Happy New Year (and Zemanta)

Rodney the RamImage via Wikipedia

Academics go by a different timeline than the rest of the world.  Our year does not start on January 1, but rather on the first day of the Fall semester.  There is a different feel to Virginia Commonwealth University today with smiling students jossling between buildings and classrooms.  I threw the switch on my online class, and already a quarter of the students have peeked in!

I am also typing this just to try out Zemanta, after seeing a couple of tweets from Darren Draper. It is advertised as a blogging tool that “saves you time, brings more traffic and makes your posts beautiful.”  Not sure much can be done to beautify my posts…but I see the rationale.  If – while you were drafting – an “intelligent agent”understood what you are blogging about and suggested pictures, links, articles and tags – it would – as the advertisement suggests – make your posts more “vibrant.”  In other words, while you craft your post, Zemanta analyzes the text and recommends additional content you can use to spice it up.  Since I belong to the category of “I could use all the help I can get,” this seems like a useful tool.

And in my first drive it seems pretty easy to use.  I downloaded the Firefox Add-On and it loaded into the sidebar of my Edublog dashboard.  As I type and save, it updates suggested Creative Commons pictures (which is where I pulled the image of our mascot above), and also gives me suggested links, such as the VCU, Zemanta, Creative Commons, and Edublog links above.  It did not suggest a link for Darren, so it is not foolproof.

But even with that, it really does speed up the blogging process in embedding links, so I will continue to test drive it for awhile.  I need to work on the picture side.  It seems to only let me put one suggested picture in.  If I selected a second picture, it replaces the first.  Might be operator error.  But I can upload a second picture manually, as I just did with the logo to the left.

Be interested in how others have used it, and any tips on better use.

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4 thoughts on “Happy New Year (and Zemanta)

  1. Hi Britt,

    Our product is certainly not as comprehensive as Zemanta, but I think it does the linking part a lot better:
    *You get link suggestions from Yahoo search, and not only Wikipedia
    *The suggestions are marked in context
    *You can select any text and get search results, and link directly without leaving your editor
    *It works well side by side with Zemanta

    Give it a try in kaalga.com

    Thanks, Amit.

  2. Thanks for giving Zemanta a try. One image insertion is a limitation of current version of Zemanta, but we’re fixing this in our next release.

    We’re also doing some things within your social space, so we might be able to automatically find link to Darren in the future.

    I’d also like to correct Amit, that we don’t only provide links to Wikipedia but a wide variety of sources like Amazon, IMDB, homepages and such.

    If you have any problems or suggestions, I’m happy to hear about it, just drop me a mail – jure@zemanta.com or visit our forums – getsatisfaction.com/zemanta

    Jure Cuhalev, Zemanta

  3. Hi Britt,
    I’m also using Zemanta, for a while, as a Firefox add-on.
    It has been very handy, up till now, suggesting appropriate content always related to my drafts; as for the links and the tags, it has been most useful.
    Thank you for sharing about the images, I didn’t know how to handle them.
    I have set up a new blog for my students, entirely in Portuguese: only there Zemanta cannot follow me, but it keeps offering me tips for links that are very funny.
    I’m also using BlogRovr: it is a very smart dog that brings you every sort of blog, site or whatever he finds on line related to what you are reading or looking for.
    It was nice to visit you again.

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