Searching blogs for local content

The Belgian weekly newsletter T-Zine has just published an article about the site of the Belgian National Institute of Statistics (N.I.S./I.N.S.). This government agency publishes census data on population, employment, investments, …
Quickly browsing through some numbers shows e.g. that Belgium has the lowest % of people working between 50 and 64 years old in the European Union (we’re at 40%, Sweden is at 72%), which might indicate that we allow ‘pre-pension’ (retiring at 50 or 55) too easily.

The site also have a very complete list of links to the world’s country statistics, so if you want to know

  • how many inhabitants Belarus had in 2002 (9.940.000 – it’s way bigger than Ireland and I didn’t even have a clue where it was!)
  • how popular mobile phones are in Malta ( 290.000 phones on a population of 395.000: 73% penetration rate – Belgium is at 83%)
  • who the European Internet early and late adopters are (in 2001, Iceland had 69% of its citizens that were Internet users, Greece 13%)

it’s a great place to start. They even have a RSS newsfeed, I kid you not. Do not make fun of Belgian e-government.

On a related topic, I was trying to find out if this mentioning of the site in T-Zine had led to Belgian Blog activity.
Searching on Technorati and Feedster on ‘statbel‘ gave me nothing, so I started looking to other blog search engines.
The results:

Search on … ‘statbel’ statbel.fgov.be George Bush
(Reality check)
Remarks
Blogdex 0 0 25 results (only shows 1st 25) Not really impressed
Bloglines 108 results 108 results (same) 36.981 results Very thorough, I was suprised.
Feedster 0 0 21.886 results Unreliable (down 50% of the time)
Technorati 0 15 results 1.110 results (last 7 days) Scored bad on keyword, but better on URL search
Waypath 0 0 26.367 results Looks nice, but not impressed with the results

Basically the answer was: no recent related blog activity, but certainly the statbel.fgov.be site has been referenced in the past so Technorati and Bloglines seem to be the better sources for searching.

Next question I asked myself was: let’s say I wanted to limit this search to only Belgian blogs. How hard would that be?

  • In Google one could use “site:.be“, but 1) Google is not ideal for blog-only search, and 2) not all Belgian bloggers have a .be domain (blogspot.com users, for one)
  • Luk Van Braekel has a map of Belgian Bloggers @ lvb.net, but that list of Belgian blogs is not public and is not complete (currently 85 blogs – Luk, you can probably guess how I know ;-).
  • Blogwise has a list of Belgian blogs, but you can’t search them and the list is not complete (currently 218 entries – LVBlog is not there)
  • one can search on Dutch words like ‘statistieken’ in order to limit the results to dutch-written blogs, but this might also include .nl blogs (God forbid) and excludes Belgian dudes that write in English (pompous bastards).
  • none of the blog search engines supports geograpical searching

Makes one wonder, is there an opportunity for localised (European) blog search?

PS: I’ve added all the above mentioned blog search engines to my StereoSearch page.

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