Thursday, December 22, 2005


Ther's a new Blog search engine called Sphere.
Sphere team members think they will solve the Blog relevance problem by concentrating on relationships between Blogs, pushing spam-blogs way down the page, matching Blog content with relevant web articles from mainstream media, analysing metadata, analysing content semantic -All these techniques seem to be more of the same old macro-content techniques. I believe that in order to really push forward a solution to the relevancy of Blogs they'd better search the solution with MICROCONTENT techniques. I'll help them if they want…

Here's what I collected about Sphere:

1. - Om Malik on Sphere: Too much of a good thing
I met this morning with Tony Conrad, CEO of Sphere, the new blog search engine.He told me that he and his team had carefully calibrated the release of the beta version, first testing it in a small group, and then gradually expanding. But when his friend, Om Malik, gave Sphere a thumbs-up in a blogpost, 20,000 people rushed to sign up for the beta version.It was far more than Sphere was ready to handle.

Sphere is a blog search engine focused on discovering high quality, relevant blogs on a timely basis.We started as a tiny virtual company based in San Francisco. This past January, the three of us (Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, and Steve Nieker) founded Sphere because we believe we could build a better blog search engine.Along the way, we met with some angels with halos -- Phil Black, Doug Mackenzie, Kevin Compton, Will Hearst, David Mahoney, Vince Vannelli, and Mike Winton -- who wanted to support our vision. So we raised a little money to get started.
We are strong believers in the blogosphere. We hope Sphere, focused solely on returning the most relevant user-generated content, will help readers explore the blogosphere more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to become bloggers themselves and contribute to the 'sphere.

3. Playing with Sphere Beta (by Jeremy Zawodny)
Tony Conrad, CEO of Sphere, came by Yahoo! on Friday to give a few of us a look at the blog search technology they've been building.
He started off by explaining the company background (ties to Oddpost) and the small team that's been tackling the problem from a different angle. Unlike other engines that focus on trying to index every single blog, deal in link ranking, etc, Sphere puts an emphasis on trying to understand the content of individual posts.With that understanding, Sphere can then be smarter about finding related content from other sources, including some mainstream media.

- TECHNOSIGHT " Interview with Sphere CEO Tony Conrad
Prior to co-founding Sphere, I was a general partner in an early-stage venture capital fund where he led consumer-tech and marketing software and services investments.I served on the boards of directors for Oddpost (acquired by Yahoo), Iconoculture, MusicNow (acquired by Circuit City), and Centive. I also played an active role managing investments in Post Communications (NASDAQ: NTVS) and Stoneyfield Farms (acquired by Groupe Danone).
Sphere’s relevance/authority algorithm rewards authentic blogs and penalizes splogs, fake blogs (flogs?) etc. by taking into a account a wide range of data points (metadata, link patterns, posting patterns) that we gather about a blog.Our algorithmic approach has yielded great results so far, and improvements to our algorithm are ongoing.

Om Malik writes about Sphere, the Relevant Blog Search
The team has built the product with less than $200,000. The company is headed by Tony Conrad, who is a reformed VC who in past life had funded companies
Lets use an example say of what else, Broadband. The look for blogs that write about broadband, (including those with broadband in the title of the blog) to create a short list. If I am linking to someone who is also a broadband blogger, and vice-versa, Sphere puts a lot of value on that relationship.
...tend to push what seems like spam-blog way down the page.
The coolest feature they have is matching Blog content with relevant web articles from mainstream media.

6. Tony Conrad, Sphere's CEO, gave me a tour of today, a new blog search engine. He started out by saying that Mary Hodder is on their advisory board.

Sphere is a new blog search engine that quite frankly blows everything, and I mean everything, I’ve seen out of the water in terms of relevance.
Their approach involves three key algorithms - an analysis of links into and out of a blog, an analysis of metadata around a post (links, post frequency, length of posts, etc.), and something Tony calls their “secret sauce”, which is content semantic analysis to filter out spam and to understand what a blog post is talking about.

The engine seems to do a good job at extracting the actual content of pages, and not include “surroundings” like blogrolls.
I like the idea of displaying relevant blogs and news article for a particular search term. What is not clear to me is which news source are used currently.
The overall UI is actually quite clean. I sense the touch of Adaptive Path in the design.

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