Finding blogs of interest: Technorati, Google Blogsearch, and the Blogroll

Geert Lovink’s new book Zero Comments opens with a quotation from a blog post from 2005 (thanks Trees):

…In the world of blogging “0 Comments” is an unambiguous statistic that means absolutely nobody cares. The awful truth about blogging is that there are far more people who write blogs than actually read blogs.

Contrary to this post, I do like reading blogs, and I have a large number of carefully selected blogs pouring things that I find intelligent, funny, challenging or informative into my feed reader every day (and for what it is worth, I think it is important to read things that run counter to our own ideas, or we can become more extreme in our opinions — see The Wisdom of Crowds by John Surowiecki for more information about this).

So how do I find blogs to read? Well, to be honest my most successful approach has usually been a recommendation or a link from a friend who has similar reading tastes to mine — I know I will almost invariably like the blogs they like. The second most successful approach I have used is to look at the blogrolls of blogs I like (that list of links to blogs that appears almost universal), or to read the blogs those bloggers link to in their posts. This is somewhat more hit and miss, but still reasonably reliable — chances are if I like the way someone writes, I will like some of the people they link to. Recently I have even found myself subscribing to the blogs of some my commenters (those who aren’t 23thingsing with me — I’m already subscirbed to the blogs of those who are).

None of this does you any good, however, if you don’t know of any blogs you like to begin with (and neither do your similarly-minded friends). In this case, you’re going to have to resort to a blogsearch, of which there are two main options: Technorati, and Google Blogsearch.

Google Blogsearch was started mostly because with Google’s ranking algorithm blogs were causing chaos in non-blog search results. In Google, more links to your site translates to (roughly speaking) a better search ranking, and in blogging communities where crosslinking intensively is common practice a blog can accumulate a number of inbound links pretty quickly (see this commentary on why one blogger might link to another), without necessarily being the best source of information on a topic. In the end, Google magicked all the blogs (along with what appears to be some rapidly updating spammy advertising content) into a separate search, so the main search results don’t contain too many blogs (unless they are genuinely relevant), but so that users can still find blogs of interest. Having said this, however, I only use Google Blogsearch when I am looking for the most recent posts about a topic, because there seems to be an underlying assumption in the search that blogs are topical, and so search results return posts that feature the search terms prominently, rather than returning the most relevant blogs.

Technorati works differently from Google Blogsearch, blogs must be submitted (this blog is, I had WordPress do it when I signed up) and will get ranked better if they are claimed by their owners (which I have done). Blogs can be tagged by their owners, and these tags as well as any tags on individual blog posts are taken into account by the Technorati search engine, meaning that it is much easier to find a blog about a specific topic with Technorati than it is with Google. Technorati also has popular blog post and blog rankings, and users can rate blogs as favourites. All in all this is a more socially controlled environment, and unlike Digg it doesn’t seem to have been hijacked by a particular culture.

So, if you’re looking for blogs on a particular topic, my first advice would be to ask your friends, and check the blogrolls of blogs you like. Then check Technorati, and go got Google last. Since I recommend reading the blogs linked by bloggers you like, and in the hope that some of you may enjoy my blog (and to complete 23 things week 5) here is a list of the librarian blogs in my feed reader that I particularly like:

  • Annoyed Librarian: She calls herself the alternative voice in librarianship, and with her dry and acerbic humour she manages to raise some pretty interesting questions (and she will find favour with those of you who are skeptical about this whole 2.0 business). Lots of other people like her too.
  • Information wants to be free: Meredith Farkas writes in a way that is often challenging of the status quo, but it much less inflammatory than the Annoyed Librarian. She also runs interesting surveys, and keeps very much on top of the library blog world.
  • Derek’s ALIA Blog: It seems only fair to disclose that this blog is written by my boss, but I enjoy reading it both for the words of the day, and to find out what is going on in Australian librarianship (y’know, since I wrok in Australia). Derek, like most of my favourites, also writes with a sense of humour.
  • Library Revolution: Emily Clasper writes about a pleasant mix of the personal and the professional, and has a staunch user-focus with regard to libraries. She gives concrete examples of most of her ideas for improving libraries, which may make her suggestions easier to implement.
  • Library Stuff: Stephen at Library Stuff excels in short posts that link to stuff I find interesting. I love this blog because it helps keep me informed about who else is out there, what is happening in the news (about libraries) and feeds me entertaining library images — all in one place.
  • Librarian.Net: This is an example of a blog I read to challenge me. I don’t always agree with Jessamyn’s staunch support of library 2.0, but she is almost invariably thought provoking.
  • The Ubiquitous Librarian: Brian writes only very rarely, but he works in a university library, and is another especially user-focused librarian (who has a number of innovative ideas about how to reach library users).
  • LibOdyssey: A new blog written by one of my fellow 23 things travellers.  This blog has few posts, but is one of the most engagingly written blogs (of any genre) that I read.

Those are just the library blogs I read — I read blogs on a number of other topics, some of which are linked in my blogroll (and you can ask me about the others in person, but they aren’t posted here because they in no way relate to my profession). If you don’t like my list (and chances are you may not) you might like to check out Meredith Farkas’ list of librarians’ favourite library bloggers, or the top 25 library blogs list compiled using web statistics by the Online Education Database.

Of course, if you know any blogs that I’m not reading that I should be, or if you think I should be reading your blog, please, leave me a comment — I’m always up for another personal recommendation.


1 Response to “Finding blogs of interest: Technorati, Google Blogsearch, and the Blogroll”

  1. 1 libodyssey Friday, January 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Aw, shucks! Thanks for the recommendation. Makes me feel I should blog more regularly. By the way, I found you in Technorati, so the system works. Your current authority ranking is 6 but I think it will rise because this is a very entertaining blog.

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