Blogs as the Web Evolves…

    October 12, 2005

The picture at the right comes from one of my favorite groups on Flickr: California Desert. I like this image in particular, because you get the sense that there are times when a path is quite clear.

Racetrack II
Originally uploaded by melastmohican.

But if you’re looking too closely at things, you get distracted by all those cracks that go in seemingly random directions and lose sight of progress–how ever slow it might be.

In looking over all the feedback I’ve seen about adding blogs to Yahoo! News Search, I’ve seen a surprising number of folks confused and distracted by all those little cracks. But that’s okay, I guess.

To recap, a lot of folks seem compelled to make weird apple vs. oranges comparisons. In doing so, they’re missing what this is really about. Luckily, a few folks have picked up on it.

Andy Lark said:

Yahoo! News is now delivering blogs as a component of a news search result. This has major implications for PR practitioners. Suddenly those searching for news on your product get a feel for what users, the community, and the pundits are saying – unfiltered. It has equally major implications for blogging. It enables anyone with the energy and enthusiasm for a particular topic to potentially sit on the front page right alongside traditional news sources.

Dan Gillmor said “Yahoo Takes a Step for Citizen Journalists“. He’s right–but we’re thinking beyond those folks that consider themselves “journalists” of any sort.

Steve Rubel used the headline “Yahoo! Blog Search Puts News and Blogs on Equal Ground” in his post. While they’re not truly equal (yet), it’s pretty clear where things are headed.

This is part of the continuing evolution of on-line media. A few years ago, everyone talked about making “static” sites “dynamic.” Nowadays we take dynamic sites for granted.

I believe that blogs, as separate entities from non-blog sites, will be fairly short lived. The features that make blogs what they are (on-page discussion, chronological sorting, generous linking) will work themselves into “non-blog” sites more and more in the coming months. In other words, the line between “blog” and “non-blog” will become ever more blurry.

But right now blogs are “special” and the folks who write them sometimes expect special treatment (some more than others). But like I said last night, this was clearly aimed at everyone else. Otherwise we’d have created Yet Another Blog Search Site and expected most bloggers, PR/Marking folks, and journalists to use it. They’d be the same people already using blog search services.

Remember back when web publishing was fairly new and the term “webmaster” was very different than it is now? Many folks spent a lot of time trying to find the right “GIFs” for their site. Not images, GIFs. Back then the format, an implementation detail that users never cared about, was incredibly important. We all had to know what the heck a GIF file was and many of the tools for creating/manipulating them were primitive–much like RSS today.

Eventually we stopped talking about GIFs (and JPEGs), got better tools and used “normal people” words like “pictures” and “images” instead. That opened the door for more people to participate in creating on-line content. The same thing will happen to blogs and RSS.

To bring this back to where we started, I feel like we’re trying to move that rock along in the desert. The path is fairly clear. The cracks are just distracting.

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Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.