Shortly before I switched this blog to WordPress, I learned about a new tool called Zemanta. It was supposed to provide context-sensitive links and images, chosen dynamically to be relevant to the work in progress. It sounded pretty cool, and I tried to set it up under Drupal, but couldn’t quite get it done. After switching to WordPress, I was happy to see that Zemanta setup was a breeze.
I’ve been using Zemanta for a few weeks now, and I’m really, really happy with it. My initial impressions were a bit iffy – images were inserted in a way that made it difficult to move the image without leaving the citation caption behind, for instance. Zemanta keeps improving the plugin and the service, though, and my early problems have lessened considerably.
Zemanta gives you a little sidebar as you’re editing your blog entry – there’s a plugin that works right in WordPress’ editor, and you can also install it as an add-on for Windows Live Writer. The two main areas you’ll see in the sidebar are a set of images and a set of related links. When you want to use one of the images or links, you click on it, and it drops into your post – it’s just that easy.
There’s nothing that Zemanta does that you couldn’t do yourself, but what I’ve found is that Zemanta makes the process of creating a nice-looking post so much easier, that I’m more likely to sit down and pop out a quick post now, because I can click in an image or two and some related links, and I’ve got a post that doesn’t look like I mailed it in from my smartphone.
This post, for instance, took about fifteen minutes end-to-end – considerably less than I’d have spent if I’d had to go find images, resize them, upload them and insert them, and then go find links to add as well. More likely, I probably would have skipped the “related links” altogether. Zemanta makes my blog better, and easier too.