Well, Google has finally released their Blog Search feature. We've been waiting for this for months after having first seen a demo back in the spring. Now, we know that the wait has been well worth it. They have done an excellent job and should be congratulated by all. It is clear to me that Google's Blog Search, even though still in "beta", is the fastest and most powerful of the retrospective blog search engines. I'm sure that Yahoo!, MSN, and others will soon offer competitive services, but Google has certainly raised the bar on what it means to offer a quality retrospective blog search capability. Of course, that is one would expect from an organization like Google.
I'm particularly happy that Google's Blog Search was built in Google's New York offices. That means that New York is now the home of both the finest retrospective Blog Search engine (Google's) as well as the finest prospective matching engine (PubSub's)! Back in the 90's, New York's "Silicon Alley" tried hard but failed to take a place of prominence compared to California's "Silicon Valley." What we're seeing here is that Big Apple still has some bite in her!
A wonderful personal benefit of seeing Google finally release their service is that I'll finally be able to stop explaining to people why we've resisted releasing our own retrospective blog search engine! We knew the Google was going to release theirs and didn't want to build a business on a service that we knew wouldn't be able to compete with theirs. Thus, we've stuck to building the best prospective capability on the Internet -- something which is truly innovative rather than "just another blog search engine."
Of course, the release of Google Blog Search also means that it may now be "safe" for us to release our own retrospective engine since we can now properly position it as something which compliments our prospective services rather than being a service that tries to compete in the retrospective search market. For example: One thing many users complain about is that when they create a PubSub subscription, the results are empty until new entries are published on blogs in the future. Searching the future is nice, but our users would like to dip at least a little way into the past... What people would like us to do is run a quick retrospective search to "fill in" their initial results list with the entries that would have been picked up if they had simply created their subscriptions a little earlier. We haven't wanted to release this capability (even though we've had it running internally) since we were afraid that people would realize that they could use it as a way to execute retrospective searches and might use it in lieu of the often slow and broken alternatives that have been typical in the blog search domain. If that had happened, today we'd be doing what all the other retrospective blog search engines are doing -- explaining how they will react to losing all their users to Google...
The responsiveness of the Google's system seems to be very impressive. I'm hoping that grabPerf will add them to the sites they monitor so that we can see how they do. My expectation is that Google's Blog Search will end up coming out faster than the traditional Google Search system which means that they will be delivering responsiveness as good (if not better...) than PubSub does. We're currently the fastest responding search engine in the grabPerf results. Now, Google Blog Search may be the first to give us some real competition! But, given that we're delivering results in less than 500 milliseconds and often in the 100-200 millisecond range, users aren't going to be able to tell the difference. In any case, given that the other search engines can't even come close to us, the competition in this realm is clearly between the two Google's and PubSub.
Over the last few years, a great deal of the energy and resources of the companies building the blogosphere's infrastructure has been poured into the problem of building "Little Googles" -- retrospective search engines. The cost to us has been that more innovative technologies have not been developed as rapidly as might otherwise have happened. My hope is that now we'll all be able to move on to doing some really exciting things in the blogosphere instead of just building yet-another-search-engine. At PubSub, we'll continue to build out and strengthen our prospective search engine and expand drastically the range of content streams that we process (weblogs, newsgroups, earthquakes, airport delays, press releases, etc.). We'll also be working hard to make Structured Blogging successful and we'll be stressing the instant delivery of updates that is made possible by our Jabber/XMPP based PubSub Sidebars.
First Microsoft "validated" the blogosphere by declaring that RSS/Atom would be an integral and important part of Windows Vista/Longhorn. Now, Google has validated the syndication system by providing us with a solid retrospective search capability. This space is soon to explode! The fun will continue.