Snap HotShots Tries to Show the Linkgeist of the Web

hotshots.pngEvery day, Snap collects 15 million links from bloggers and others across the Web that use Snap Shots on their sites. We use Snap Shots on TechCrunch. Hover your mouse over any link, and a preview of that Website will appear in a small new window without leaving the site you are on. If the link is to a video, photo, MP3, map, stock chart, Amazon product, Wikipedia entry, movie profile, Social networking profile, or RSS feed, a customized shot will appear that lets Web surfers watch the video, stream the MP3, or see the map in question. Two million blogs and Websites use Snap Shots, and now Snap is revealing the most popular shots by different category at Snap HotShots.

If Google Zeitgeist is an attempt to tap into our cultural mindset by exposing popular search terms, Snap HotShots is an attempt to show what’s popular based on what bloggers and other people on the Web are linking to. “It’s a distributed Zeitgeist view of what is in the consciousness of the blogs that use Snap Shots,” says Snap CEO Tom McGovern. For each different type of Snap Shot (video, photo, map, music, Web page, rss feed, etc.) the HotShot page shows the three fastest-rising links, the three fastest-dropping, and the three steadiest. These are based on the top 50 Shots in each group. For instance, for the week ended March 22, some of the hottest links were to Barack Obama’s speech on race, Arthur C. Clarke’s Wikipedia profile, and Eliot Spitzer call-girl Ashley Alexandra Duprey’s MySpace page (which seems to no longer be available).

I like the idea behind HotShots. What he have here is the germ of the Web’s linkgeist—what bloggers and others are linking to right now. Techmeme tries to do this for technology blogs, but this is a broader cut that could turn up more surprising trends. But there is also alot more noise to sift through.

HotShots still needs a lot of work. For one thing, it is already April. Showing us what was hot the week of March 22 is kind of pointless. For instance, the Rick Roll video on YouTube is shown to be declining, which is almost certainly no longer the case. The HotShots page should be updated daily, if not hourly for it to become truly useful. Secondly, it would be great to see more of the underlying data. Right now you can only see the nine links per category, not the top 50 on which the data is based. Thirdly, the category which should be the most useful (the PreviewShot that shows straight web page links) is the oddest of the lot. The hottest PreviewShots that week were links to +SOL, a new Russian social networking marketing agency, and Vogate, the “AdSense” of China. These may be interesting, but completely out of context for most American readers. I may or may not care what bloggers are linking to in Russia. Sorting links by geography—maybe U.S. and worldwide at the very least—would be more helpful.