Google Blogsearch and Techmeme

More and more people are spending free time (and work time) online and lots of those people want to discover interesting things on the web. Google Blogsearch’s new home page applies that insight with a browsable version of what’s going on in the blogosphere. The UI design is a little reminiscent of Google News, but the new Blogsearch home page uses a lot of different code.

It’s great to see this new home page go live, because I’ve watched as the blogsearch team in New York pulled this together. Some people will compare it to Techmeme, but the sites are quite different. Here are a few of the differences in my mind:

- Techmeme focuses on very reputable blogs. That means that spammers find it hard to show up on Techmeme, which is great. But it also means that you’re more likely to see posts from the same A-list sites often, so you don’t get as much diversity. Techmeme tends to select the “best of the best” stories; on the Blogsearch home page, you can keep clicking the Next button until you get tired of going deeper. On an individual story on the Blogsearch home page, you’re more likely to see a lot of different voices, not just the top-of-the-pile blogs. For example, for the “Apple drops parts of its NDA” story, I count 38 posts about it on Techmeme and 121 posts on the Blogsearch home page:

Apple NDA

So you’re getting lots of story choices from different blogs, plus there’s the full blogsearch backend if you want to search in more detail.

- Techmeme is heavily focused on tech news. The new Blogsearch home page surfaces stories from the wider blogosphere. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, that news didn’t really show up on Techmeme much, other than how Lehman’s spending on Information Technology (IT) might change. The Blogsearch home page is a blend of different blog topics. You can get technology-only or business-only stories, but they are a click below the home page. There’s a few categories (world news, science, video games) that you won’t find on Techmeme or its sister sites.

- Techmeme is faster to pick up new stories. I don’t think the Blogsearch folks have focused on the speed of detecting new items so much as showing a diverse set of information. That might change over time; I just don’t think that was the highest priority for the initial launch.

- The two sites do have a different editorial voice. The Blogsearch home page is more likely to have gadget posts, new software versions (did you know that the Gimp 2.6 just came out?), and embraces the video game niche. The Blogsearch home page also tilts more toward bloggy blogs as opposed to mainstream news sources. Techmeme’s sister site WeSmirch is solidly about celebrity gossip; while the entertainment section of the Blogsearch home page mentions a Neil Gaiman reading:

Gaiman reading

So I view the sites as very different. I love Techmeme and will keep going there every day, but I plan to make the Blogsearch home page a regular stop now as well. Every discovery site from Techmeme to FriendFeed to StumbleUpon to freshnews to Alltop to popurls gives you a different lens to discover new things on the web. I think it’s nice to have another site that highlights interesting things.

Discovery is different than search, but they’re definitely related. I’m glad that the blogsearch team is looking at new ways to surface interesting things on the web. Congrats to the people that contributed to this launch, and I hope more people at Google start to think about surfacing fun stuff on the web.

19 Responses to Google Blogsearch and Techmeme (Leave a comment)

  1. Atul

    Matt – a question unrelated to this post. Not sure what is the right forum to ask this question. Any reason why official google blogs are not stopping the spam trackbacks e.g. http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2008/10/google-on-android-search.html has lot of trackbacks from a site called hitvahot.com.

  2. Atul, I mentioned that to the right people. I think the blogsearch team actually helps with trackbacks, and they’ve been swamped getting this change out, but I expect that someone will turn their eye to this pretty soon.

  3. Where’s the RSS for Blogsearch news…?

  4. Atul

    Thanks for the prompt response. Really enjoy your blog posts and twitters.

  5. So finally you people are going to kill techmeme ;)

  6. Cool Matt – I’m anxious to start using this, esp. because I’ve felt for some time that TechMeme was far too dependent on a handful of the “usual suspect” blogs that wound up driving far too much of the tech conversation.

    About a year ago at SES you and I were talking about possible ways that TechMeme was surfacing its lists – looks like the Blog team figured out a new way to do that job…

  7. Dave (original)

    Matt, why does Blogsearch return results for non-blog pages?

    Off-topic (Google search quality), but searching Google groups of late often returns SERPS dominated with spammy custom groups with NOTHING but spam scraped from various sites. Not good.

    I have, over the last Year, reported MANY of these spammy custom groups, but they are growing at a fast rate and not 1 SINGLE spammy custom group has been removed.

    It’s now at the point that searching Google Groups is waste of time.

  8. > Techmeme focuses on very reputable blogs.

    How does Blog Search determine which blogs make it as the top headline of a cluster? Is the blog’s weight part of the algorithm here?

  9. Blogsearch needs improve the results and remove non-blogs pages from it’s index .

  10. so why is the lead blog on the story about apples hissy fit over itunes royalties a no name site that i have neaver heard of and not a more imporatnt blog.

    http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch/story?hl=en&bcid=1225376790&bc_lang=en

  11. Both very interesting pieces of software. I still keep using my FeedDemon, probably about 30-40 feeds described. But I read only my 5 different theme watches, digging out most valuable posts based on my keywords. I very much like it, works just fine!

    Jaak, http://seoapplied.blogspot.com/

  12. Looks like a FAIL to me.

    Google found only 14 to 17 found posts as of 10/2/2008 about the “Amazon EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server” topic and mine wasn’t one of them, although it appeared on Techmeme. What’s really strange is no entry for Werner Vogels’ “Expanding the Cloud: Microsoft Windows Server on Amazon EC2″ post of 9/30/2008 or Jeff Barr’s “Coming Soon: Amazon EC2 With Windows Amazon Web Services” blog post of 10/1/2008, which are the authoritative posts for the topic.

    For more details, see the end of http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/amazon-adds-sql-server-to-oracle-and.html.

    –rj

    • I’m anxious to start using this, esp. because I’ve felt for some time that TechMeme was far too dependent on a handful of the “usual suspect” blogs that wound up driving far too much of the tech conversation.

  13. someone has already (perhaps non-intentionally) gamed the system… check out the “technology” section and there’s a hot topic of some optical company releasing new eyeglass frames. it looks like all it takes is a high number paid posts in a short time frame and bam! you’re a hot topic.

  14. I searched for google using blogsearch, don’t see the count feature with the SERP. It would have been a great tool, if the count feature was there along with SERP too.

  15. Wow, that’s really cool. I mistook the counts for Digg’s at first but now I’m OK :)

  16. Ars

    I like more techmeme because you can find very interesting blogs without spammers and others internet garbage. On other side blogsearch can be good if you want to find fun sites with lot of spam. So if you want to relax use better blogsearch.

  17. BA

    Be sure to take a look at nobosh.com (no-nonsense) which is a much improved attempt at what Techmeme started.

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