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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.

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  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…….

  2. EBB: ebiquity blog at UMBC (mobile and pervasive computing, semantic web, intelligent agents) » Sphere — tuning for the Blogosphere Saturday, October 8, 2005

    [...] 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 … [...]

  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.

  4. Toni Schneider’s Blog » Sphere Blog Search Saturday, October 8, 2005

    [...] 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. [...]

  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.

  6. » Reaction To Google Reader  InsideGoogle » part of the Blog News Channel Saturday, October 8, 2005

    [...] 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. [...]

  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,

  8. SphereBeta: El próximo buscador de blogs::ñblog: utilidades y recursos para blogs Sunday, October 9, 2005

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

  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…

  10. Randy Charles Morin Sunday, October 9, 2005

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

  11. Everyfeed.com’s blog Sunday, October 9, 2005

    Sphere, the relevant blog search

    Sphere, the relevant blog searchSphere, the Relevant Blog Search

    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

  12. Will Sphere Solve the Blog Relevance Problem?

    Om Malik writes about Sphere, a new blog search service that appears to be getting ready to launch.
    Sphere is taking a crack at building a more relevant blog search engine. Traditional link analysis just doesn’t work with blog posts because new…

  13. Internet Changes Everything Sunday, October 9, 2005

    Sphere, the Relevant Blog Search

    Om Malik’s Broadband Blog » Sphere, the Relevant Blog Search 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 -…

  14. Sphere, another blog search engine

    Sphere is a new Blog search engine. It is not live yet, but will be soon, its creator Tony Conrad told us last week. We were waiting to try it out, but Om Malik is already pointing to it. We should note, we’re not sure whether the world can really use…

  15. I have had a chance to see Sphere in action during its pre-Beta phase, and have to say I was pretty impressed with their ability to surface relevant posts. I think this is one worth watching; the team has some very credible chops when it comes to building authority and relevance based algorithms.

  16. Sphere is Yodel and Waypath

    Battelle points to Malik about Sphere. It turns out that Sphere based on the original Yodel Inc blog search engine I posted about a while back, but they have taken the two founders of Waypath on board as well. Waypath

  17. sphere » The Cat’s Out Of The Bag Monday, October 10, 2005

    [...] Om wrote http://gigaom.com/2005/10/08/sphere-the-relevant-blog-search/ a nice piece on Sphere earlier today so I guess we’ve launched. We’ll be in private beta for awhile, looking for feedback and figuring out a few new features that we’d like to get into the hands of blog readers. Here is a summary of Sphere: [...]

  18. Om Malik on Blog Search

    In the wake of Yahoo’s launch of a blog search function, Om Malik has some interesting comments on Yahoo’s move and the state of blog search tools in general: Technorati, one of the early entrants in the blog search arena…

  19. EBB: ebiquity blog at UMBC (mobile and pervasive computing, semantic web, intelligent agents) » Uncloaking on Web 2.0 Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    [...] A recent post we and others (here, here, here and here) made about Sphere – a new blog search engine based on initiation by Om Malik is an interesting example. Om, an A-List blogger now has a new post on yahoo blog search engine and how Sphere is better. Some readers would have noticed del.icio.us count at the bottom in our previous post. What was 3 then is now 47! Moreover it is (was) widely discussed on the blogosphere. [...]

  20. Alex Barnett blog Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    More RSS-enabled start-ups

    Several RSS-enabled search and attention services have been cropping up over the last few days. I’ve…

  21. Software Only Sunday, October 16, 2005

    A review of Sphere – a new blog saerch engine targetting relevance as key differentiator

    Fellow former VC who returned to the bright side Tony Conrad kindly gave me a preview of Sphere, ex-Yodel Search, at the Web 2.0 conference, and re-kindly gave me access to the beta version of this new blog search engine, “that uses an advanced algor…

  22. Super-stealthy “Sphere”

    Sphere is a blogsearch engine that isn’t even in public beta yet. The cat, though, is out of the bag, & they’re in BusinessWeek…

    Looks interesting, & there’s always room for more search, esp. given the differences between the engines. I’ll be …

  23. Weblogs Work » TechnoSight Interviews Sphere CEO Thursday, October 20, 2005

    [...] Ken Yarmosh has just posted an extensive interview with Tony Conrad, CEO of Sphere, a new blog search service now in closed beta testing.  Om Malik has been using Sphere for months now, and posted his thoughts here.  Also, Business Week’s Stephen Baker has a podcast interview with Tony & search guru Mary Hodder.  [...]

  24. Sushma Kishore’s Weblog » Blog Archive » links for 2005-10-11 Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    [...] Sphere http://gigaom.com/2005/10/08/sphere-the-relevant-blog-search/ (tags: service coming soon) [...]

  25. ione rosa da silva Saturday, March 25, 2006

    quero jogar sphere

  26. my Cancer Community Tuesday, May 9, 2006

    Hi,

    I’m looking for a chart that I thought was published at your site showing the breakdown of the types of blogs e.g., diaries, politics, music, photos, etc.

    Any help appreciated.
    thanks,
    Steve

  27. Excellent site – do keep up the good work.i

  28. Very good site! I like it! Thanks!i

  29. Hello, nice site look this:Thenks You!

  30. Personal Note: Conrad Got Mailed. – GigaOM Monday, April 14, 2008

    [...] the locale, I was easily distracted, but nevertheless listened to his pitch for Sphere, which at the time wanted to be a relevant blog search and had a working name: Yodel. After raising around $3.75 million in [...]

  31. High-quality personal filtering « Sri Spot Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    [...] Malik writes about Spheres original concept for Blog Search, The way Sphere works is a combination of many [...]

  32. Sphere Blog Search Engine Goes Live – at Last! Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    [...] riding the hype curve for many months, it’s great to see that Sphere will soon be alive and kicking (launches in a few [...]

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