I’ve been having a discussion with a very sharp local entrepreneur about using the BlogWhyz toolchain to help them with their content aggregation and classification model. The conversation took off today, mainly because I could finally concentrate on getting back to people (as I’d been effectively off-line while pushing out the BlogWhyz Beta for the past seven days).
The question that came up early in the discussion was ‘how is BlogWhyz different from all the RSS aggregators that exist out there”. The second question was “why do you not index the entire blogosphere”. Very good questions. I should chide myself for not making these more clear in the online documentation.
To answer these questions, we need to compare BlogWhyz to two different services, (1) RSS aggregators and (2) blogosphere search engines. Let’s start by defining both, and by giving examples of them:
RSS aggregators essentially work off the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) procol published by blogs, media sites, bug tracking software etc. RSS feeds can be identified by the big orange logo you see either on the site, or in the FireFox toolbar or bookmark menu when you’re on an RSS-enabled site; this blog has an RSS feeds as well (two if you count the comments feed).
RSS essentially allows you to have a structured view into the last few articles posted on that site, with the title, author, publication date, url and typically a description of the article.
RSS aggregators take multiple RSS feeds and combine them into a single pipe. They can be either web based, or in the form of an application. A directory of RSS Aggregators is available on Yahoo.
Blogosphere Search Engines
These are specialized search engines that claim to only index blogs and return results based on keywords that are given. Good examples are available (once again) on Yahoo.
They operate as advertised, and do return results, but I’ve never found the results to be particularly actionable, as there was never any connection to me. Blogs are personal, and connected to people, and I feel a disconnect reading a total stranger’s blog (unless I am working on an impersonal task, like finding a war-story describing how a feature in an API can be operationalized).
How BlogWhyz is Different
The problem with RSS aggregators is that they only have the latest information. You really can’t go back into the history of the service. So, if you want to manually read everything new that shows up, and have the time and personal bandwidth for this, RSS aggregators may be what you are looking for. Most people don’t have the time and bandwidth required.
BlogWhyz sends you the new articles matching the topics you are interested in straight to your email, requiring you to interact with one less piece of software. Also, our search service allows you to ‘turn the clock back’ and find all the older articles (which may contain the information you are seeking).
Additionally, the problem nowadays is not that of coverage (which is easy; add more blogs and info sources!), but rather that of too much information. Excessive information overload is not only caustic for your work, but detrimental to your health. Our service protects you from being overloaded by only sending you the info you asked for.
The searches are also carried out on the blogs that YOU have nominated, thus ensuring that there is a personal connection to use, either because you know the blogger, respect their work and words, are in the same industry or the same geographical location. What constitutes a relevant blog is based on what you consider to be relevant; no one is forcing unsolicited information on you.
Thus, the BlogWhyz service is not competing with RSS Aggregators or Blogosphere search engines. Instead, we are competing with your live bookmarks on Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome or Opera. This is because we solve the social media information management problem that you face, rather than Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.
It’s almost like having an electronic secretary for a few dollars a month, who reads through your bookmarks and tells you what is valuable. The BlogWhyz ‘secretary’ can also look up older articles for you on demand.
Flexible Workflow and Architecture
Additionally, we have a very appealing offering to organizations that need this technology, but in a different form.
When you deal with Whyz Technologies, you are not dealing with Google or Yahoo. We have complete control over the crawling, monitoring, data cleaning, deduplication, analysis and presentation workflow, and are happy to customize it to better fit your need. We’ll change our code, and extend it to meet your needs, on a pretty decent budget too.
Try making Google or Yahoo do that, and I bet that you will not get very far.
Our only limitation is that we are a small firm, and can only deal with so many clients at a time, and if we give you a commitment, that means that we will not be available to help other organizations out, and then.. they may feel like they are dealing with Yahoo or Google! Can’t fault the big brothers on that count I guess!