Listing entries tagged with technorati
blogburst 04.10.2006, 4:14 PM
A small Austin, TX-based company called Pluck is launching a new blog aggregation service called BlogBurst that will filter postings from hundreds of approved bloggers and syndicate their content to major news services (and eventually smaller niche publications as well). Tomorrow, BlogBurst lets rip its fire hose of content at a handful of major newspapers including USA Today publisher Gannett Co., The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and local pubs The Austin American-Statesman and San Antonio Express. Some are calling this a further blurring of the boundary between mainstream and independent medias. Seems to me more like an expansion of the umbrella of the former and a buttressing of the oft-lamented "power law" with regard to the latter (how the most popular blogs get entrenched in an "A-list" in spite of popular belief a level playing field). The AP has more.
Any blogger can sign up with BlogBurst but some editorial body there decides which blogs go into the syndication feed. Presumably, if the thing takes off, they'll start breaking it up into multiple feeds -- some generalized, some specialized. Participating publishers are povided with "editorial management tools" called the "publisher workbench." So if I'm a newspaper, I receive a daily dump of thousands of blog postings, broken down into different topic areas. I fiddle around with those in the workbench, choose the ones I want, and then plug them into various slots in my paper. Technically, it works like this (warning, acroynum blitz):
Incidentally, the name blogburst is a bit of co-opted net jargon describing any coordinated effort by bloggers to flood the web with postings on a particular topic -- usually some hot-button issue like the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. Search "blogburst" today on Technorati and you'll find a slew of right wing bloggers on a "guard the borders" rhetorical rampage (ha! idealistic me, I initially thought they meant the borders between mainstream and grassroots media!).
Meanwhile, as I write, thousands march down Broadway in New York -- blogging, as it were, with their feet -- in support of America's illegal immigrants.
I wonder how the two-capital-Bs BlogBurst will deal with the political polarization of blogs.
Posted by ben vershbow at 04:14 PM
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tags: Blogosphere , RSS , aggregation , blogburst , blogging , immigration , journalism , media , newspaper , power_law , syndication , technorati
thinking about blogging 1: process versus product 02.28.2006, 7:53 AM
Thinking about blogging: where's it's been and where it's going. Recently I found food for thought in a smart but ultimately misguided essay by Trevor Butterworth in the Financial Times. In it, he decries blogging as a parasitic binge:
...blogging in the US is not reflective of the kind of deep social and political change that lay behind the alternative press in the 1960s. Instead, its dependency on old media for its material brings to mind Swift's fleas sucking upon other fleas "ad infinitum": somewhere there has to be a host for feeding to begin. That blogs will one day rule the media world is a triumph of optimism over parasitism.
While his critique is not without merit, Butterworth ultimately misses the forest for the fleas, fixating on the extremes of the phenomenon -- the tiny tier of popular "establishment" bloggers and the millions of obscure hacks endlessly recycling news and gossip -- while overlooking the thousands of mid-level blogs devoted to specialized or esoteric subjects not adequately covered -- or not covered at all -- by the press. Technorati founder David Sifry recently dubbed this the "magic middle" of the blogosphere -- that group of roughly 150,000 sites falling somewhere between the short head and the long tail of the popularity graph. Notable as the establishment bloggers are, I would argue that it's the middle stratum that has done the most in advancing serious discourse online. Here we are not talking about antagonism between big and small media, but rather a filling out of the media ecosystem -- where a proliferation of niches, like pixels on a screen, improves the resolution of our image of the world.
At their worst, bloggers -- like Swift's reiterative fleas -- bounce ineffectually off the press's opacities. But sometimes the collective feeding frenzy can expose flaws in the system. Moreover, there are some out there that have the knowledge and insight to decode what the press reports yet fails to adequately analyze. And there others still who are not tied so inexorably to the news cycle but follow their own daemon.
To me, Swift's satire, while humorously portraying the endless cycle of literary derivation, also suggests a healthier notion of process -- less parasitic and more cumulative. At best transformative. The natural accretion over time of ideas and tradition. It's only natural that poets build -- or feed -- on the past. They feel the nip at their behinds. They channel and reinvent. As do scholars and philosophers.
But having some expertise and knowing how to craft a sentence does not necessarily mean one is meant to blog. In an amusing passage, Butterfield speculates on how things might how gone horribly awry had George Orwell (oft hailed as a proto-blogger) been given the opportunity to maintain a daily journal online (think tedious rambling on the virtues of English cuisine). Good blogging requires not only a voice, but a special commitment -- a compulsion even -- to air one's thinking in real time. A relish for working through ideas in the open, often before they're fully baked.
But evidently Butterfield hasn't considered the merits of blogging as a process. He remains terminally hung up on the product, concluding that blogging "renders the word even more evanescent than journalism" and is "the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence." Fine. Blogging is in many ways a vaporous pursuit, but then so is conversation -- so is theatre. Blogging, in its essence, is about discussion and about working through ideas. And, I would argue, it is as much about reading as it is about writing.
Back in August, I wrote about this notion of the blog as a record of reading -- an idea to which I still hold fast. The blog is a tool (for writers and readers alike) for dealing with information overload -- for processing an unmanageable abundance of reading material. Most bloggers, the good ones anyway, not only point to links (though the good pointer sites like Arts & Letters Daily are invaluable), they comment upon them (as I am doing here), glossing them for their readers, often quoting at length. The blog captures that wave of energy emitted by the reader's mind upon contact with an idea or story.
I do think blogging goes a significant ways toward the Enlightenment ideal of a reading public, even if only one percent of that public is worth reading. Hemingway famously said that he wrote 99 pages of crap for every one page of masterpiece. We should apply a similar math to blogs, and hope the tools for filtering out that 99 percent improve over time. After all, one percent of 28 million is no small number (about the population of Buffalo, NY). I'm confident that, in aggregate, this small democratic layer illumines more than it obscures, blazing trails of readings and fostering conversation. And this, I would venture -- when combined and balanced with more traditional media sources -- offers a more balanced reading diet.
Posted by ben vershbow at 07:53 AM
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tags: Blogosphere , Online , blogging , blogs , hemingway , jonathan_swift , journalism , media , orwell , parasite , publishing , reading , technorati
google blog search - still a long way to go 09.14.2005, 5:01 PM
Google's new blog search engine reminds me of how far we still have to go with blog search. The engine works much the same way as Google's general web search - with keywords and page ranking - only here it's searching RSS feeds. Recent posts with keyword matches fill the column, and a few links to related blogs come up at the top. But there's the rub. These so-called "related" blogs are only related by direct keyword matches in their title tagline. I just searched "poetry" and came up with only three related blogs. C'mon. A search for "gossip" turns up only one related blog - "Starbucks Gossip". There has to be some kind of promotion going on here, though their "about" page mentions nothing of the kind.
A good engine would be capable of searching blogs by their subject, their preoccupation, their obsession. Many blogs could be considered "general," but just as many have a special focus, and readers are often searching with a particular theme in mind. They don't just want a list of transient posts, but whole sites that might potentially become regular destinations. Many blogs are valuable publications that prove themselves day after day. But blog search hasn't yet grown beyond the trendy "what's the latest chatter on the blogosphere" mode.
I do have to give credit to Technorati. Glitchy as it is, they're trying to think of creative ways - tagging, author-determined keywords - to help readers find interesting blogs and authors their audience. Then again, my greatest finds have usually been from other blogs. Humans will always be the smartest aggregators.
People out there, what do you use?