If you do any blogging, reporting or electronic publishing focused on timely topics, take a look at Whostalkin, a social media and metasearch engine for blogs that has just come out of private beta testing. I’ve been experimenting with it today, and, for the most part, it does a good job of ferreting out conversational and anecdotal information on newsworthy topics for which there may not be lots of coverage immediately available.
Here are the kinds of tasks I tried with it, and what I found.
Whostalkin searches social media outlets such as Twitter, blogs, blog search engines for meta searches, and a number of other types of social sites. In testing it, I was mainly interested in evaluating two things: 1) does it return “inside,” conversational information on the web that might help in developing full-blown stories?; and 2) does it search just the usual suspects? I was pleased to find, for the most part at least, that the answer to question one is yes, and the answer to question two is no.
To test Whostalkin out, I tried entering keywords related to a few stories on the OStatic blog and the GigaOm blog that I’ve had on my radar today. These are breaking stories, where in some cases, there isn’t yet all that much information available from standard journalism outlets.
The first story I looked into was the GigaOm story from today about WebEx arriving on the iPhone. When I searched for information on this story, one of the first returns that Whostalkin gave me was a Tweet from Jan Sysmans, Sr. Collaboration Marketing Manager at Cisco WebEx, which led me to this post featuring a video showing how the application works. There were also links to several brief reviews of how the application works–a pretty rich amount of content from offbeat sources.
I also tried out a search on a more widely reported story, which was the launch of WiMax service in Portland. This led me to quite a few first-hand reports from the actual launch event in Oregon, including this one. I also found that I could select blog search engines themselves on the left of WhosTalkin’s results screen to dig deeper on searches.
Finally, today on the OStatic blog, I wrote up a piece on IBM making the Lotus Symphony suite available for free on the Mac. This story only had a couple of online citations that I could find elsewhere when I was writing it, but Whostalkin did a good job of finding the announcement and several posts that I couldn’t get elsewhere. It also tracked down my own post minutes after I published it.
Overall, especially for those who write on timely topics online, Whostalkin looks useful. It went through seven months of private beta testing, and appears to scour a lot of good sources, as well as offbeat sources. My one suggestion for improvement is that the results come back in big fonts, where, displayed smaller and in a more organized fashion, I would be able to see more results in a single view. Still, Whostalkin is worth taking for a spin.