On a recent post about blogging, one commentator going by the monicker “ozz”, asked why I was running, not only Alex King’s ShareThis plugin (accessed below by clicking the little green networking icon), but also the Sphere: Related Content plugin.
Well, the fundamental answer is that I hoped these two features would be of use to you the reader. ShareThis allows you to bookmark or email particular posts of interest. It avoids the issue of having dozens of icons and chicklets for all the different online bookmarking and social news sites out there, by collapsing them all into an expandable drop-down menu instead. An alternative would be to have the equally as terse AddThis icon.
As to Sphere, I try to produce at least one post every week day for the site, but I cannot cover all topics, so the Sphere plugin gives you a better range of options once you have finished reading my post, you can either click the related articles on this site, or the Sphere button and head off to pastures new.
As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that Sphere also offers bloggers themselves a useful means to boost their presence around the blogosphere. The Sphere plugin brings up related articles and posts on other sites, right? So, as a blogger, you should be keeping up with those posts yourself, to give you breadth of background information. You could simply use what you read to improve and focus your own opinions or, and this is hopefully the clever bit, you could post a comment on those related articles pointing readers there back to your own post on the related subject. (Please don’t take this as a call to spam, it’s not). That way you are hopefully adding value to the rest of the blogosphere as well as making the most of your own posts.