Its never too late for camp; not in Redmond, Wash., anyway.
The start of fall marks the annual "MSN Search Champs Camp," which software giant Microsoft Corp. holds for the purpose of investigating how it can better integrate Weblogs into Microsofts Internet search results.
The event, held last week, gathers together Microsoft search honchos and writers of "blogs," the frequently updated online journals that usually offer links to Web sites the author favors.
The bloggers then spend a few days telling Microsoft how MSN Search, Microsofts popular search engine, can better integrate their work into its search results, according to several 2005 camp attendees. Substantive details of the sometimes raucous discussions are kept secret.
Taken in a broader context, the camps (this is the third) spotlight how Internet search providers are coming under increasing pressure to include blogs with their search results, a nod to the new mediums growing importance and popularity.
Yahoo Inc. and other search giants have responded to the growth of blogs, along with a bevy of startup blog-search specialists, but all with tepid results.
"Really, everything out there is pretty bad right now," said Andru Edwards, who publishes GearLive.com, a blog devoted to consumer electronics. Edwards attended this years MSN Search Champs Camp.
Edwards and a few of this years nine "champs" that were interviewed or wrote of the camp on their blogs wouldnt comment about the substance of the discussions, or about a sneak peek Microsoft gave of its blog search developments.
Many, however, spoke or wrote in very general terms. Of her experience, Gina Trapani, editor of software and Web site tips blog Lifehacker, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.com that she "got to hear what an outspoken group of bloggers want and expect from search, which was very interesting to me as a Web developer and a blogger."
"Being Web pages on crack, Weblogs are the place to look for ways to make search better," she added. "Personally, I think all the current blog search offerings suck. So theres a huge opportunity. Maybe Microsoft will take advantage of it, and maybe they wont."
This year, Microsoft "listened to our feedback," wrote camp participant Elizabeth Lane Lawley, director of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
"Nine champs, a very unstructured day in a couch-filled room with a few key discussion topics. Seem[s] like a winning formula," Lawley wrote on her blog.
In 2004, dozens of attendees got a sneak peek of new Microsoft search developments during a bevy of impersonal "PowerPoint-driven, classroom-style format" presentations, she added.