Google Blog Search has been in operation for almost three weeks and is receiving mixed reviews. Nevertheless I believe it is performing a most useful service. The only significant criticism I’ve heard is asking for an impossible dream.
Let’s get that impossible dream out of the way first. Some are disappointed that Google only searches the news feeds of the blogs rather than the blogs themselves. That’s the associated RSS or Atom file. This usually includes only the title and a short summary of the content of the blog post.
This way of handling all those blog entries in the blogosphere might appear to compare unfavourably with how Google handles traditional news media. Google News gathers stories from more than 4,500 news sources in English worldwide and updates them every 15 minutes. The search is rapid and impressive. All items in these news sources have been prepared by competent journalists.
The blogosphere is many times larger than the outputs of these chosen news media. The number of bloggers will far exceed the number of journalists. Bloggers may sometimes have limited communications skills. However what the total body of bloggers may lack in professionalism is far outweighed by their sheer numbers. This is the very best world observation system you could imagine. If something important happens then a blogger is likely to blog about it.
Of course Blog Search could hardly rely on the normal search spidering and indexing processes. The immense mountain ranges of information in the full blog postings would put serious delays in becoming aware of new items. This very real problem is completely avoided by relying on the rapid pinging process, whereby blogs alert the world to new items. This is what Google Blog Search relies on and the service is rapid and thorough.
If you want to know whether something important has happened very recently, then Blog Search is the most likely way to find out about it. It’s not surprising that Yahoo! is offering a similar service this week. They could not afford to be absent from this important slice of human activity.