Studio, +1

Back in March, 2011, Google trotted out its +1 button – a little widget that shows up next to your search results enabling you to “vote up” a particular result with the click. It is essentially another sharing button, but it comes with some strings – Google gains the ability to “tailor” your advertisements and results based on what you +1 (I see a new verb in the lexicon). In order to use and track them, you need to create a Google Profile, and your +1 saves will show on that profile, either publicly or privately. It isn’t a bad way to keep track of things you like, much like a Google bookmarking system, with benefits.

Now, Google is releasing the code to its +1 button and rolling the button out to major sites. Publishers can drop the code into their sites to make it even easier to mark down +1’s – if you click on a search result and view a page that you like, you can then hit the button there, instead of on the search results list. Check out the tutorial over at Mashable on how to add it to your site’s CSS / HTML editor. Or, you can do what I did on my self-hosted WordPress blog and add a plug-in that automatically adds the button to each post.

If you already have share buttons on your site, the +1 is a no-brainer. If you happen to garner a lot of +1’s, the number will show in the search results, which further impels your content in a viral direction. Like a universal recommendation icon for the Web. With these options, adding the button is easy, and encourages sharing, which, as they say, is caring. Hey – feel free to +1 this post, and click the little button at the top left!


Enhancing Your Blog with Apture

I saw Apture a few days ago and I am back here in the Studio today trying it out. What is Apture? For my purposes, Apture is a killer plug-in for my blog that nearly automates linking multi-media rich content into my blog posts. Apture’s sell is that the modern Web should be three-dimension, not flat, and that their plug-in allows for easy implementation of layers and depth in blog posts, encouraging readers to truly browse your content.

Apture is seeking to add context to the Web, to connect disparate elements that share a connection. That connection depends upon the relevance of the subject matter of your reading material. Apture will then open a window to access web-wide content and connect or embed it into your article or post. In essence, Apture allows web publishers to assist the process of semantically or contextually linking information across the airwaves. Plus it makes your blog posts really really cool to read.

How does it work? After downloading the plug-in and following the steps in the set-up wizard within your blog editor, you will see two new upload/insert buttons to the top right:

As you write your post, simply highlight text and click of the Apture link button. A window opens showing options:

As you can see, you can search by keywords (it automatically adds your highlighted text into the search box). You can then filter its recommendations by types. It also pulls your own prior posts for backlinking. You also can upload your own content to enhance the highlighted text. Items that can be added include video, images, reference articles, maps, audio, documents or books, person information, articles or web pages. Apture wants you to abandon the basic link button in your editor in favor of their “super link” button that connects with you a wider array of content within the blog editor itself.

Apture displays the links on the page in its “power browser” – readers explore linked content within a dynamic JavaScript-based windows without leaving the site.

You also can embed Apture links right into the blog post with the embed button to the right of the link button. It will create a similar javascript window that automatically shows within the post without a mouseover or click.

Apture links are preserved in RSS feeds and within RSS readers and are not blocked by pop-up blockers. While Apture does not currently support editing of content sources, you can still upload your own content or manually link to content via URL or embed code.

By now you are probably wondering, “how much for all this linking, multi-media goodness?” Well, guess what? Blogs or sites with less than five million page views per month can use Apture for free! The big players pay so us little guys can play! Apture is now prominently displayed on such media giants as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Lawrence Lessig and Techcrunch France. And now, you can display it too (link here).

Between Zemanta and Apture, I might never have to manually research and link a blog post again! Check out my links above and let me know what you think! I think it is pretty Jetsons.

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