Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blogniscient and franchising

Blogniscient had a makeover today. I don't like the new coloured buttons denoting the sub-category of blog entries. Is every politics blog LEFT or RIGHT? How about a button for TRUTH? Or maybe OBJECTIVE? It is interesting to note that of the five channels, all of them have a source with multiple entries in the top six last time I looked. Also, they abandon the default colorisation of search results, which is blue title, black snippet text and green site name and other attribute text. I'm tossing up using additional colour coding for various data within Tinfinger's result listings, so it is a bit disingenuous for me to say this, but it seems weird to me to start off adhering to the de facto standard and then changing it to something people aren't familiar with.

Apparently the dude behind Blogniscient, Ben Ruedlinger (doesn't he play QB for the Steelers?), hired a consultant to redesign the site help find experts to redesign the site who has blogged about it. I can see why Ben might have thought his original design was too derivative of Google News - complete with Google logo! - but dammit, it's the standard people have come to expect, so why buck the system. On the new logo and tagline:

With that aim, the new tagline became The bird’s eye view of the Blogosphere. The change was the result of some brainstorming we did to properly communicate to users what they can use Blogniscient to do. The new logo although somewhat subtle ties in nicely with this message. The arch and dot connecting the two ‘i’s’ appear as a simple eye but also represents a musical term called a fermata. A fermata is often referred to as a bird’s eye.

I read the Three Fermata of Palmer Eldritch, good book that. An eye? Looks more like some other body parts I could mention. Actually, it looks most like a sunrise which is showing a very worrying sunspot, which for Star Trek fans usually results in vacating the vicinity of that star at warp speed. "Somewhat subtle" is too subtle, IMO. Personally I wouldn't trust consultants to mess with some of my most important corporate decisions, which logo and CSS definitely are for a Web business.

It's good that Blogniscient has three more channels than Memeorandum, but they are still waaaaay too broad. Someone is going to build a site which franchises out the human-moderated RSS aggregator channel concept to expand it to hundreds and thousands of mass niches. Probably not me!

Here's how I would see that working, BTW. To create your own subsite, you must:
  • Pay a formidably large upfront fee, say US$500 (to discourage tirekickers and SEO spammers)
  • Prepay a monthly fee to keep that keyword active for you
  • Forfeit your data to the aggregator owner if your payments cease
  • Enter in news sites, blogs, and any other RSS feed relevant to your keyword
  • Maintain that whitelist of feeds to ensure high quality of results

For all this, you get:
  • A sliding scale percentage of Google AdSense/YPN/Adbrite/Blogads/whatever revenue from ads on that channel (ad account controlled by the aggregator owner who takes his/her cut, but you have full access to stats)
  • An exclusive on that keyword (i.e. if you want knitting, then no other knitting channels are sold)
Of course, this would only be worthwhile for the franchisees if they pick a popular keyword and stick with it, but that's what the aggregators want. Imagine a network of Gabe Riveras, all paying Gabe (or someone else?) for the privilege of franchising his clustering code and working hard to produce channels with the same quality as Memeorandum's two existing pages. That's how I think you monetise content aggregation. Not that it has much to do with Tinfinger, I'm just saying.


Anonymous Ken Yarmosh said...

Paul..if you read my post a bit more carefully, it's pretty apparent that I wasn't hired to re-design the site. Neither was I the one who did the logo or decided the CSS elements for Ben (two things which you mention you wouldn't trust consultants to help you with). I simply assisted Ben and Blogniscient with these efforts by leveraging my contacts and knowledge in this space, as well as using my project management skills for the tasks at hand. you have examples of politcal bloggers you consider objective? I'd be very interested to see what you consider objective versus what I'd consider objective.

Best of luck with Tinfinger.

11:48 am, October 30, 2005  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Quite right Ken, I apologise for the oversight.

I guess I was being flippant about the OBJECTIVE button. That's what the news stories are supposed to be, not the blogs. Call me an idealist!

4:33 pm, October 30, 2005  

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