Well, I am finaly able to admit that blogging isn't easy as I thought it was when I started this blog. I had dreams of blogging everyday, once upon every interesting thing that happens and apparently I did not. Tried to blame it on lack of time, subjects I did not think were worthy or plain secrecy to hide my grand plans on what I do but these are all just plain and lame excuses. I actually miss blogging, though I was much more active when I did not run Aggreg's activities.
Anyway, after not blogging for a while I understood that blogging is not actually being done for the sake of other people, and that it mainly serves me. This online form of expressing thoughts and ideas has mind refreshing effects even if no one reads them. Then why would not I write a personal diary, well, it is just not the same.
Getting back to blogging, well I am currently in some kind of a crossroad where I contemplate on further investing (and salvaging all "sunk cost"(:) on Aggreg's activities which are highly related to blog indexing and search (strategicboard, king ping) or maybe do something else.
Strategicboard, which has started in my mind as an enterprise competitive analytics tool has evolved quite fast into a small blog search engine, which has been home grown to track and index 2 Million blogs. To Aggreg's activities I have added King Ping, a central blog pinging service and TrendMapper, a search engine trending service. To be honest none of these really took off for many reasons I understand and probably many more I don't.
My general plan for 2008 was to revamp the backend of Aggreg to deal with the whole blogosphere 200M+- blogs and although the plan and infrastructure challenges are solved theoritecally, still I find it hard to really pursue the plans without clear understanding of my direction.
Let's say I already did the upgrade and I have now a nice blog search engine with full coverage on the blogosphere and with all the must have's such as topic classification, spam filtering and other goodies. What can I really do with it that other did not?
Technorati has these capabilities I am talking about for a long time now and although there are many complaints on the net that they lack cool and effective features that are driven by past existing passion, still I can not pretend to think that I can do a better job. I can find many fault with what they do but I also highly appreciate their position and challenge.
Tailrank being developed by highly admired (I admire him) Kevin Burton has reduced focus from the public blog search engine into an outsourced blogosphere crawler/indexer to be used by other vendors or enterprises (Spinn3r). Spinn3r is wrapped really nicely for big clients but still I personally do not believe too much in this kind of market and the reduction of focus on Tailrank says to me Kevin does not believe too much in the public service called blog search engine too much either.
Twingly, a new sweden company with the highlight of being spam less blog search engine. I tried it several times but could not get the feeling this was the killer feature blog search engines miss of all. Again, the product is wrapped really nice (much better job then I did:) but still I am not sure users are flooding to their service.
Google Blogsearch, this is the weirdest of all services and is ranked the lowest in the list of blog search engines I appreciate. Although being powered by the dreamy infrastructure Google can provide to web apps and has basically the widest coverage and highest refresh rate on content of all other competitors, still it is just lack of a charecter. Intrnet users can access blogs via their regular search engine (and I guess most of them do without even being aware to the fact they visit blogs) and it seems that instead of adding a small checkbox in the regular search engine to filter results from blog they create some simple user interface. It seems to me no one in Google takes a second glance at their results in the blog search engine and they created it as a funny counter move to the so called industry of blog search engines in their eyes. It is a bit of an insult to people who are really interested to blogs.
Of course there are any others, small and big where aggregators also come into the pictures (where is the boundary between an aggregator and a blog search engine lie?) and these are just several examples I see from the industry.
Getting back to my humble efforts, I can not say seriously that I have found the one/two features that others miss, where I can fix it and become the head of the pack. I am not sure whether it is even a real pack?
To list some of the aspects that are good and bad within specific companies we can see:
- Topic classification whether structural or semi structural
- Spam filtering
- Real blog ranking except for simply counting incoming links or running an artificial pagerank on this portion of the web
- Rich blogger tools
- On demand service such as watchlists, I saw many complaint on Technorati's weakness in this area but still we have pubsub and Google Alerts to remember
- Really fresh content
- Many widgets?
- Rich media
- Maybe all?
I guess that is all in terms of my thoughts on the area and I have to say I really love and believe in blogs as a medium that will evolve and I still try to find my way into it.