There are a number of ways that content providers can make related information available to readers. One such method is to provide tags on posts which link through to services like Technorati or del.icio.us, so that items which other people have tagged with the same term can be found.
Sphere, however, provides a whole new way of accessing related content on the web. Sphere is all about creating connections between content, whether it’s being produced on blogs and other social media platforms, or through more traditional media platforms.
As the Sphere site states:
By creating connections between contextually relevant mainstream media and blog content, we’re exposing a broader set of Internet readers to blog content, fundamentally giving more power to the people.
Sounds fair enough. So how does Sphere work? Well, there are two main elements: the Sphere home page and the widget, called Sphere It, which can be embedded in any website.
The Sphere website is basically a blog search engine. It’s described pretty well by Michael Arrington at TechCrunch:
The main area of the site is broken down into four columns. On the left are major topics, like Top News, U.S. News, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, etc. Click on any topic and the second column populates with recent news items from Sphere partners (sites like ours, Time.com and others that include the Sphere It functionality) that has generated a lot of buzz, which is calculated based on page views for the item (against an average for the site) and other factors the company isn’t disclosing (but which probably include an anlysis of the extent to which other sites are writing about similar things).
Pretty good stuff. Blog search is dominated by Google, but Sphere could well become a challenger to the likes of TechMeme in terms of monitoring popular stories.
Sphere It is the really cool feature though, as far as content providers and readers are concerned. It’s essentially a widget that appears at the bottom of every post, which when clicked produces a dynamic list of related content, so the reader can follow the story elsewhere in a manner similar to the Sphere homepage.
I’ve installed it on Mediazilla and LGNewMedia as it’s an important way of adding value automatically to any post. It removes the need for readers to go away to a search engine to find further content to read on a subject.
Cross-posted from MediaZilla.