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We initially reviewed blog directory Blogged earlier this year. It’s a human curated blog directory that provides a (somewhat bogus) score for each blog. Today Blogged is back with their launch of a news portal site. Blogged editors will pull breaking news and the most compelling stories from their content categories (technology, entertainment, sports, etc.) and then displays the stories on the frontpage.
Google News and Yahoo News feature top stories from traditional news sources using a combination of technology and human editors. Memetrackers such as Techmeme and Blogrunner use algorithms to identify and present related stories as told by cliques of bloggers related to a particular industry. User-generated news communities such as Mixx, Digg, and Reddit showcase popular stories daily from across the Web as saved and voted on by individuals. Blogged.com is the only community that features the top qualified stories, representing all popular topics, organized by categories from around the blogosphere, combined with a full informational directory that includes rankings, reviews and recommended reading for each blog.
Today’s launch by Blogged seems very similar to what Blogrunner offers except that it’s human curated versus machine-driven. From a gathering the news standpoint, it’s basically like Mahalo. Both Mahalo and Blogrunner create tag pages, Mahalo uses their staff and volunteers to find links, Blogrunner uses computers to find the links. Blogged seems to be more in the Mahalo style but without the tag pages.
I don’t know how large the Blogged team is, but my only question is whether they be able to stay on top of all of the breaking news across so many categories and be able to bubble up the news in (near) real-time? If so, awesome. Also, I hope they will provide diversity in the blogs that they pimp.
They should add a social layer on top of the news – since they know a lot about each blog, there’s a wealth of information they could layer on top of the news and create a community effect on top of the news.
Everyone consumes news in different ways and the one-page category portal-style overveiew should work well for a mainstream audience.
Yesterday I spent some time at the new NY Times building (which is absolutely beautiful) with Philippe Lourier. Philippe is the product manager of the Blogrunner product. He founded the product about five years ago and then sold it to the NY Times. Currently he is the only person on the Blogrunner team, but says that more people will be allocated soon. I was very much looking forward to this interview and discussion and I walked away pleased with the result.
I am calling Blogrunner a “topic discovery engine”. When it relaunched late last year, most of the reviews noted that it was basically a widget that lives on the tech section of the NY Times site. It’s a lot more than that now. A LOT MORE. There are Blogrunner widgets on nearly every page on the NY Times site. Those widgets drive traffic both to the source content and to Blogrunner topic pages.
It’s a content aggregator that aggregates over 10,000 sources in a variety of categories including tech, politics, money, media, law, music, etc. Every day, over 2,000 new topic pages are created on Blogrunner. There are two technologies at work – one is a link checker and the other is a content similarities engine. Blogrunner doesn’t use RSS to get the content and that leads to more meta-data availability on Blogrunner. Here are a few example topic pages:
Promoted correctly, Blogrunner could really injure Mahalo. When Tim Russert passed away, CEO Jason Calacanis had to send his “news team” and his Twitter-followers on a frantic scraping search for links and then built some content to create a page. Philippe said his topic page was live within 5 minutes and continues to be “live” unlike Mahalo. Most pages on Mahalo become stale very quickly unless it’s a topic that their team deems necessary to keep updating. Furthermore, they plan to, in the near future, open Blogrunner to the editors and producers at the NY Times to add human-curated links and content.
Many have compared Blogrunner to TechMeme on the tech side. Philippe explained that Blogrunner is completely automated and every blog has the same weight. This is very different than TechMeme which has blog weights and other factors that play into who gets the lead and who is #1 on the leaderboard. Philippe explained that the weight is actually done per post and the scoring system is similar to the Google PageRank system. TechMeme gives you a better single page news “what’s hot” view while Blogrunner offers more topic pages that can be “watched”.
Philippe was very open to my suggestions on how to make the product better and start to show more diversity and allow readers more discovery. What I’d love to see are Blogrunner widgets. Allow me to stick the latest topics and headlines from the Blogrunner system into CN. There should also be RSS feeds for every topic.
To be honest, it pisses me off that the NY Times isn’t doing more with this product. Blogrunner could be a huge offering for the NYT and yet it just sits there. It’s an absolute shame. Not only would the NY Times see more revenue from promoting Blogrunner, but blogs would see more traffic from the tool as well. We see this lax attitude with many startups acquired by large corporations — see Flickr, Delicious and Jaiku for recent examples.
If you haven’t checked out Blogrunner recently, I’d suggest you take another look.