Sunday, February 16, 2003

And of course Pyra Labs (The owners of Blogger and Blogspot) have been purchased by Google. I hope that the guys at Pyra got a good price. Hopefully those people who genuinely produce something innovative on the internet can still get rich out of it. I have been known to complain about Blogger's unreliability and lack of customer support, but my suspicion is that the main reason for this is the company's lack of resources relative to the number of users it has. Hopefully being owned by Google will fix this, and we will see (a) the archiving bugs fixed and (b) fewer downtimes. In the long term, I am also hoping that a larger portion of the features that many of us presently source from somewhere else (eg commenting, search) will be offered actually by Blogger itself. (Presumably Google offering an easily installed search engine for its blogs is a nobrainer).

Plus I will be interested to see whether the ads on my site change. At the moment, a lot of them seem to be Blogger advertising itself. Google might be able to sell more to actual advertisers. I shall wait and see.

Update: My brain was not really thinking properly yesterday, and I didn't think through the consequences of this. I have compared the blogosphere to Usenet, and have previously commented that the difference between Usenet and the blogosphere is that Usenet is indexed in terms of subject (and date) and the blogosphere is indexed in terms of author (and date), and that a really useful application would be one that indexes the blogosphere in terms of subject and possibly quality as well. Given that Google are the experts of indexing things in terms of subject and quality, there are obvious benefits to this acquisition if Google now show some imagination.

It is also worth observing that Google's most notable previous acquisition was the Usenet archive that previously belonged to Dejanews. Certainly Google's indexing has made this archive more useful, allowing the Usenet archive to transcend the tyranny of being indexed by date. I can generally find anything that has ever been written in Usenet on a particular subject. This makes it a highly useful research tool, particularly when studying technical subjects. Something similar for the blogosphere would be useful, although their existing search technology needs to be adapted to take into account the foibles of blogs. (For instance, a posting on a blog which gets five or six links when postings to that blog usually get few if any links is likely to be of higher value than a posting on a more popular blog that gets an absolutely greater number of links but fewer links relative to the typical number for that blog).

In any event, other people have beat me to a lot of this speculation. I particularly like Aziz Poonawalla's suggestion that Google essentially attaches its new aggregating technology to the blogosphere. While this would be good, I think it would not quite be optimal, because posts in the blogosphere are on average less time sensitive than are news posts, but are more time sensitve than Usenet and still more time sensitive than the web at large. Experimentation needs to be done, and I am looking forward to seeing it done.

Google clearly also needs to involve non-Blogger blogs in whatever indexing features it provides. Perhaps the way to go about this will be to provide new features for Blogger based blogs, and provide some sort of open interface so that non-Blogger blogs or non-Blogger software providers can opt in. I look forward to seeing what they try.

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