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May 23, 2007

Technorati Redesigns, Ruins My Morning Ritual

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I’m feeling a tad unsettled this morning. See, I have a morning routine: My cell phone alarm goes off, I allow myself one snooze, and then I not-so-carefully trip and stumble my way over to my laptop to comfort myself in friendly email (anything scary looking will be ignored) and Technorati stats. Some may think I have a problem but the structure comforts me. Or at least it does when people aren’t playing games with my emotions.

Today I visited Technorati and had no idea what I was looking at. I thought perhaps I had broken something in my daze, but no. David Sifry had simply redesigned the entire thing while I was sleeping last night. I didn’t even get an email.

David says the update was 6 months in the making and was designed to reflect Technorati’s shift from being blog-only to including all forms of social media. The individual searching silos that once differentiated the various searches (keyword, tag, and blog directory) have been removed. Similar to Google’s Universal Search, you tell Technorati what you’re interested in and they’ll assemble the Web’s freshest content for you, regardless if it’s found in blogs, photos, video, podcasts, events, etc.

For better or worse, there’s also a ticker across the top to keep users up-to-date on what people are talking about and searching for at any given time. Personally, I don’t care that people are searching for [anti-depressants] and [Owen Wilson], but maybe you do. I’m sure Susan does. [Yes, I've such a history of loving social media. --Susan] - No, but you do have a history of needing antidepressants and other social anxiety medication. Additional improvements were made to Technorati’s Where’s The Fire and Favorites, and of course, the interface looks very different from what it looked like when I went to sleep last night.

Overall, the redesign is everything I would expect from Technorati after reading David’s State of the Live Web last April. Technorati is expanding from being a just a blog search engine to becoming the "main aggregation point for all forms of social media on the Web". The new design reflects just that.

My opinion of the redesign is generally positive, with a hint of uneasiness.

First off, I hate the default home page. We’re talking an intense, burning hatred for this loud, ugly, cluttered page. I hate the ticker, the tag cloud is entirely too large and I’m not sure I understand how the music category fits in. I realize it has always been there but it’s bothering me more today than it used to. The problem with the home page is that there are far too many places for me to get lost (and there’s far too much orange). I’m there because I want to do a search. Let me do a search without confusing me with flashing lights and things that sparkle.

But I can overlook the home page. Why? Because David Sifry is awesome and has provided Lisa-friendly alternatives. Instead of wincing at a page so loud it smacks me in the face, I can either log into Technorati and get a more muted, more relevant page or, and this is the option I really like, I can pretend that blogs are the only form of social media that exist (cause they are) and use the clean-looking s.technorati.com page that I totally love. Props to Technorati for realizing that not everyone wants to search the entire lot of media. Some of us are just interested in blogs.

I do like the universal search approach, though. I won’t use it every day, but I will use it when I’m looking for a more comprehensive search and I like that it’s at least offered to users. However, there is one thing that’s very troubling. You’ll noticed that if you do a search for [bruce clay], the URL it generates is [www.technorati.com/tag/bruce+clay]. Why is this troubling? Because it’s not searching for any and all content that mentions Bruce Clay, it’s searching for content that is tagged Bruce Clay. That limits the search considerably.

For example, doing that [bruce clay] search brings up a mix of relevant and not-so-relevant search results. Personally, there are far too many Clay Aiken references for me. Bruce has been mentioned on the Web exactly 9 gazillion times. There’s no reason to bring up photos, or even worse, videos of Clay Aiken. As far as I know Bruce Clay and Clay Aiken are not the same person. When Bruce is done optimizing Web sites he doesn’t go off and… what does Clay Aiken do these days? It doesn’t matter. We get the scary Clay Aiken results because it was tagged [bruce] and [clay]. That has to be fixed.

This worries me further because we don’t tag our blog posts. There are categories, but we don’t specifically tag. Does this mean our posts won’t show up in a Technorati search? How many other blogs will be excluded from the blog search if Technorati isn’t searching full text? This could be a major problem. It also tries to force people into tagging things and I don’t like anyone trying to push my hand. I get enough of that from Susan. [I solemnly swear I'm not planning on forcing you to tag anything. At the moment. --Susan] – As if you have the authority to "force" me to do anything.

So, overall I like where Technorati is going with this (as long as they keep their blog-only search page option), but I am concerned. I’m impressed with how Technorati has handled this whole "live Web". I’m impressed that they were able to exploit a Google vulnerability and claim the market for their own. However, I don’t want to see them going 100 percent social media and forget what they were. I don’t want my blog search to be compromised because not everyone is tagging things. Improve on what you have, but don’t take away your staples.

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One response to “Technorati Redesigns, Ruins My Morning Ritual”

  1. Derick writes:

    I especially like the fact that if you do a search for [bruce clay] and then click on the “Blog” tag it says “There are no Technorati blogs about bruce clay”.

    Kinda makes me wonder what the heck I’m reading here then.



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