Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Time.com Adds “Sphere It” Links

San Francisco-based blog search engine Sphere is less than a month old, and already has links to its “Sphere It” functionality embedded in a number of time.com articles (example). Tony Conrad, Sphere’s CEO, says that they are currently testing the feature with Time.com.

The links are prominently placed below the headlines of articles and link directly to Sphere blog search results related to the topic. I wrote about Sphere It in my initial profile of Sphere - under “more tools” near the end. Sphere It is a Sphere feature that allows users to find relevant blog content from any URL. The easiest way to use it is to install the Sphere It bookmarklet into the browser. Click it while on any web page and relevant Sphere blog search results will be brought up.

Unlike Technorati’s “Technorati This” feature, which shows blog entries that link to the URL being searched, Sphere It doesn’t report links. Rather, it does a semantic analysis on the text within the page being searched and returns blog results that it finds relevant to the article. For more on the difference between Sphere It and Technorati This, see Sphere CEO Tony Conrad’s blog post here.

To see an example, the Sphere It results for the above article, on General Michael Hayden’s nomination to head up the CIA, returns these Sphere blog search results. A quick perusal shows what I consider to be very relevant blog content. The speed of the search, which is done in real time, is also impressive.

While this type of exposure is excellent for new startup Sphere, it’s also great for the blogosphere. I would imagine the average Time.com reader is not fully aware of what blogs have to offer in terms of breaking news and (often) intelligent commentary. This should drive more mainstream Internet users to the blogosphere over time.

The Sphere It bookmarklet is available here.

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