I've been struck recently by the increasing number of announcements and news items that relate to blog content that are of potential interest for our readers. Here's a quick rundown of news just within the past week:
- Newsweek launched a feature powered by Technorati that gives the magazine's readers a way to track what bloggers are saying about the articles.
- BusinessWeek Online ran an interview with Technorati's CEO, David Sifry, talking about the competition and the challenges of the expanding blogosphere.
- Google's personalized home page option (http://www.google.com/ig) now lets users add RSS feeds from blogs and news sources.
- AOL has teemed up with Feedster to enable users of the new My AOL to search for and add RSS feeds from blogs and news sources. The personalized portal My AOL (http://feeds.my.aol.com) just launched in beta on July 28.
- Lycos launched new blog and photo album lifestyle templates on Tripod.com.
- Forbes.com came out with its summer 2005 issue of Best of The Web (http://www.forbes.com/bow), which lists the most worthwhile blogs in 20 different categories.
- BlogPulse, a service of Intelliseek, introduced a new feature called BlogPulse Profiles, which adds metrics to the top-ranked 10,000 blogs based on citations, posting, and linking behavior.
Blogs have been taking center stage for covering major events and disasters. Following the London bombings in July, bloggers immediately stepped in to provide first-hand accounts and photos and to serve as information resources. Technorati set up a special page on its site to cover developments.
Blogs are not limited to librarians and geeks but have permeated all areas for some time now, including corporate enterprises. The cover of the May 2 issue of BusinessWeek screamed: "Blogs will change your business. Look past the yakkers, hobbyists, and political mobs. Your customers and rivals are figuring blogs out. Our advice: Catch up…or catch you later."
In the recent BusinessWeek Online interview, Sifry said that Technorati would be unveiling "a new service in August that's currently in beta testing that's geared toward professionals—people who need a deeper view of a company or its products, such as PR people, people in marketing or advertising, financial analysts. [Basically,] people who need to track buzz, how it changes over time, who are the influencers, who is talking about their company or their product. These will be subscription products."
We're seeing increasing numbers and sophistication in the finding tools available for blog content. Feedster offers a service called Feedfinder. It lets users search by keyword, by URL, or a combination of the two (e.g., amazon.com books) in order to find feeds on a topic or by an organization. Feedster also lets you search within blogs and other RSS feeds, with optional filtering and limits.
Most of the RSS feed aggregators, like Bloglines, have a search feature. Wikipedia has an extensive list of newsfeed aggregators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_news_aggregators).
I like the capabilities in Fagan Finder, which is known for providing easy access to many search engines for the Web, directories, and more. It now offers several search options: for blogs, within blogs, for RSS feeds, and within RSS feeds. It helpfully provides lists to check off. For example, I can do searches within many different RSS feeds (though only one at a time, unfortunately): Feedster, Daypop, Blogdigger, and Bloglines.
These finding tools are great, but I found the particular searches provided quite different results from one to the other—in some cases, vastly different numbers of hits. Try it yourself.
David Curle of Outsell just tipped me off to a new site I hadn't heard of and which I haven't yet had a chance to try. According to information on the beta site, FeedShake is a new service for combining, filtering, and ordering multiple XML feeds in real time. Users can mix multiple RSS feeds, sort them by the date they are published, limit the number of items to list, filter the feeds by keywords, and/or only have listed the items with particular keywords. FeedShake provides a new feed, which can be used in any other RSS reader, browser with RSS support, and in other RSS services. It even supports podcasting.
Here's one final happy note about blogs: Our own Steven Cohen's Library Stuff blog will celebrate its 5-year anniversary on Aug. 5. Congratulations to Steven! The library world thanks you for all your hard work in keeping folks up-to-date.