I would be neglecting my duties if I did not mention the new version of Google Blog Search. First, let’s get some minor details out of the way. Is it a Technorati killer? No. Google Blog Search (GBS) is not really a discovery engine or a blog ranking mechanism. Is it a TechMeme killer? No. It has some similar elements to TechMeme, but there is a much different feel. In addition, GBS has 12 categories, where TechMeme focuses on Technology.
As expected, there were mixed reviews. Interesting enough, the raves were reserved for the “major” blogs. ReadWriteWeb gushed over it, more because of the possibilities for the other categories. They do summarize the idea quite nicely:
This has to be entirely new for bloggers who write about television, video games or business. Those sectors have got to be excited.
They do have a very good point, but in comparing apples to apples, TechMeme is still going to be the sites that techies love. On the other side of the coin, several smaller blogs feel that rumors of TechMeme’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Mark Evans thinks that Gabe Rivera has nothing to worry about. Steve Hodson of WinExtra.com has a fantastic headline “Google Accused of TechMeme Killing – Found Not Guilty”. He also dislikes the algorithm that Google is using:
As much as people might like to bitch and complain about Techmeme it still is the place for tracking hot topics in the tech blogosphere. Even after looking over Blogsearch I gotta say I don’t get whatever principals; or algorithms, that are the basis of how google is displaying results.
Considering TechMeme takes a lot of criticism for not being open or having personal bias, I have been surprised by the amount of support for it. Granted, GBS is not a spectacular offering, but it may succeed outside of the technical news space. The other question we all have is what is the point of these services? I have heard several different terms, blog discovery, meme tracker, blog aggregator and a few others. First, blog discovery is closer to what Technorati could provide, but has not yet. When using GBS or TechMeme, you are not trying to discover a new blog, you are trying to find current news. I do not like the term Meme Tracker as it does not really describe much, even though TechMeme uses it in their name. Blog aggregator is a very boring term that sounds like it is just a pile of blogs dumped into a user interface.
Search Engine Land uses the term “front pages for the Blogosphere”. I do not like that term either, but they do provide a very nice overview of some of the competing tools in this space. So, the terminology is bad all around us. That changes the question to what do we want these services to provide? Nick O’Neill feels that the perfect aggregrator has yet to be made:
There is a long way to go before there is a “perfect” content aggregator…In the future I expect to be able to instantly load a single aggregator which includes the most popular items distributed through my favorite media outlets, social aggregators, social networks, and every other source that I visit for the latest content.
Obviously, TechMeme has nothing to worry about for now. People may complain about it, but from the varying opinions, it does not look like people really know what they want. The competition in the space also seems to be less than stellar. At this point, TechMeme gets to live another day.