Sunday afternoon, I'm sitting here in my pink chemise with the black and pink lace trim and my stiletto heeled maribou slippers reading the NYTimes, having my third cup of coffee, and checking my email (all at the same time), when I see an email from "Blake Rhodes"...
I have no clue who Blake Rhodes is, but it the email doesn't look like spam, so I open it...
I found your blog while using our blog search engine. Check out our site and let us know what you think. We already have you indexed.
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the blogosphere, the CEO of IceRocket walks into mine.
Now, I'd been poking around that search engine for a couple of days, searching the URL for my main blog with IceRocket's blog search feature, just testing it to see how many links IceRocket would reveal. I'm most curious to see if an IceRocket search will show the same type of information a contained in a Technorati search.
So far, it looks like IceRocket's yielding more post-links, but not as many blogroll permalinks. Searching my main blog, Moon River's blogroll keeps showing up every couple of days, but I think that has more to do with the way MSN blogs post and update. I notice, too, that LiveJournal entries that link to me are popping up. I usually don't cross-link to the LJ people who read me. I respect their space. Yet I like knowing who over there's linking to my blogs. ...so I don't freak when I get a cluster of hits from lj.
I notice, too, that the default search on IceRocket is the blogsearch rather than the websearch. I'm impressed...a bit.
Monday morning, I open that email again. I do a quick search thru Google (yeah, I should've used IceRocket--don't worry) and find out a few things about him. Enough to want to know a few more things....
So I send a short email asking some basic questions about IceRocket...and Blake writes back:
We had some ideas on ways we felt we could improve search. We started as just a regular search engine, about X-mas time we launched our blog search product which is now our default search option.
I think we would like to bring search to the blogosphere and also to those folks that are not actively involved in blogging. We want non-bloggers to be able to come to our blog search and see what the blogosphere is saying about their businesses, favorite movies, restaurants, etc.
Smart boy! He's thinking about how blogs might be used by non-bloggers. Considering that I get at least 40-50% of my daily hits from non-bloggers, who often stay and read awhile, even when the blog entry has nothing to do with a search criteria like "sex with your mother-in-law."
I'm also very surprised that Blake's willing to email. More often than not, whatever level the CEO happens to be, he/she seems to engender a bit of ego that often gives the "talk to the hand" signal to anyone who's not at least a B-lister or previously multi-published freelancer (or I get 86'd by the spamguard because of my yahoo.com email addy).
So I ask Blake if he (being IceRocket) is looking to open things up in the world of blogging so that those of us who are ubiquitous in the Tail get better recognition...
Absolutely! I love reading the A-list stuff like WeblogsInc, anything they do is awesome. That being said, I equally enjoy reading the small LiveJournal stuff that nobody else reads. I think there are tons of great blogs out there that nobody knows about and you can find them by using IceRocket.
Gotcha! I've done some searching so I know y'all are backed by
Mark Cuban and that Mark's in with Jason Calacanis and all that stuff...but I like the little bit about the "tons of great blogs out there." He knows the neighborhood and thinks like a blogger!
We hope to help anyone that wants to attain a higher profile in the blogosphere do so. People should come to us when looking for blogs about the things they enjoy reading about.
..but I'm still curious about the whole indexing thing. How the heck did he index me?
We have crawlers that go out and find blogs that we index. Smaller bloggers that are looking to get an audience can find that through IceRocket. People come to us to search for blogs about the topics they like, if you are a blogger and you are blogging about some of these things, you can benefit from this.
Yeah...y'all probably noticed that I'd been using your search criteria to stroke my little ole ego and wondered who the heck was so curious about a little ole fleablog...still, he's proving to me he's not just some guy looking to cash in on bloggers and blogging.
I decide to test IceRocket's search capabilities a bit more, and use it to search one of the women I interviewed for my Women and Blogging article. Alison Teal was a '60's political rabble rouser (she'd laugh at that one) who blogged while on the campaign trail with Kerry and during the DNC. Because of her relationship with the DNC, she was one of the few actual credentialled bloggers. Hot Flashes from the Campaign Trail was the result. Google and Yahoo searches really didn't give me much except a moldy old NYTimes blurb. So, I tried IceRocket's websearch (rather than blogsearch) and it yielded a ton of web-based articles on Alison's blog. The blogsearch, though, isn't all that helpful--but I think that has more to do with the fact that Hot Flashes was more a topic/situation blog, with a clear beginning and ending.
The emphasis in the blogosphere though is the immediacy of information. We can save our blogs forever, but the blogosphere really isn't like a library where people go to look up stuff...not yet anyway. Right now what matters is the topical, the current, the up-to-the minute. Who's got the scoop. Who's saying what about whatever. This is what people mine the blogosphere for right now. This is what matters to bloggers and blog readers.
What Jeff Jarvis or Dooce said three years ago really doesn't mean squat today.
What I really, really want to know from Blake, though, is if he's looking to take on Technorati. So, balls and all, I ask....and get this answer:
Hell yeah we are going to give Technorati some competition!
Making a list by links only is something I have NO interest in doing. To me it means nothing. Just because someone has a ton of links does not mean they are the #1 blog out there by any means. I want to recognize both large and small bloggers. If someone started a blog today, they would have zero chance of ever making a list based on links, to me, that does not seem fair.
We might be working on a list, but it won't have to do w/links :)
WOW! He really, really *does* think about bloggers! He's got a clue! He's not just stroking his own ego with his Little Engine That Could! He gets it! He gets that all those permalinks added up over the years creates a stack of links that blocks anyone who's just coming into blogging (other than celebrities) from rising out of the doldrums of The Tail. He knows we're not all just compulsive journallers doing this thing for a handful of our friends. He gets that some of us might be providing great content but can't be found because there are all these blogs-which-came-before.
Often I feel like apologizing because I haven't been blogging since the Days of Yore, and haven't accumulated thousands of links over all those years... but hey! I'm a damned good writer and I'm pretty freakin' funny at times and I want people to find me and read me!
and, dammit! this 23 year-old kid in Texas is getting the message that Dave Sifry can't seem to tune into--that the Blogosphere is a world of the immediate, that ancient links don't tell anyone a thing about who's popular, who's got the best conversation or who's got the best information right at this minute, and that Yahoo Messenger!, even though widely linked, really isn't a blog...
I've gone back to IceRocket since Blake's and my email exchange, and checked out a few more of its features...there are interesting little linking options, and ways of finding blogs that are buzzing about certain topics. It has a tags option, but it's kind of tough to figure out the code for the tags (esp. if you're tech inept like me). There are some bugs to the baby, but, with enough bucks to float the project, IceRocket should be able to enlist some bright techgeeks to tweak the algorithms a bit and refine the search criteria. I like the emphasis on post-links, and possibly a feature to sort post-links from permalinks could be configured at some point. There might even be a way to track the comments sections of blogs--but that's down the road a bit, I'm sure.
It's been nice getting to know Blake and IceRocket (keep in touch sweetie..I'm only an email away ;-) ). Take some time and get to know them too...I think you'll be very surprised...
If you're dying to know more tech-oriented stuff about IceRocket use it for a blogsearch--you'll find great articles by all manner of bloggers...