Why Blogs are better than Google.

Today, as I searched for some breaking news and technology insights, I was struck by how much better informed you tend to be after reading a few blogs targeted to a topic (and following related links and sites and ask questions) than when you simply search Google (or Yahoo or MSN or, if you enjoyed the silly and short lived TV campaign, ASK).    

Don’t get me wrong – I like the search engines and I love the way you can quickly winnow through billions of pages down to the handful that are relevant and good for your topic.     But I’m noticing how increasingly I wind up turning to blogs *first* for the best news, links, and insight.    I’m beginning to understand why I’m doing that, and why it’s a big deal.

There are the obvious advantages to blogs over websites.   They are fresher (ie recent and new content) – especially compared to Google searches that often yield so much old content.   They usually offer some community components so you feel like you are “where the action is” on topics.   This is usually true for major blogs.  TechCrunch is a key watering hole for startups, HuffingtonPost.com for liberal political folks, etc.

However these advantages are secondary to the fact that as blogs mature they offer an excellent “human powered search engine” for your niche of interest, and as we all know humans still beat out computers in terms of understanding what information is most relevant to our inquiry when it is a broad field of interest.

Again, the TechCrunch Technology blog is a great example of this.  A search in Google for “startups” or “technology news” or “venture capital” will give some good results, but even a careful study of those results won’t give you nearly the insight you’ll get from a one hour session at TechCrunch.     Even a Silicon Valley startup new arrival – or distant silicon startup wannabe, could sound like a veteran if they simply kept up with the parade of posts from Mike Arrington and his clever crowd at TechCrunch.

I think this blog advantage breaks down as you move into very specific topics, but it’s going way up as an advantage in the study of general topics as blogs explode and gather traction and community.     Of course there are caveats to this.   Learning in any form takes time, and you would never simply stuble into a blog about a topic without checking other blogs and sites related to that.   But my point is that once you find “the key blogs” about a topic, even if it is a contentious one, you’ll find through those blogs links, references, breaking news, and a community of other interested parties.   This complex, interactive, cross referenced community experience is how humans learn best, and the internet is making that type of learning exponentially easier to obtain.     

6 thoughts on “Why Blogs are better than Google.

  1. I think one particular example of the superiority of narrowly focused blogs over general news sources located through general search engines is the recent news item on MSNBC describing the Absolute Poker incident as a ‘geeky programmer who hacked into the site to prove a point and carried it a little too far’. This MSNBC puff piece never looked beyond the poker site’s self-serving press releases. All the poker blogs and general gambling blogs had already gone well beyond such self-serving excuses and determined it was an insider who had access to all player’s hole cards in real time during the tournament. Most everyone who went to the general news source found misleading pablum when the hardhitting truth was already known by the blog readers who had specialized knowledge of the game, the programming and the cheating methods available.

  2. Thanks FG – an excellent comparison. It’s notable that blogs are a very new development in publishing and even as an online phenomenon – there were only a “handful” of blogs until several years ago. Yet already they are challenging the viability of parts of the publishing world, especially news.

  3. The obvious problem is that MSNBC’s news items are rather easy to find. That Pablum Piece was read by zillions. The more thought provoking and technologically oriented analyses are less readily available to the masses.

  4. I think you’re setting up search engines as a straw man, to be honest. Isn’t your critique really about narrowly focused niche media — very often blogs these days — versus mainstream media? And, if that’s the case, why is the result so surprising? By definition, specialized, niche media have always provided better insight about … well, niches … than mainstream media.

    The main thing that has changed in the past 5-7 years is that blogs have become a substitute in many cases for what, in the past, was primarily the domain of print specialized media. And that, of course, is simply a function of the declining cost of creating blogs, and the declining cost of Internet access.

    One thing that I’ve learned through our experience at Zuula, however, is that the mainstream media still can have a much, much more dramatic effect on awareness and traffic at a sight than most blogs. There’s just no comparison.

    Thanks for making us all think about these issues!

  5. Boris yes it’s kind of apples and oranges here to compare search and blogs, and I agree that traffic sources are still mainstream media (though the recent study by TechCrunch where TechMeme traffic was much, much greater than the NYT Tech site traffic was very interesting.

    But I’m thinking to the future and wondering how much we’ll replace Google style searching with, for example, searching for the best niche blog and then taking it from there.

  6. Good thoughts.
    Blogs are better because as you said, blogs are written by humans about the latest events. But search includes irrelevant topics also. Machine intelligence is still far behind human intelligence.

    Another thing to note is that blogs are relevant than search results because, we search for them manualy. We visit many blogs, but only read the ones which we feel are useful. So naturally, they are more useful.

    Also, check out my article “Why we do not need yet another search engine” for a different perspective on search.

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