Many blogs display a list of “recent” blog posts or “most popular” blog posts in their sidebars, using a plugin widget. But those lists of blogs stay the same regardless of who is visiting the blog.
Imagine a sidebar widget for a blog that can consider the online activities of visitors at sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Digg, and Netflix, and recommend older blog posts from the blog being visited.
This widget might not only look at tweets and status updates and digs, or tags posted for pictures and favorited videos, but it may also pay attention to what those visitors blog about on their own sites, or what they enter into a user profile, or which articles they may read on a site.
A Yahoo patent application describes how they might put together such a widget, and how it might gather information to use to make recommendations:
Augmenting Online Content with Additional Content Relevant to User Interests
Invented by Saurabh Sahni, Ian Kennedy, Pankaj Kothari, Todd Sampson, Emanuel Miller, John Sampson, Chris Goffinet, Steve Ho, Raymund Ramos, Mani Kumar
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20100023506
Published January 28, 2010
Filed: December 31, 2008
The patent provides some examples of how this widget could work. We’re told that it could be implemented as a plugin for blogging software like WordPress, and it could connect to a lifestreaming service such as MyBlogLog or Friendfeed or others. Lifestreaming services allow people to aggregate and display information from multiple social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter or Delicious.
An example from the patent filing on how this widget might work:
As an example, suppose that two users, Alice and Bob, are residents of San Francisco. Bob frequently blogs (i.e., writes blog entries on his blog site) about Web 2.0 and social media, and sometimes about San Francisco. Alice recently posted a video on the YouTube.TM. video sharing web site and photos on the Flickr.TM. photo sharing web site, both tagged San Francisco. Also, Alice’s profile on the LinkedIn.TM. social networking web site suggests that she is a doctor.
Alice blogs about San Francisco, medicines, and related topics. Bob posted a comment in a recent post related to San Francisco on Alice’s blog. The URL of Bob’s blog was included in Bob’s comment, and Alice curiously clicked on the URL to find content of interest to her on Bob’s blog. However, most of Bob’s recent posts are related to Web 2.0, with only some of Bob’s older posts being related to San Francisco.
The older posts are not shown on Bob’s blog unless they are specifically requested, e.g. by following web links to older posts or by searching for older posts that contain the words San Francisco. Alice does not see the older posts when she visits the main page of Bob’s blog, and consequently does not see any content of interest.
The widget may be added to Bob’s blog site to solve this problem. More specifically, Bob’s blog may include a plugin link in the blog content, e.g., in an HTML page that contains the blog content. The plugin link causes the web site to display posts relevant to the visitor’s interests. These relevant posts may be displayed, for example, on a side portion of the web page. The posts relevant to Alice’s interests (San Francisco) are made more visible, e.g., highlighted, by the widget, allowing Alice to quickly spot Bob’s older San Francisco-related posts that interest her.
The patent filing goes into a fair amount of depth on different ways that it might capture information involving a person’s social network activities to build a profile that could be used to identify blog posts that might interest that person. It also mentions MyBlogLog as a possible source of some of this information.
There were some rumors circulating at the end of 2009 that Yahoo might close down MyBlogLog. A fairly quick response from the Yahoo Developer’s Network blog, one day after the start of the rumors noted that closing MyBlogLog was something they had considered, but gave us notice that something else might be in the works:
Is a shutdown on the table? Sure, that’s an option. But there are other options as well. We know this creates some uncertainty for current MyBlogLog users. While we aren’t quite ready to share more details, we promise to keep you posted.
Is a widget like this one a possible option in the future of MyBlogLog? It’s a possibility.