We recently released a plug-in for WordPress Self Hosted blogs. If you’re interested to add Sphere It to your WordPress Self Hosted blog, just download this file from the WordPress Plug-in Directory by clicking here. Then log-in to your blog’s admin panel, go to the Plug-ins tab and activate the Sphere It Contextual Widget. That’s really it.
A read-me is also included. You’ll find it super-easy to implement. A small sample of comments include:
- “I must say it’s a wonderful piece of widget!”
- “It’s working like a charm.”
- “Thanks very much for the Sphere wordpress plug-in, incredibly simple to implement. Truly a great product you guys have made and I am very glad to have it.”
- “I really think that it’s a great tool to sort out relevant news among myriads of post out there.”
- “The installation was as easy as it could get”
- “The Sphere It widget rocks. Not only do my readers get more context, but the changing results are an awesome update for me about things I’m interested in writing about.”
We’d love to get your feedback and we’re looking forward to seeing the widget on your blog. Please let us know if you put it on your site or if you have any questions or issues in getting the plug-in to work. Also, please note the plug-in works well on posts that are about topics that are being actively discussed in the blogosphere.
We’re loving the updated NewTeeVee site, a Sphere It partner. NewTeeVee is one of the excellent blogs in the GigaOm Network (GigaOm; WebWorkerDaily; GigaGamez; NewTeeVee). Om and his team have been awesome partners to Sphere. Along with Liz Gannes (a lead writer on the site) and their lead designer Nicolo Volpato, they’ve put in place a new visual design along with some great new features, my favorite being the VodPod videos displayed at the top of the page. We launched our Sphere It widget on their site a few months ago and to celebrate the new design, our team has updated the Sphere It widget, using our latest design techniques to pick up icons in our header. In this case, an orange retro TV. Congrats to Om, Liz, Nicolo and the GigaOm team.
Jon Callaghan, Co-Founder of True Ventures, wrote a funny post about being “pizzled” – as Jon writes “this is the feeling you get when someone you’re talking with is Blackberry obsessed. It’s a combination of being puzzled at why, at that particular instant, someone decided to interrupt an otherwise good conversation with a glance at his/her Blackberry and being pissed that he/she did so.” I’m a Venture Partner at True and we’ve solved this problem in a sophisticated way – yes that is my little baby on top of the pile, symbolically left at the door.
Sphere’s team is located all over the globe (Berlin, Vancouver, New York, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Boston) making us a so-called “virtual” company. We rarely see each other, so “pizzled” doesn’t really apply to us. We have a different yet quite similar challenge called “kizzled”. That is the moment in a team call when you hear someone pounding away on their keyboard. Worse yet, sometimes you actually get an email in your in-box during the call from someone on the call that has nothing to do with the call. Hmmm. What to do – :).
If you haven’t read MEJ, give it a try. Putting politics aside, I like how Ron Beasley has pulled together a group of friends from different geographies (a virtual blog) to contribute thoughts and opinions. According to Ron, here is the cast:
“MEJ is the project of Ron Beasley a retired engineer who is now a digital artist, freelance philosopher and pundit located in Portland Oregon . Bill is an old friend living in the Washington DC area who reads the newspapers for me and sends links to the good stuff. Jazz Shaw is a former Republican living in New York and a guest pamphleteer at MEJ. Xenophon is a democrat kind of a guy, a liberal, a union man, with some experience participating at the precinct, and county caucus levels. “
The other thing I want to point out is that we’re starting to play with some new ideas on how to make an integral part of the blog template. The end result is a more customized look & feel of the widget than in the past. In this case, we picked up the graphic of Ron (assuming that is Ron), looks like a “mini me”. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.
We’re adding a lot of new sites as Sphere It partners each day. The pace seems to accelerate with each new major partner going live. A few new Sphere It partner sites worth checking out include Like It Matters by our good friend Brian Oberkirk, Beyond Madison Avenue by Caitee Moss, Baby Got Mac by Scott McDaniel, Blue Collar Muse by Ken Marrero, Mac Bros’ Place by John A. MacDonald, New Amsterdam Media by Seth Shapiro and 700i Webmaster by Liz Jamieson.
We’ve been sharing news this week about partner sites. We’ve gotten some nice feedback from readers that they like discovering new sites so I think we’ll keep showcasing partners as they go live. Check back each week for a recap of new partner sites.
We first met Mathew Ingram when I read a post in which he critiqued the various blog search engines, declaring Google Blog Search the winner because “they don’t suck”. A lot of what he said was true, all the players including Sphere have their flaws, so Martin and I reached out to him to get his input. He had some really good insights that have driven some changes we’ve made/ are making to our service.
A few weeks ago, we asked Matthew to try out our Sphere It plug-in. He agreed to do so and it is working well with his content. It’s not perfect but it gets better every week as we make adjustments. I think it says a lot about Mathew’s openness to partner with us as well as the power of dialog that the blogosphere can foster.
Sphere It is a fresh approach to related content that doesn’t rely on the “echo chamber” approach taken by Technorati and others, who show only linked or tagged content, which in many cases is sparse and spammy. We don’t think mainstream internet readers are going to go to a blog search engine to search for blogs, at least not yet. We believe a large number of web users will discover high quality blog posts by using tools like Sphere It (which is essentially a URL search). Look at some of our partners like TIME.com or ZDNet as examples of how well this tool works on a URL search. More and more publishers are looking for ways to engage with the blogosphere and many of them, with broad reach to mainstream Internet readers, are adopting Sphere It. Link based strategies work poorly: too prone to spam, shallow result sets and latency. We believe URL search is an effective way to surface blog posts that are contextually relevant to the article content. Connecting mainstream Internet readers to the larger conversation happening around topics is a big opportunity and that’s what we’re focused on doing.
I was talking with Om Malik this afternoon and he asked why I didn’t show a little more emotion when announcing that Sphere It is live on the New York Times. He said my post read like a stale news announcement and that I should’ve just said how psyched we were to be working with NYT, how that was a big deal for us as well as the blogosphere. All that is true and so for the record, WooooHooo!!!!!!
Tonight I’m just as psyched because we recently added Apple Matters as a partner with our widget. I love reading about Apple and Apple Matters has been one of my favorite blogs since I threw out my PC and got back to my Mac ways. So for the record OM, iWooooHoooo!