Category Archives: Web-Tools

The Web Ain’t Dead. Blekko.com Has Come to Save It.

This is  a VERY cool, and very paradigm shifting new site: Blekko.com. I caught this on John Battelle’s Searchblog tonight, got a beta invite, played with if for a few minutes, caught on quick and already found tons of new cool things that I wouldn’t have found before based on my interests and the ability to filter the searches to give me more accented, tailored, specific results.

Example:

My favorite musician, Josh Rouse. Now with a simple / “slash” I can search for Josh Rouse say only on blogs like so: Josh Rouse/blogs or only in forums like this: Josh Rouse/forums (Click those links to see the results of said searches. I also just Tweeted a link to those results. You get the picture, and that’s just scratching the surface.

New interesting information which is valuable to me as a fan, as an aficionado of said artist, immediately begin popping up at the top, based on my filters.

This is making me feel that giddy, ‘irrationally exuberant’ feeling I initially felt when I tried Google for the first time back in 2000. I felt I had the World at my fingertips back then.


But some kind of sludge in search has slowly happened. Some have blamed it on SEO/SEMs gaming the system so much that the results have slowly deteriorated.

I have no doubt that’s part of it, but shouldn’t Google have been innovating like mad to keep up with the onslaught of deterioration?

I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE so many of Google’s additional services, Gmail, Docs, Voice, all their wonky, data, cloud stuff (not their social) and that to say they shouldn’t have extended their reach beyond search would be like saying Amazon shouldn’t have extended its own reach beyond books, but it does sort of seem like, especially in the last three years of the Social Media threat, that Google has not innovated enough on their main product. It’s kind of like Microsoft jealously chasing everyone else’s success so much, they dropped the ball on their Golden Goose. (They did rally and sell 200m copies of Windows7, but still, no one would deny the mindshare, at least in the U.S. lost to Apple.)

I mean filtered searches seem like such a no brainer that you would have thought Google would have had them in right from the beginning. (Well actually they do, but no one can figure out how to use them, and usually the results come back blank for some reason as if the data base and or code running it act like you’ve done something wrong. It’s like when a car back fires, and you hear what you think is an explosion. Except this explosion is not a band, but a ‘whimper.’

Remember the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford? One of the best Movies ever. Remember that scene in the Hospital when he’s searching the database for records of people who’ve received prosthetic arms? His first search delivers hundreds, maybe thousands of results. Then he keeps narrowing the search by filters (I can’t remember what the exact filters were, dates other types of subsets) and finally gets down to a manageable number of results, and more importantly, results that have meaning.

Granted it was a movie, but still, that was 1994! People understood even back then before the internet was mainstream, that one of the most valuable automations of computers was search, and that one of the most important features of search were filters.
It’s mind blowing Google hasn’t at least already initiated these kind of easy filters for its flagship product. I assume they will soon and or buy Blekko.

I’ve only used Blekko for a few minutes. I want to use it lots more in coming days, but it already has such polish, and it feels silky smooth and fast, the kind of silky smooth quickness I haven’t experienced since FriendFeed, which for the life of me I can’t figure out why no one can duplicate, not even Facebook itself, which purchased FriendFeed and has one of its founders as its new CTO, Brett Taylor.

Remember how last week Wired published a story about how the Web was dead? Well I didn’t buy it. Thought it was link-baity gibberish for the most part, but it did have some valid points. Steve Jobs didn’t leave out flash because flash was dated. Steve Jobs left out flash to close off, to a large extent, the media distribution ability of the Open Web.
More and more stuff is happening through apps and other such ‘silos’ which does tend to negate the open web.

Well, although Boing Boing had a great rebuttal to the Wired piece, I do believe that if there is a sort of , how shall we say, ‘jaded’ feeling for the Web itself, I do believe a large part of the problem is this lessening of the ability to find the really interesting, cool, exciting stuff. It’s out there, but for some reason our discovery engines, the main one being Google, have somehow become clogged and stale.

I think Blekko, for one, can be like Roto Rooter to this clogged drain. These filtered searches are going to re-invigorate the joy of discovering on the open web, and in turn re assert the open web’s, if not dominance, at least equal importance to “apps” in this ever evolving, every life changing, and ever standard-of-living-increasing thing we call the Communications Revolution.

Google said their mission statement was to uncover the Worlds information, or something to that effect. Well they are doing a lot of other good things, but their eye, at least lately, has been off that ball at least in the long tail stuff, which are the hidden treasures. Maybe its time for a new leader. Maybe Blekko’s it.

Oh, I’ve got 5 invites. Just email, tweet, or leave a comment, if you would like one.

Update 9/2/10 From my incoming traffic I found this page that is loaded with good information about Blekko over the last few days. Links to 10-15 stories written about it in blogs and a ton of ‘real time’ reactions based on the hash tag #blekko. I wish I could just copy and paste everything from this page and post here, but I wouldn’t feel right. Here is the full URL:

http://www.skrenta.com/2010/09/blekko_coverage_and_twitter_gl.html

You know I was just thinking, I wonder if you could create a cool page like that in Paper.li or really just using Blekko.com itself using the “/” syntax.

Yeah you can. Just check this out:  http://beta.blekko.com/ws/blekko+/twitter

Oh here’s a Paper.li I just created for the hashtag #Blekko. Pretty cool, although not filled with as much content as I would have expected.

An Easy Step To Increase Your Blog’s Exposure

*Update 10/28/09 – You know something cool that I just noticed: The post you make on FriendFeed itself gets indexed on Google. Type into Google: Increasing Blog Exposure. My Friendfeed Post is No.1! At least as of now. That’s not a bad keyword to rank No.1 on. Now its not a direct link to this post, but a direct link to the post I made in FriendFeed that has a link to this very post. It may be because there are 4 “Likes” and a few comments on the post itself that give it that extra juice, but that’s good if Google takes that into consideration because it’s using FriendFeed’s meta data to point to more relevant information. I may have mentioned it before, but by posting to FriendFeed you also get the benefit of an automatic back link. Same for Twitter. Oh, I would also say, make a Facebook “page” for your blog and post there too. I’m assuming since “pages” are public that they are indexed too, but I’m not sure on that point. Still it can’t hurt. You can also look for Facebook “Groups” that relate to your topic and post there, but you don’t get any media to put with it and you have to do them individually one by one. I’m hoping that since Facebook bought FriendFeed, they’ll be adding some it’s functionality there soon. Because Facebook has almost as many uniques as Google itself does! Massive untapped potential!

If you’re not a member already, join FriendFeed, a free microblogging network that is like the Twitter that we always wished that were. FriendFeed has a number of cool features absent in Twitter, namely in line media, uploading files, way better search, and for the purposes of this blog post, most importantly “Groups.”

Groups in FriendFeed is like a regular account but narrowed to a specific topic and most of the groups, once you join, allow anyone to post to them. So when you have finished a blog post go into FriendFeed and search for groups around your topic. You go into “browse/edit groups” and then at the top right there’s a link to “Find Groups” in which you can type a search term.

For instance when I release a new song I’ve recorded, I search for groups around music and join them. The other day I released a new song and did just that. There were a number of Groups concerning Music, some with thousands of members, some with hundreds, some with just a few. I chose to join 10 groups to start, there are many more, that I will probably add later.

Here’s the cool part: You only have to post one time to add the post to as many groups as you want. It’s like Twitter but you get more text to write, I think around 250 characters, and you can upload a photo and or a media file (in my case a song) with the post.


And as opposed to Twitter where you have to depend on the number of followers you have, and even then, there’s probably on a few percent of those who may be interested in the particular topic that you’ve written about that day, with Groups on FriendFeed, the members of those Groups don’t have to be following you to see the post, and they are already interested in the topic, so that even in a small group of only 20 or so, you’re going to get more engagement.

So the benefit with posting to FriendFeed Groups is that you can post just one time and get in front of an interested audience automatically, with the added benefits of a photo, media, and more text to grab their attention. Also, FriendFeed doesn’t shorten your link, so that viewers are more likely to feel safer and click it.

Now the drawback is that FriendFeed is small, but not too small (around a million uniques per month), and the topics and by its nature the membership leans more towards the tech arena. So for instance a topic like “Blogging” which is what this blog post is about it, has a lot of Groups, but a topic like “Knitting” may have very few or none at all (I haven’t checked) But I did have no problem finding quite a few groups around Music and Wine, the topic of a couple of my recent blog posts.

So depending on the topic this step may get you from quite a lot, to only a small amount of extra exposure. But with the ease with which its done, and the level of engagement that follows, its more than well worth it.

Also, it adds you some Google juice because the FriendFeed pages and Groups (unless they are private) aren’t behind a walled garden and are optimized for search. Plus you’ll be part of a like minded community to engage with, make new contacts, and increase your knowledge.

Oh, and did I also tell you that you’re post will automatically be Tweeted to your Twitter account by FriendFeed, if you so choose, as well?

Related Articles:

  1. How to Find Something to Blog About
  2. Increase Visitor Length Time on Your Blog
  3. An Easy Step to Increase Your Blog’s Authenticity
  4. The Best Commenting Engine for Your Blog
  5. The No. #1 Skill Needed To Become a Successful Blogger
  6. Customize Your WordPress Page Tab Links

The Best Commenting Engine for Your Blog


*Update 10/30/09 I’m changing my mind here. With Disqus‘s latest update I believe it is just as good or maybe even better. For one thing Disqus is more widespread which makes it by default more social. Also, Disqus has a webpage where all your comments are aggregated so that you can easily access them and which can be indexed. Most feed aggregators use Disqus, so that all of your comments will be automatically sucked into them, if you so choose. This gives your comments a bigger footprint. I used FriendFeed, and I don’t think they accept JS-Kit yet. I assume the other aggregators are similar. Now with JS-Kit you can manually choose to send your comments to various social networks, but since its not automatic, its tiresome to individually select and choose each one. So usually you don’t, and your comment remains in a “silo.” Now, the advantage to JS-Kit is that it’s smoother and real-time, and I assume they will add all the features that Disqus has in the future. But it all depends on how popular the engine gets for it to be a default for the feed aggregators, which may or may not happen. So as of this moment I would suggest that you go with Disqus, or at the very least, if you don’t add it to your blog, get an account, so that you can use it to comment on other blogs, most of which use it, if they use anything at all.

It’s a real-time commenting engine for your blog or website that also gives you the power to propagate your comments across your entire social graph. It turns a static, “block-like” commenting section into something that is more alive like a river. It keeps the discussion of a blog post, or other content, on the content page itself. And when the comment section comes alive more value is added to the original content itself. It also benefits all of the social networks because comments become additional content that’s added to their site. Also, it encourages commenting because they are more recognized, responded to in real time and propagated, if you want, to all or some, whatever you choose, of your various other social graphs. The company, JS-Kit, totally rocks. I love their attitude. It’s about innovation. This new system, “Echo”, will be coming out in a couple weeks, but if you want it, be sure and go to their site and sign up now, because they will be sending out invitations, or opportunities to install it, on a first come, first serve basis, to those who send out a special tweet.

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Tweet Your Iphone Videos Directly

Cool Iphone 3GS App to Upload and Tweet Your Videos straight from the phone. TweetReel.

Check out Bwana’s Video Review of TweetReel:

How to Put a Cool, Interactive, Real-Time FriendFeed Widget on Your Website



I got this idea when I first saw Scoble’s website and his subsequent Building43 site where in each case the FriendFeed widget is much cooler than the one they give you at FriendFeed (even the Java one) in the sense that it behaves just like the site does, inline videos play within the widget, comments stream in real time to the widget and can be made inside the widget. With the generic widget they give you at FriendFeed, it is static. In other words you have to refresh the page to get the updated content, and when you click content, be it a comment or a video, it takes you away from your blog or page and to the FriendFeed page. No Fun. This is Fun. This is interactive and “breathes” “pulsates” which is one of the main themes we are hitting on for Web 2010. No matter what business you are in, you want a site that encourages people to not only be there but to interact with you. Basically it comes down to this: They’ve got the same stuff down the street. The customer has 4 or 5 choices. The business that is more FUN, the nicest, that Woos and Schmoozes is usually, all things being equal, going to get a greater share of the business. Is a more interactive, “cooler” FriendFeed widget woooing and schmoozing? Not really. But its better than thte static one. It shows that you are trying. And customers can sense that, and sense that you are “into” what you are doing, and will tend to gravitate towards you.

<iframe src=”http://friendfeed.com/stephenpickering/embed?css=https://stephenpickering.com/wp-content/themes/ocean-mist-2_0/friendfeed-styles.css%3fv=17″ frameborder=”0″ height=”1400″ width=”310″ style=”border:1px solid #aaa”></iframe>

Obviously change the credentials to your own (these are mine showing), and if you are a WordPress user don’t forget to add the specific CSS theme you are using so it will look right. And obviously the size to fit your sidebar or whatever.