I’m surprised I didn’t know about this till recently, but Google Blog Search is something that no blogger should ignore. (Here are some other, albeit somewhat old, first impressions.) Apparently, Google believes in blogs — “Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging…” — and extends their search prowess to the world of blogs. It looks and feels just like the standard Google search, but one must ask the question: why bother searching blogs? After all, aren’t blogs (like this one), just filled with the immature rants of wannabe writers who just wouldn’t cut it in the real world of journalism?
No, I don’t believe it’s true in general. Sure, the quality of blogs does vary quite a bit — but they all serve some kind of a purpose. Whether it’s a professional blogger contributing in his or her field of expertise, or a university student writing about life, the universe and crap like that, it’s all because they have something to say. The ability to link between blogs and comment on blogs creates a kind of dynamic that encourages people to think — instead of merely being passive consumers. That is a great thing to see. I suppose Andrew Keen wouldn’t agree, but just because he’s published in dead tree form doesn’t amount to much: see the Wikipedia Signpost review. By being able to search exclusively in blogs, you too can participate in this part of the Internet — participate in free speech. You can find out things that traditional media will not cover — how-to’s in obscure topics, political rants that match your persuasion. The results you get are pretty good — see this description of how it all works. Yes, Google’s thorough.
For bloggers, it is important that you are indexed by search engines, even if you are a small time blogger like me. What’s the point of writing publicly if you don’t actually intend on anyone reading it? I had known of Technorati before this, but Technorati has many irritations that other bloggers have covered and I won’t cover here; anyway, Google’s overtaken it. To ping Google Blog Search, just add http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 to your list of servers to ping.
In other news, Google Maps features content for the 2007 federal election. Click on the “My Maps” tab and it’s under the “Featured content” part. Overlay the party colours onto the map of Australia, and you’d be surprised about the land area that the Liberals/Nationals represent!
On a final note, Google Blog Search and these special maps rather emblematic of the problem that Google has so many fantastic services written by so many fantastic engineers that just aren’t seeing much of the light of day because… there are just so many of them.