July 24, 2006

Technorati turns 3, rolls out a major update

After months of work and weeks of testing, we just released an updated version of technorati.com. I hope after spending some time with the updated service, you’ll join me in celebrating its release.

For those of you with ADD, you can jump to the bottom of this post to get a summary of the changes and new features. For some basics, you can read our FAQ. Or, you can view the screencast created by our product manager, Liz Dunn, by clicking on the video below:

What's New at Technorati

Three years ago this month, Technorati was officially incorporated and became a “real” company, moving out of the "science project" phase of its life. Since then, so much has happened – not only has Technorati grown and changed, so has the live web. When I first started Technorati, my primary concern was how to be of service to a growing universe of bloggers, which then numbered in the thousands. Today, we’re tracking about 50 million blogs and we’re increasingly including other forms of citizen media, including photos and video.

While we got a lot of positive feedback from bloggers about the core Technorati service, we were increasingly hearing that we weren’t being of equal service to folks who are new to the live web. And because our mantra is to be of service – we set about renovating the Technorati site to make it easier to use for all people, whether they regularly create stuff on the web or not.

In short, we sought to make Technorati easier and more intuitive to search, discover and organize the World Live Web. What we released today is a big step in that direction.

First, in addition to a simpler and brighter design, we've continued to improve our core search technologies that index new information within minutes of being posted to the Web. We listened hard to your feedback - and redesigned the search results pages to include much less intrusive (and well-marked) ads, more results above the fold, and better sorting options - including sorting by language, authority, and freshness. If you're confused, you can get a deeper explanation of keyword results and of URL results. In addition, our link-counting mechanisms have also been dramatically improved. If you're a blogger, you should notice that your blog is being counted much more regularly, and that your rankings and authority information is much more accurate and up-to-date. If you've claimed your blog on Technorati, make sure to Sign In - we've worked hard to personalize your experience around the site to help you keep track of who is linking to you and what you care about, especially on the Technorati homepage.

Part of this work is also to make things simpler and more stable, so that we can understand and respond to all of your support requests. Hopefully, it'll also reduce the confusion! I know that some folks have sent in support tickets that we haven't answered. If you're in that camp, I'm sorry. I hope that with the back-end and front-end changes, you'll find Technorati more usable and easier to understand. Give us another try. I hope our revamped help section will answer any remaining questions you have, but if not, drop us another line.

Second, we've worked hard to make serendipitous discovery of interesting stuff easier and more intuitive. Our new “Discover” section, drawing on a commonly understood newspaper metaphor, organizes the blogosphere into easily recognized categories, within which some of the most interesting recent posts are highlighted. From news and tech, to sports, business and life, scanning what’s hot in the global conversation at any given moment in time is now only one click away. In case you're wondering how we did this, Liz has a screencast for later this week that will explain. Suffice it to say that if you want your posts included in the discover section, you'll first want to claim your blogs and then configure them with information on the things you regularly write about.

We've improved and updated our Popular section, putting all of the most interesting information on one page, including top searches and tags, The Technorati Top 100, the Most Favorited Blogs, Videos, Books, News, and Movies.

Third, Technorati’s Favorites feature has also been improved, enabling you to select and organize those blogs you like the most, and to see the most recent posts from your favorites each time you return to the homepage (you just need to be signed in!) The service now makes it easier to organize your Favorite blogs by simplifying the process of “favoriting” a blog in multiple ways, including right from your browser bar (drag that link to your browser's toolbar).
If you've ever wanted to just get a better handle on who a blogger is and what they write about, have a look at our revamped blog directory. Simply put in a blog's URL into that searchbox and you'll get an at-a-glance view of what that blog is, how influential it is, and what the blogger writes about - even some interesting stats like their reach (thanks to Alexa), posting frequency, and more.

Finally, we’ve worked hard to do a much better job of highlighting the people behind the global phenomenon – the writers, the poets, the journalists, the commentators, the artists, the prognosticators, the grand-standers, the filmmakers, the justice-seekers, the photographers, the simple diarists and everyone else who publishes their expressions on the Web. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing the many ways in which we try to highlight the people who are the real power driving everything we do – we've put a lot more of these member photos on the site and I hope you enjoy learning more about the folks you love following most.

We've also been doing lots of advertising, syndication, and partnerships of late as well - you may have noticed that you can now see Technorati integrated into the Wall Street Journal Online, joining partnerships with The Washington Post, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, The Associated Press, and many other major media sites. If you're interested in advertising or a partnership, drop us a line.

Please let us know what you think and how it is we can continue to be of service to you as we seek to be the major intersection on the World Live Web.

So, in summary:

  • Technorati is 3 years old! What an amazing trip so far.
  • The World Live Web is all about people - We're here to help make sense of all the interesting stuff we do in real-time.
  • Technorati's rolled out a major update to our site and to our back-end systems.
  • We've made some major speed and accuracy improvements in core search.
  • Link counting is a lot more accurate and timely.
  • We've personalized the homepage so you can get a look at all the stuff you care about on one page.
  • While we love expert bloggers, we've also spent a lot of time making Technorati understandable to normal people.
  • We've added in lots of features to help you make sense of the blogosphere, including Discover, which is topic-based, Favorites, which gives YOU the power to pick your favorite blogs, and Popular, which algorithmically derives the most linked-to items in the last few days.
  • We've made some big changes to blog profiles - allowing you to get stats about any blog that Technorati tracks, including the tags used, posting frequency, traffic, and Technorati ranking.
  • We've made things easier for advertisers and partners, and we've been overwhelmed with demand. We're building out our capabilities, and if you're interested in advertising, drop us a line.
  • This is just a start - there's more to come in the coming weeks and months, including better charts, more real-time spam detection and elimination, more real-time media indexing, microformats integration, and additional localization and language support.

If there's one thing I'm sure of, after 20 years of building internet services and web businesses, it's that we haven't got it all right. We're going to spend a lot of time listening to you, and fixing, tuning, and tweaking. What have we got wrong? What is still broken? Believe me, I have a list about 3 feet long of those! What have we missed?

I'd appreciate it if you can use the tag on your posts, or send a trackback or comment on this post. I can't promise I'll get back to everyone with an immediate answer, but I promise that I'll read them all.

I'd also like to send out a big THANK YOU to the entire team at Technorati for all the hard work they put into this, and also to all of our great alpha and beta testers, who gave us such great feedback prior to the launch. THANKS!

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July 10, 2006

Guy Kawasaki Interview / Link count update

IMG_0260Guy Kawasaki has put up an interview with me that we did over email a couple of weeks ago. Guy was the first person I'd ever heard called a technology evangelist, and I've followed his career since he was at Apple in the 1980's and I was in high school in New York, hearing about magical places called Mountain View, Cupertino, and Palo Alto. His book The Macintosh Way changed my life, and molded the way that I think about products and the companies that build them. Guy was also one of the people that I'd always wanted to meet, but for some reason, we'd never had the chance until earlier this year, when I had the opportunity to give him a signed Technorati t-shirt (I learned from the master) when he entered the Technorati 100.

By the way, you may notice that the Top 100 may jump around a little this week, or that some non-blogs (or blog hosting tools) may occasionally sneak in for a short time - we're doing some maintenance on that code, and I apologize in advance if you see anything wonky. We're doing a major rollout of our link counting system this week which will make it more accurate and show updates more quickly. Because link counts had gotten stalled for some people in the past, we're clearing out a lot of the backlog over the next week or two, and this may cause a bit of strangeness with some of our applications like the Top 100.

The goal is to make sure that Technorati is always accurate, responsive, and comprehensive. Sorry if you see some mess over the next few weeks as we fully roll this new system into production.

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