Other Points: A New Service on All Points Blog

By Adena Schutzberg

All Points Blog Enhanced
I want to use this space to describe a new feature we have added to All Points Blog (APB). We are adding a page that lists links to just "the best" posts from the many geospatial blogs available today.

If you've ventured into the blogosphere to explore geospatial technologies, you know there's an explosion of blogs in this space. That's very healthy and it means that our community has access to bloggers of all stripes: those who are developers, those who specialize in surveying, those who are interested in GIS in other countries, those interested in 3D, those focusing on one technology or another (Google Maps/Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, ESRI), those focusing on one industry or another, those sitting in leadership positions in the commercial and public sector… The challenge then is how the geospatial professional keeps up with all of this material.

Our Solution
A few websites help answer that question. James Fee's Planet Geospatial is the ultimate aggregation. Fee gathers links and introductory paragraphs to posts from some 30 geospatial blogs. He offers every post from every blog on a website and via an RSS feed. It's quite valuable, and I, like many others, appreciate his contribution to our community. Slashgeo offers a Slashdot-like look at the geospatial community with several posters noting material of interest.

At APB we want to offer something a bit different. The "Other Points" page offers our pick of the "best of the rest" of the blog posts. Each business day we will look at the posts from blogs we find valuable and list for you the posts we feel are worth your time. To keep things simple, we'll offer the name of the source blog, the title of the post and a link.

Why are we doing this? A few reasons:
  1. There's little need for us to post to our blog that, say, "Stefan at Ogle Earth found an interesting site." Stefan, like many other bloggers, writes well and there's no need for us to repeat his take.
  2. There's no reason to spread the commentary on a blog post across the blogosphere. If readers want to post a comment on a topic, the best way is simply to comment on the source blog. Now, some blogs don't allow that, so you have to write about it on your own blog, creating a trackback. By using those methods, nearly all the discussion on a topic is linked from the originating blog.
  3. We are all in a time crunch. More and more people want to "scan the headlines" once (or perhaps twice) a day. Why scan more than you need to? We'll filter out the duplicates and off-topic posts so you can get to the important material more quickly.
  4. No need for RSS readers. If you are into RSS, great; but many people I speak with are not, and can't be bothered. Our "Other Points" webpage offers an index anyone can navigate. See something of interest? Click through to read the whole story on the originating blog.
  5. We believe in human intervention. Search engines are great, but only people in the industry know what's important and what is not.
  6. We can't cover everything. We'd do a disservice to our core area around geospatial technologies if we focused too much on Google’s or Microsoft's offerings, or ESRI's or Autodesk's. Other bloggers have the interest and expertise in those areas and we want readers to find that material quickly and easily.
We launched the APB enhancements this week, as a "beta." It's a work in progress and we want your help in making it as useful as possible. Have a look. Did we miss something that should have been there? Is there a new blog we should follow? Could the format be better? Let us know via the "Suggestions" button on APB.

State of APB

We launched APB just over a year ago to provide a "quick and dirty" way to get news and opinion out in a timely fashion. Today, Directions Media editors along with Jeremy Crampton at Georgia State University contribute to the blog. Hopefully, Directions Magazine readers have had a look at our blog by visiting the website, via links in the Monday newsletter, links from the homepage, or via our RSS feed.

We've been most pleased with the feedback on APB. We get quite a few comments and trackbacks (where others write about and refer to posts on APB) and we are proud to be on other blogs' blogrolls (lists of blogs they find useful). We receive hot tips from readers and vendors, and even other publications. We were most pleased to get an e-mail from an editor at Time Magazine a few weeks ago, for example. We hope these endorsements, along with the addition of "Other Points," will entice you to give APB a look and make it part of your geospatial newsgathering toolbox.

Published Saturday, March 11th, 2006

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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