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9/3/2009
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Google's Blogger Turns Ten, Offers Presents

Blogger at ten shows no sign of slowing down, but social networks and new modes of publishing could send personal publishing in new directions.

Blogger, launched in August 1999, has just turned ten and to celebrate, Google, which acquired the company in February 2003, has been handing out presents of a sort.

In a blog post -- how else? -- Google product manager Rick Klau explains that the company is commemorating the occasion with two new presents -- you can call them features -- on top of the five introduced last month.

Blogger users now have access to a gadget that allows readers to make charitable donations through Socialvibe, a social media company. And they also now have access to a free version of BlogPress, an iPhone blogging app, that has been designed to be used exclusively with Blogger.

"We're proud that Blogger continues to be a force for free expression worldwide and that it is growing quickly despite its maturity," said Klau. "In the past two years alone, the number of people contributing to a blog has more than doubled, and every second of every day, a new blog is created on Blogger."

According to Klau, more than 300 million people visit Blogger pages every month.

August also marks the seventh anniversary of Gawker Media, which launched the Gizmodo blog in August 2002. Marketing director Erin Pettigrew observes in a blog post that publisher Nick Denton's blogging empire now includes eight titles that generate 353 million page views per month from more than 20 million unique readers. Blogging, it turns out, can be a pretty good business, at least among those with the fortitude to compete in online publishing.

At the same time, the rise of Twitter-style micro-blogging and social networks, not to mention a newspaper industry seeking ways to limit the exploitation of reporting by aggregators and other third-parties, could limit the future appeal of blogging. The social media toolset has expanded and blogs have become one medium of expression among many. While this may not mean much to writers who publish original content or reporting on their blogs, it could alter the viability of the copy-and-comment economy.

Google is taking steps to do just that, at least in the context of herd-driven news reporting. In what appears to be an olive branch to newspaper publishers, Google has added a section to Google News called Spotlight. The section, Google explains, "is updated periodically with news and in-depth pieces of lasting value. These stories, which are automatically selected by our computer algorithms, include investigative journalism, opinion pieces, special-interest articles, and other stories of enduring appeal."

In other words, Spotlight aims to promote stories of quality, in contrast to the typical Google News story which may be featured by virtue of the number of people writing about a specific topic rather than because it's well-written or well-reported.

If the quality of content can be discerned algorithmically, the creation of a new blog every second won't be as noteworthy as the frequency at which good blogs are created.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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