My New Team of Blogging Assistants

Yes, I’ve gotten lazy with blogging and decided to “hire” a team of assistants.  We’ll see how it goes.

So, let me introduce you to the team: Zemanta, a plugin I just discovered.  The plugin can interface with your blogging system (which is what I’ve chosen) or your browser.

In my MovableType posting window, I have a new column from Zemanta. As I type, the plugin scans my text and recommends related images that are not restricted by copyright and web articles. All I need to do is click one to have it inserted into the post.

Additionally, I uploaded the OPML file from my Google Reader account, an RSS feed aggregator, and told it about my Twitter and Flickr photos.  So I have a “My Sources” tab.  When I click it, the suggested photos and related posts (and tweets) are restricted to those people I follow on Twitter and who follow me, the blogs and other RSS feeds I aggregate, and the pictures I’ve posted to Flickr.

Zemanta scans my blog’s RSS feed for previous posts related to the content in the article I’m currently typing.  They are even working to have it read your blog archives for related posts you have ever published on your blog.  (That’s a feature I’m really eager to get!)

And, as if that weren’t enough, Zemanta recommends links for the text I type.  For example, it recommends 4 different link possibilities for Google Reader.  Links are also suggested for Zemanta, MovableType, well… all of the links I’ve chosen to add (with one click) and more.

And…  Yes, there’s even more…  Zemanta suggests tags to be used for each post based on the content of the post.  I personally really appreciate this feature as I tend to struggle a second with tagging my posts.

I can choose to have Zemanta crawl my blog and use it as a recommended source of information to other bloggers who also use Zemanta, bringing more readers to my content.  Other features exist that I haven’t mentioned:  for example, it will even work with Google Mail!

My readers know I’m always experimenting with new blogging tools and resources.  Only a few of them have endured the test of time for me.  Probably my favorite of all time continues to be AnswerTips.  Readers can double click any word on my blog (tat isn’t a link) and get information about that word, typically a definition.  (You did know that, right?  If not, check out my sidebar from time to time.)

I’m hoping Zemanta will become a favorite tool.  I’ve tried and abandoned other similar tools that were not as seamless, customizable, or sophisticated.  Not only does Zemanta enrich my reader’s experience, inform my writing and inspiration with resources, provide me with control over how the tool functions on my site, and attract readership to my blog, its MovableType interface is slick, unobtrusive, and easy to use.

I’m liking it.  In fact, I like it so much at this point, I may well be enticed to abandon my desktop blogging client!