Posted by aogWednesday, 19 February 2003 at 15:36 TrackBack Ping URL
Shaun Bourke posted a comment concerning a BBC story about the Google buyout of Pyra (the BlogSpot company) which was intriguing:
I believe Google is positioning itself to become the pre-eminent news service.....with Reuters, amongst others, in decline coupled with a general decline in broadsheet readership, I believe in the future most of our news and views will be [disseminated] via the web
This is very interesting, because of my view that mainstream penetration of the blogosphere into the mainstream will required some form of personal customized aggregation of blog content. This is not some startling insight so it would hardly be a surprise if someone at Google has also figured it out. Think of a combination of BlogSpot for generating content with a Google News layer on top. In addition it would be a simple matter of setting up individual accounts at Google that allowed you to add / exclude blogs from your blogosphere view along with the ability to aggregate blogs. Suppose you could set up your own categories (ala "Science", "World", "US") and aggregate your favorites blogs on a page like Google News. You'd be close to something that would be easily usable by the average Internet user and useful for advanced users with a lot of good content. Currently BlogSpot doesn't support RSS but that would be simple for Google to add (BlogSpot Premium has it already). Google could also get revenue from its bloggers by selling (for instance) comment support.

I don't think that this is a plan for becoming the next world dominating media organization, but it does seem like one could carve out a reasonably profitable business in this space. I think that this area will also have a strong "first mover" effect where who ever gets there first will be able to set standards that will endure because of network effects. Google could easily say "use this standard if you want to get scanned for GooglerNews". As long as the standard isn't odious it would be widely adopted and any new entrant would have to be compliant. And note that Google doesn't have to do any original reporting - all of the content is generated for free (from Google's point of view). With BlogSpot, if someone moves over to a personal website then that's a lost customer for BlogSpot. But for Googler, as long as the blog follows the standard Google still gets the content to drive other products.

There are other possibilities as well. Trackback technology would be very interesting here as well. It would be simple for Googler to rank blogs by the number of Trackbacks recieved by the author. (Would Googler need that? It already tracks that to some extent ... could Googler automatically provide links from a blog post to all other scanned blogs that reference it? Could it then filter that list using a personal blog list?). Ultimately, though, the driving force must be provide access for the non-digerati. Technical features must take a back seat to ease of use and comprehensiblity and that's something Google has managed to do well.