Racetrack II
Originally uploaded by melastmohican.

The picture at the right comes from one of my favorite groups on Flickr: California Desert. I like this image in particular, because you get the sense that there are times when a path is quite clear. But if you're looking too closely at things, you get distracted by all those cracks that go in seemingly random directions and lose sight of progress--how ever slow it might be.

In looking over all the feedback I've seen about adding blogs to Yahoo! News Search, I've seen a surprising number of folks confused and distracted by all those little cracks. But that's okay, I guess.

To recap, a lot of folks seem compelled to make weird apple vs. oranges comparisons. In doing so, they're missing what this is really about. Luckily, a few folks have picked up on it.

Andy Lark said:

Yahoo! News is now delivering blogs as a component of a news search result. This has major implications for PR practitioners. Suddenly those searching for news on your product get a feel for what users, the community, and the pundits are saying - unfiltered. It has equally major implications for blogging. It enables anyone with the energy and enthusiasm for a particular topic to potentially sit on the front page right alongside traditional news sources.

Dan Gillmor said "Yahoo Takes a Step for Citizen Journalists". He's right--but we're thinking beyond those folks that consider themselves "journalists" of any sort.

Steve Rubel used the headline "Yahoo! Blog Search Puts News and Blogs on Equal Ground" in his post. While they're not truly equal (yet), it's pretty clear where things are headed.

This is part of the continuing evolution of on-line media. A few years ago, everyone talked about making "static" sites "dynamic." Nowadays we take dynamic sites for granted.

I believe that blogs, as separate entities from non-blog sites, will be fairly short lived. The features that make blogs what they are (on-page discussion, chronological sorting, generous linking) will work themselves into "non-blog" sites more and more in the coming months. In other words, the line between "blog" and "non-blog" will become ever more blurry.

But right now blogs are "special" and the folks who write them sometimes expect special treatment (some more than others). But like I said last night, this was clearly aimed at everyone else. Otherwise we'd have created Yet Another Blog Search Site and expected most bloggers, PR/Marking folks, and journalists to use it. They'd be the same people already using blog search services.

Remember back when web publishing was fairly new and the term "webmaster" was very different than it is now? Many folks spent a lot of time trying to find the right "GIFs" for their site. Not images, GIFs. Back then the format, an implementation detail that users never cared about, was incredibly important. We all had to know what the heck a GIF file was and many of the tools for creating/manipulating them were primitive--much like RSS today.

Eventually we stopped talking about GIFs (and JPEGs), got better tools and used "normal people" words like "pictures" and "images" instead. That opened the door for more people to participate in creating on-line content. The same thing will happen to blogs and RSS.

To bring this back to where we started, I feel like we're trying to move that rock along in the desert. The path is fairly clear. The cracks are just distracting.

Posted by jzawodn at October 11, 2005 08:50 PM

Reader Comments
# Mike said:

I've always thought the blogosphere was on crack...

on October 11, 2005 11:08 PM
# Nicole Simon said:

I think part of it is already happened - I recently thought "how can a website not contain elements of a blog?". The podtech interview about the podcast launch was very good and showed the intention of where it can head - and this is the same for the blogsearch.

For me, news is the place where the content of blogs most logically belong to from all the possibilities of your page. You have kinks, yes, you will work on them, and you will get better over time.

But you still will get feedback on the cracks. :)

on October 12, 2005 01:13 AM
# Guy Valerio said:

Yes, perhaps long term the difference between articles from traditional news sites and blog posts will be less pronounced. Witness the attempt at traditional news sites to produce blogs within their own content management systems; in such cases there is really very little difference.

on October 12, 2005 04:49 AM
# said:

the cracks are as beautiful as, and an integral part of the desert. please don't take the cracks out of the desert. thanks.

on October 12, 2005 11:48 AM
# RandomLoser said:

You should just have trackback comments on articles at Yahoo News. Forget all this bull on your search results. What is going to happen when spammers start to cash in on Yahoo News search results by offering a whole array of unrelated products, by using keywords like "Iraq" to get on Yahoo News search results.

on October 12, 2005 04:27 PM
# Ernesto said:

I like your vision, and I agree with most of it. It is surely interesting and promising. I also liked the blending of traditional news and blogs, because blogs are everyday more and more like a citizen journalism.

But, by the way, you should not ignore cracks completely, because some of them might alert you about the firmness of the ground youíre stepping on. The little crack of seeing your blog-results in the news search so much like ad results is certainly one to take into account, and I am confident that that part of the feedback you've found will not be taken lightly. As you said above, blogs and traditional news are not treated equally (yet). I hope that the 'not yet' part means something.

on October 12, 2005 05:43 PM
# John said:

I agree with the guy who is asking about spammers using "mal-blog" entries in order to tinker with the listings.

The other thing that I've always wondered about is the credibility of blogs to begin with. While journalists have a certain level of credibility that comes with their position, the average Joe Blow on the web does not have that nor care about that.

I am concerned that some blogs which are not newsworthy at all (like the spam/mal-blog argument example) will be given some level of credibility, while truly newsworthy oness are left out.

on October 13, 2005 02:26 PM
# The Nano said:

Dood,

Thatís serious business; very nice. I may have to link to this from FBD

Thanks,
The Nano

on October 14, 2005 10:01 PM
# dui lawyer said:

Very interesting blog!
Thank you!

on October 22, 2005 04:42 AM
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