Monday, November 27, 2006

Oregon Gets Another Blog Aggregator Service

In our mailbox over the weekend we received notice of a new blog aggregator service, a national outlet that has created a template organized by state, corralling all blogcontent into a couple of pages that continually update the latest and the hottest:

BlogNetNews doesn't have a political ax to grind and jumps a generation ahead of other aggregators out there that just reprint posts and tell you which ones get clicked on the most.

Our current version offers these features:
1) The day's top news - based solely on what news stories Oregon bloggers are linking to - no matter what mainstream news source they're in.

2) An OR blogs search engine.
3) A quick guide to the hottest blog comment sections in the Oregon blogosphere.
4) A quick index of the day's most active Oregon news and politics blogs
5) A guide to the OR blog posts most linked to by other Oregon bloggers.

In one place, in one minute, you'll get an update on what's going on across the blogosphere. And your readers will be able to find the best Oregon-related content - not based on random voters or some editor's choices - but based on the real actions of your fellow bloggers and their readers.

Well, it does what it advertises--I don't see any notably missing blogs offhand--and I suppose given our own lackluster design I shouldn't hurl e-stones, but so far the site's readability score is a D or D+. Like many attempts to aggregate a lot of disparate information, BlogNetNews simply packs too much junk into its columns. There's the standard hotwire in the middle, but also a "what stories bloggers are blogging" column and a "most active bloggers" column that also includes the most-commented stories and most-linked stories.

I guess that's interesting information, but it's a little too 'meta' for me. Carla and I have been mentioning since the election that the standard blog MO of linking an MSM piece and then commenting on it is becoming boring for us, and the idea of blogging topics because OTHER blogs have covered it sounds even worse. It's like an invitation to join the herd so that at some point critical mass will be reached, and the story will cease being the story itself, and become the fact that "the blogosphere is buzzing about" the story. Blech. No thank you. And I haven't even mentioned the seemingly-random placement of those annoyingly small GoogleAds, or the fact that the timestamps show Eastern time rather than Pacific, and appear to only run about every two hours or so...

Besides what I would call over-design busyness and an appeal to the self-referential side of blogging, there remains the salient point that good aggregators already exist. If you're predominantly interested in progressive viewpoints, The NW Portal and Daniel Kirkdorffer's PNW Topic Hotlist, currently undergoing some growing pains as a sidebar service but still a top notch aggregator, are the current standards. If you like the state-by-state model that BlogNetNews is pursuing, of course there's, which we proudly feature in our own sidebar. And if you want a broader perspective than politics, ORBlogs continues to set the standard, in a much more pleasant and readable interface IMO.

So we'll keep an eye on BlogNet for growth and improvement, but for the time being we'll stick with the already-existing players in the market.