Q&A with Zemanta’s Boštjan Špetič on Auto Suggestion WordPress Plugin

Over email I asked Zemanta’s Director of Products, Boštjan Špetiča, to discuss his firm’s new blogging discovery / auto-suggestion service and the WordPress plugin they recently released:

What is Zemanta?

Zemanta helps you create rich posts by recognizing your topic and suggesting useful links, tags, and pictures. So it makes the web experience nicer for both authors and their readers. Zemanta is a relaxed state of mind, where you focus on creativity instead of tricking the search engines to show what you are looking for.

How was the company formed, and where are you located?

The company is based in London and all our development is based in Slovenia, where the founders are from. Our core contextual technology was developed for a project for generating online archives of national television.

After that, we figured it’s a shame nobody is making this experience available to everyone online. We applied for Seedcamp, a European version of Y-combinator, won, and then moved everybody to London for a three-months geek picnic experience. Since then we’ve raised funding and launched the service in March of ’08.

Why should bloggers use the Zemanta WordPress plugin?

It’s painless, it’s pleasant, it takes most the friction out of creating the content. The question is, why would anyone not use it?

Describe the process you took to create the WordPress plugin.  Any lessons learned about plugin development you could share with others?

When we first started working on Zemanta WordPress plugin, we did not know much about WordPress platform or PHP. So we set a modest goal of making a plugin for version 2.5.

We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of information you can find on Codex or when that is not enough, in the WP community. Our advice to those, who might follow our footsteps would be to read introductory articles on Codex and read relevant parts of code of other popular plugins that perform similar tasks. It’s amazing how quickly you may reach your goal even if you are a novice when it comes to PHP and WP.

How is Zemanta different from other related-content products and services?

Some only offer some of the functionality (i.e. tags), some only help the readers instead of authors, some are simply hard to use. We are a one-stop-shop with special attention paid to usability and design.

We are also offering access to increasing number of premium content, where we make sure it is appropriately licensed. Sometimes people think we are just an interface to some picture search, while we actually do much more to deliver only the best select images.

What’s been the most surprising event since you launched your product?

Fred Wilson blogging about it. Twice.

What new features do you have on the roadmap that users of your WordPress plugin can look forward to?

Most prominent new feature on the roadmap is the ability to limit suggestions to your preferred trusted sources, or your friends or your own feeds. Along with more freedom at layouts, this will make our service very much personalized, as it should be in the social media.

Thanks Boštjan for your time. You can read more about Zemanta on their site, and download their WordPress plugin from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

Boštjan is the Director of Products at Zemanta, and blogs frequently at bostjan.konstrukt.it.

NPR Intern Edition Powered by WordPress

NPR Intern Edition Spring 2008 is a new blog for the NPR radio/podcast show:

It’s spring 2008, and this is Intern Edition from NPR. Our show is about stories and how we tell them.

Intern Edition began in the summer of 1999 as a way for NPR interns to get hands-on experience with pitching, reporting, editing, producing, and directing their own show.  It grew out of NPR’s umbrella outreach and hands-on training program called “Next Generation Radio.”

The blog looks great using a modified Kubrick theme.  It also has integrated an audio player plugin for quick listening options ( as they’ve done in this post ), and a social bookmarking feature using the Share This plugin.

Thanks to Pressed Words for the heads-up.

[ Visit NPR Intern Edition ]

Arbu: “WordPress Doesn’t Just Blog”

Arbu, a new media agency based in the UK, just published a post titled “WordPress Doesn’t Just Blog …”:

… it rocks, rolls, cleans our teeth and rummages around in our psyche. Well, perhaps not, but while editing the Colintraive & Glendaruel Community Website (which is run using WordPress and a basic hack of Kubrick) it occurred to me that Arbu has implemented websites using WP for all sorts of purposes and rarely for straight blogging. In fact when I thought about it properly, very few of the sites we produce are actually blogs.

In the post they highlight community, commerce, social networking, and other types of sites being built with WordPress.

[Visit arbu.co.uk ]

9rules Community Site Powered by WordPress and bbPress

When publishers ask me for a great example of a community site built with WordPress, I always mention 9rules.com, a site where you can “Share. Learn. Discover” :
9rules screenshot

Built with WordPress and seamlessly integrated with our discussion forum software bbPress the site includes member profiles, streams, private messages, twitter and flickr integration, and much more.

As 9rules wrote on their blog a few months ago:

When it comes to coding up this site we have three options:

1. Do it ourselves.
2. Put a blindfold over Tyme’s eyes and four keyboards and hope that after a week of solitude she pushed out something cool.
3. Get someone else to do it.

We went with 1 and 3, but not in the way you might be thinking. The core of 9rules is powered by WordPress, bbPress and simplepie. Now you can’t get both of those packages, install them and all of a sudden have another 9rules. We customized them a ton to fit our needs, but without them as the foundation we wouldn’t be close to where we are now.

(emphasis mine)

[ Visit 9rules.com ]

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