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Summary:

Blogs are big. There are 19 million blogs, and a few thousand will go online by the time you get done reading this. To paraphrase a popular disco ditty – so many blogs, so little time. Technorati, Feedster and Icerocket do a good job of searching […]

Blogs are big. There are 19 million blogs, and a few thousand will go online by the time you get done reading this. To paraphrase a popular disco ditty – so many blogs, so little time. Technorati, Feedster and Icerocket do a good job of searching the blogs, the information that is presented to the end-user is like giving people the cow, not the steak. The big issue is finding relevant and intelligent blog posts on a specific topic, that are based on authority. The authority is not an arbitrary decision of a human community, but a “collective effort.” Google tries to do this in its new Reader by restricting “google search” to RSS feeds. But that’s not the answer.

Instead, I recommend you guys take a look at Sphere, a stealth mode start-up that has developed some interesting algorithms to solve this problem. They are in Beta, but I have been kicking around the product from the day the company started in April 2005, and have been solidly impressed by the results they bring up.


More on that in a bit, but here is the skinny on the company. Sphere is the new name of Yodel Search, and it is a three person start-up backed by the likes of Doug MacKenzie and Kevin Compton, Phil Black, Will Hearst, David Mahoney, Vince Vannelli and Mike Winton.

The team has built the product with less than $200,000. The company is headed by Tony Conrad, who is a reformed VC who in past life had funded companies like OddPost when he was a general partner at VSP, a venture fund that has recently imploded for many diverse reasons. The other two co-founders were the duo behind Waypath.

I have digressed enough. The way Sphere works is a combination of many tracks. Lets use an example say of what else, Broadband. The look for blogs that write about broadband, (including those with broadband in the title of the blog) to create a short list. If I am linking to someone who is also a broadband blogger, and vice-versa, Sphere puts a lot of value on that relationship. The fact is most of us broadband bloggers tend to debate with each others.

Think Blog Rank, Instead of Google’s Page Rank. The company has also taken a few steps to out-smart the spammers, and tend to push what seems like spam-blog way down the page. Not censuring but bringing up relevant content first. They have pronoun checker. Too many I’s could mean a personal blog, with less focused information. That has an impact on how the results show up on the page.

The coolest feature they have is matching Blog content with relevant web articles from mainstream media. I believe they are about to launch the beta version of the search tool soon, so try it out and make your own decisions.

  1. there you go Om..now why are you pimpin around a product you are beta testing for the folks..getting ‘em publicity in the web2.0 bubble..LOL…kidding…….

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  2. [...] We all know how blog search engines have made themselves a name, by tuning traditional IR techniques to the Blogosphere. Enter Sphere. It is in “stealth mode” now — not even a Beta. Over at GigaOm, Om Malik has some interesting thoughts on Sphere. The bottomline is of course tuning relevancy to the Blogosphere. Some excerpts — Think Blog Rank, Instead of Google’s Page Rank. The company has also taken a few steps to out-smart the spammers, and tend to push what seems like spam-blog way down the page. Not censuring but bringing up relevant content first. They have pronoun checker. Too many I’s could mean a personal blog, with less focused information. That has an impact on how the results show up on the page … [...]

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  3. Wow…that algorithm sounds exactly like the one my company uses to data mine relationships for our recommendation engine. Find users who like say Robbie Williams for a short list and then check what artists they like (which gives the uber popular ones as well as others down the curve) then use backlinks to verify those links and create a strong relationship from this.

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  4. [...] Om Malik is writing about his early impressions of a new blog search engine called Sphere. I’m an advisor to Sphere and excited to see that they are about go beta. Back at Oddpost, shortly before we got acquired by Yahoo, we were working with two guys, Steve Nieker and Martin Remy of ThinkTank23, who were going to help us with feed search and discovery for our RSS reader. I really liked them and their technology, but we never got to build a product together because of the acquisition. I thought the least I could do was introduce them to one of Oddpost’s lead investors, Tony Conrad. It turns out the three of them hit it off and started Sphere together with the goal of building a second generation blog search engine (one that can tell you what authority a blogger has on a given search topic, rather than just list everything that’s being said in the blogosphere). I’ve been very impressed with their product to date. If you use blog search frequently, please sign up for their beta. They are looking for people who are able to tell the qualitative differences between various blog search results. [...]

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  5. Did you know that this technology was available back in 1999? The guys behind the Waypath were involved, but not as active employees of the company: Fizzylab was the name of the company and Relevator was the product (there were others like Ad Relevator, Product Relevator, etc.). The company couldn’t close it’s B round of funding and closed its doors … perfect example of baby getting thrown out w. the bathwater. during the crash.

    The algorithm has supposedly been enhanced since, but essentially does the same thing, which is much more powerful than keyword search.

    Fizzylab’s target customers were publishers on the web. When a user was reading an article, an iframe on the page would show them ‘More like this’ links from the publishers universe of content.

    Anyway, if interested, lookup Fizzylab on WayBackMachine: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.fizzylab.com

    Perhaps, we were just a bit ahead of the need back then.

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  6. [...] Om Malik: The big issue is finding relevant and intelligent blog posts on a specific topic, that are based on authority. The authority is not an arbitrary decision of a human community, but a “collective effort.â€? Google tries to do this in its new Reader by restricting “google searchâ€? to RSS feeds. But that’s not the answer. [...]

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  7. “I” am so toast.
    “I’ use “I” a lot.
    Sphere is going to see all my “I”‘s and rate me low.
    “I” Caramba,

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  8. [...] de Google en beta “real”. Comentarios (0) – Referencias (0) – Añadir a: Del.icio.us | My Web | iFavoritos::Inicio:: [...]

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  9. Nya rön: skriv opersonligt, rankas högt

    Jag läser om Sphere, en bloggsökmotor i startgroparna, som Om Malik skriver gott om. Den lovar att hitta auktoritativt blogginnehåll…

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  10. Om, we surpased 19 milion blogs last year. There were over 60 million in May. There’s over 100 million today.

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