Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blogging Doesn't Scale (but it can)

I think we need a new breed of RSS feed readers.

I tend to blog about all sorts of subjects, and I read many different blogs on many different subjects, and I think we have some real challenges in navigating the new news-space.

There are a number of things that could be done to improve the blogosphere from a technical perspective, and one of them, I think, would be to start being more deliberate in classifying and tagging articles. Services such as del.icio.us, Digg, Google News, etc. do a great job of harvesting community tagging and automatically processing content. I think deliberately classifying posts in major categories, much like the various sections of print newspapers, would make blogs more interesting to the readership. For example, most of my posts fall roughly into groups such as "gadgets," "ideas/thoughts/musings," "interesting links," and "project proposals." Readers probably each care only about a definite subset of those topics.

I also post to multiple blogs, but that's really technically pointless. For example, the Blawker blog could just be a tag or category on posts on my main blog, which could then be automatically aggregated into the Blawker blog, or any other set of blogs. And, the aggregation should be a trivial step, requiring no manual steps whatsoever.

At Exbiblio, for example, we each have a blog, and each process in the company has its own blog. It would be easy to cross-post to multiple virtual blogs as well as ensure that each person has his or her own voice by simply aggregating posts based on category and tag criteria.

As a blog reader, I would also like to, at different times, read posts on different topics, without having to do tag or keyword searches, analogous to the reading of print newspapers. I think I'd prefer this to scanning the headlines from all the various RSS feeds I follow. As an aside, the "topics" don't necessarily need to be coherent topics in the traditional sense, but could be something more like "channel 765," a channel assembled by a person or a group of people, which has a high correlation with the sort of articles that I choose to read when in a certain mood.

I also think blogging would benefit from a set of standard schemas, e.g. for media reviews, recipes, business plans, items for sale, profiles, PayPal account, personals, etc.

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