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Buzzing about Sphere

Mike Arrington kicked off a new round of buzz in the blogosphere yesterday, with his review of the aptly-named Sphere.  Sphere, for those not in the know, is a new blog search engine. 

I’ve been on the Sphere beta for some months, but not used it much.  My impressions:

  • Sphere It! is a genuinely useful feature.  From any web page you are reading, you can punch the Sphere It! button, and see all the related commentary in the blogosphere.
  • I like the idea of Featured Results, but I don’t understand the selection criteria.  Is it manual, or is there an algorithm?
  • The graphical custom date range seems to not work for me.  I am not sure whether this is a browser security setting, or something else.  More investigation is needed.  In general, I would say Sphere’s knowledge of dates is flawed.  For instance, just a few moments ago I wrote about Chris Anderson’s musings on Time and the Long Tail.  Sphere indexed it very quickly, but thinks it was written 18 hours ago.
  • Creating a feed which is ranked by relevance doesn’t seem to work.  I queried sphere for Voice 2.0, and then fed the proffered RSS feed to Bloglines which produced a very different set of results from the Sphere page I had just been looking at.

Sphere has lots of promise, and has earned a place in my toolkit for the "Sphere It!" feature.  It seems unfinished, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a lot of value from what’s there already.

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