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Two New Syndication Services for Digital Content: Mochila and BlogBurst
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Posted On April 3, 2006
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Founded in 2001 as a publishing automation software house, Mochila’s initial list of suppliers includes Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Metro International, MediaNews Group, Freedom Communications, Liberty Group, Fast Company, Inc., Working Mother Media, Entrepreneur Media, Rasmussen Reports, and the Greenspun Media Group. Mochila does not require exclusivity from its content providers.

In the near future, Mochila will expand its service beyond text and photographs to include audio and video. McAllister also indicated that the company planned to add new forms of content in the future, such as prominent blogs. Bloggers could also become customers as the organization moves to serving small publishers—vigorously, according to McAllister.

I asked Linnea Christiani of Marcinko.com, who has decades of experience at contracting content, whether success by Mochila might lead to article-level, pay-per-use Web feeds from established data aggregators like Thomson Gale or ProQuest. She did not believe that the contracts between publishers and those data aggregators would allow such syndication, at least not across the board.

BlogBurst

Founded in 2003, Pluck Corp. will officially launch BlogBurst, a service designed to republish syndicated blog content on newspaper Web sites, on Wednesday. Dave Panos, CEO of Pluck Corp., explained the strategy behind BlogBurst. “Both parties realize that they are in the same boat—striving to offer the largest possible audience a variety of compelling and timely content. BlogBurst neatly solves the lack of exposure problem suffered by the vast majority of talented bloggers, while simultaneously satisfying mainstream media's need to scalably introduce first-person perspectives of the highest quality.”

Newspapers and media organizations can select the blog content they want and publish it on their Web sites or in print. At present, BlogBurst has five major press organizations already signed up: Gannett News, TheWashington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express-News. Publishers get a set of software tools called Publisher Workbench to search and retrieve content from any number of blogs and arrange the content into topical channels for display on their own sites. The embedded connectors will provide continuously updated, topical blog headlines, summaries, and full postings. BlogBurst uses JavaScript calls or SOAP or XML APIs.

Interested bloggers can sign up at no charge and, once approved, have their content automatically indexed and updated in the network whenever new postings occur. BlogBurst’s editorial staff reviews and qualifies blogs before adding them to the network, using journalistic standards that include frequent updating (at least weekly), topical focus, effective writing style, and technical standards of RSS or Atom feed compatibility. Approved writing style can differ, depending on the topic covered, according to Panos. At present, though they expect these requirements to go away, BlogBurst also stipulates no advertising in the blog feeds, no blogs not written in English or with Western character sets, and no blogs inappropriate for a U.S. audience (whatever that means in a country known as the “Melting Pot”).

Panos said that close to 700 blogs have already joined the system. Once blog content reaches newspaper Web sites, headlines for postings will designate source; abstracts for postings will designate source and link to full-text postings; but only full-text postings carry links back to the originating blogs. Bloggers do have another lever for moving readers from the newspaper sites to individual blogs, however. At present, according to Panos, the BlogBurst feeds do not offer access to comments posted in response to blogger material. To reach the full set of interactions (or contribute to discussions), readers must go to the original blog.

Pluck Corp. has already developed an RSS Reader, a suite of “social media” products called SiteLife, and a “community search engine” called Shadows that lets groups of users tag, comment, and rate Web pages. As for future plans with BlogBurst, Panos said that after newspapers, the second market the company will pursue will be “pure paid online media with no print,” followed by magazines.

I asked Panos why bloggers should want to participate with no current monetary reward strategy in site. He pointed out that “90 percent of bloggers aren’t in it for the money. They blog for credibility, fame, and passion.” Linking their content to prominent publication Web sites gives them greater exposure, potential new readers, and greater credibility. Panos also pointed out that BlogBurst’s archiving of bloggers’ content could be a draw in and of itself, providing participating bloggers with a permanent searchable archive. Nonetheless, Pluck also plans to offer bloggers a compensation strategy later this year after BlogBurst leaves beta.


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Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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