Monday, July 7, 2008

Zemanta: A Blogger's Friend

Every blogger is eager to complete posts quickly and accurately. Yet, finding relevant information for their visitors can be a chore or hassle. This can lead to writer's block and fewer posts, leading to less blog traffic. Overcoming writer's block is not impossible but requires dedication and tenacity. An easy process to get relief is to use a writing formula or template.

When I get stuck, I tend to sit and stare.  Time ticks. One helpful hint that works for me is to write a sentence and try to write a paragraph around it. I also write, edit, delete, more words and sentences around as I'm writing.

Last April, Chris Brogan published a concise formula for a blog post. The steps begin with finding a picture, followed by writing a strong paragraph and ensuring there is structure to the posting. Chris's blog entry is a model of how to write effective posts.  However, completing the steps are not easy. The content must come from your knowledge, research, and experience.

What if  your browser understood what you are blogging about and suggested pictures, links, articles and tags to make the posts more vibrant? More important, what if  all of this happens while you are writing your post.

According to the Zemanta website, their product analyzes the blog text and recommends additional content you can use to spice it up.

  • saves time - relevant content from around the web brought to you as you're typing.

  • drives traffic - search engines love better tagged content. Plus, Zemanta links your posts to others across the web having related conversations.

  • works everywhere - you can use Zemanta on any popular blogging platform or browser


                 Image via Wikipedia


A Drupal module for Zemanta is available for version 5.x and 6.x. The modules are beta versions, labeled "First public beta release of Zemanta module for Drupal5."

After extraction of the compresed file, two files for version 5.x were uploaded to this server and enabled.  Next, the block for Zemanta was configured and now only appears for adding blog and story content. As I'm writing this blog entry, the block is spinning with a message, " Retrieving suggestions." There is also a message stating: "Suggestions will appear when you write 300 characters or click the button above. Until then here are some interesting pictures from Flickr." A gallery of nine images show below this message. A click on the image pasted it right into this story. Cool.

Sadly, a push of the button does not bring content. Since this is a test post, I'm going to click on review post and see what happens.

Unfortunately, after pressing the review button, the page did not render properly. I lost the post and had to start over.  Luckily, a copy of the post was pasted into Windows Live Writer and I did not Lose everything. Zemanta is still spinning.

Would Zemanta be helpful for you?

Drupal 5.x users may want to help the project by installing and trying. Wordpress and Movable Type versions are available.  Go for it and let us know.  Did Zemanta work for you?

Update: After posting, the image destroyed the layout on the front page and was removed. Interestingly, the suggestions from the module were now present.  I used several of the link suggestions and put in the related articles code.