, I personally turn off pinging sites such as, etc. However, if you have an active readership that would be interested in a moblog, that is fine. My eventual goals are to incorporate my moblog into a my existing site, so there is no point to be notified of an upated blog entry when it’s really just a moblog picture post from Flickr.

– Additionally, because the pictures link to their full resolution images on Flickr, I turn trackbacks and commenting off totally. Since Flickr supports comments, and has community networking built in, using the site for what it does best is more appropriate than having redundant comments and trackbacking enabled for a Moblog on MoveableType, unless again your Moblog has a different readership. You can inform your user if they wish to comment or link to head to the your image on Flickr.

– After you’ve configured everything else to your liking, go back to the main page. Create a new author for your new Moblog, and give them the name of “flickr”, that way you can immediately associate who the user is, in this case the Flickr web application. I highly suggest you give it a different password for security purposes. Flickr will remember this so you don’t have to. Ensure for permissions that they can “login”.

– Log out and then log back in as “flickr” to ensure your author creation worked. Rebuild your site.

For Flickr:
– Log in to Flickr.

– Scroll to the bottom, and the 2nd column that says “Your Account” should have a link in the list called “Upload-by-email”. Click this link.

– It should show the email to email your pictures too to post to Flickr. However, below that should be a link asking you to setup a blog if you have not to email too. Click that link to setup your blog. The instructions are good; basically you point to your mt.cgi file, the same file you hit to log into MoveableType, give it your login info, and choose a template to post with (mine doesn’t work though, hehe). Flickr can guide you through the rest.

– Once done, do a test post through Flickr. If you see the test post, your good excluding one configuration option that may be off. By default, my phone sets the subject to something that I can change via menus. However, the description that I type in becomes the actual blog entry. This for some reason is off in Flickr. Go back to the “Upload-by-email” link. Now that you’ve created your blog, you should see a sentence at the bottom that shows below the Moblog email (probably the email above with “2blog” appended to it), and click the link in the sentence for additional configurations.

– The 2nd option is “Shall we post the body of the email as your blog post for you as well?”; turn this on, it’s off by default at the time of this writing. Hit save. Stay logged into Flickr.

For your device (assuming camera phone):
– I just added a contact in my phone called “Flickr”. Since it is the only contact that has an email address, when I view a picture and click send > via multimedia message, it’s the only name that appears so it’s easy! I then edit the subject via 50 million sub-menu’s, and then type in my short description. After hitting send, and getting confirmation the email’s sent, go back to Flickr and see if your photo is there. If it is, and the description matches, then go to your new moblog and see if it updated the entry. If you don’t see your picture on Flickr after an hour, it could be latency, or your phone. If you see the picture, but no entry on your moblog after an hour, it is most likely your configuration in Flickr, assuming the test post you did earlier did in fact go through.

Conclusion & Resources

I hope that helps you get started, or at least get context to what a Moblog is.

JesterXL’s Moblog


Definitions of a Moblog
Joi Ito’s Radio Outline
Wikipedia’s Definition

Moblog Service and/or Community Sites

Tutorial for a Moblog sidebar in MoveableType