April 22, 2007

Overgrown Redwood Log and Wildflowers

Overgrown Redwood Log and Wildflowers - 7634.jpg Had a wonderful weekend enjoying the lush Northern California spring up in the redwoods. One of the joys is just slowing down and breathing the clear, crisp, fresh air, full of Oxygen - you can just feel the difference, even if San Francisco is one of the top cities in terms of air quality, it still is just fresher up in the mountains.

And spring is absolutely bursting up there - this picture was taken in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, which was as lush as I've ever seen it. It was wonderful to go walking with a tripod and a basic 50mm lens, and to just slow down, breathe, and find just the right shot. This one had it all for me - the moss-covered log, the clover, and the tiny blue wildflowers just bursting through the ground - you could almost hear them growing, pushing through the earth, enjoying their life. If you like the shot, go and download the original size - I just love the details in this shot.

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April 19, 2007

Sanford "Sandy" Robertson Joins the Technorati Board

The good news just keeps on coming here at Technorati. I'm so excited to let you know that the legendary technology investment pioneer Sanford "Sandy" Robertson has joined our Board of Directors, effective immediately.

I met Sandy in January at the World Economic Forum, where, much to my delight, we formed a fast friendship. The better we got to know one another, the more I became convinced Sandy would be an incredible addition to the Board leadership at Technorati.

Sandy is a principal of Francisco Partners, which is one of the world's largest technology buyout funds. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Sandy was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., which most of you will remember was the leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Since then, Sandy has been an active technology investor and advisor to a number of amazing technology companies, and currently serves on the boards of the Democratic Leadership Council, Dolby Laboratories, Inc., Pain Therapeutics, Inc., salesforce.com, Inc., and the Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving

Perhaps most interesting to me, he has had significant financing involvement, including IPOs and secondary financings in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation, America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc., Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation, E*Trade Securities, Inc., Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc.

I'm really looking forward to learning from Sandy - he immediately struck me with his personal charisma, integrity, deep experience, and insightful business mind. As we continue our growth, Sandy's sage advice and wealth of experience will prove invaluable to our growth and future success. Welcome aboard!

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April 17, 2007

Help Support the Friends of the Urban Forest: Arcadia Silent Auction this weekend!

Lake at Tioga Pass and Debris, Yosemite I'm excited to be working with the folks at the Friends of the Urban Forest to help promote their Arcadia Art Auction that is happening this weekend, and I'm tickled to announce that one of my photographs was selected to be shown and auctioned as well.

This is a framed, signed archival print in a numbered series of 50. I made it during a trip to Yosemite last summer, just as the final snow melt was occurring at Tioga Pass.

The Friends of the Urban Forest is a great organization - they go out and plant trees in cities, helping to keep our earth cooler, creating shade, and making our cities more beautiful. There's lots of beautiful art available at the auction, and tickets aren't very expensive. If you live in the San Francisco bay area, go out this Sunday or Monday and show your support for the folks that help to keep our wonderful city green.

If you're outside the area but want to bid, you can get the absentee bid form.

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April 14, 2007

Strolling Past the Bookstore with Clouds

Strolling Past the Bookstore with Clouds - 7257.jpg

Experimenting with the Zone System on an early morning in Portland, OR. Sometimes all the pieces just come together - and sometimes you wait patiently for the shot. This one was the latter - I loved the composition, and knew it had room for one more element - someone crossing the street at the lower left.

April 11, 2007

Our First Major Acquisition!

Okay, this is exciting and it's been really hard to keep it a secret until now: Technorati has completed our first major acquisition, a great company called Personal Bee. I'm excited about this for a number of reasons, which I'll get into in a moment, but let me summarize by saying that Personal Bee is going to add some very powerful and engaging social publishing features to Technorati.com. And, the Bee platform will help expand Technorati's Conversational Marketing System, our product that helps brands to engage their audience and enter the global conversation. (You can see examples of the system in place on sites like Shut Up And Sing and An Inconvenient Truth)

Now the details: Personal Bee is a media collection platform that enables the each of us to curate and publish our own personal sites around topics, issues, or anything else we choose. It lets anyone (that means you) create and update collections of interesting citizen and mainstream media, publish them to a personal or public page, and start a following. I've been using it for a while now and let me tell you: it's fast, it's easy, and it's FUN.

It's all about democratizing the media. Social media has always been social for the people creating it, and now the people consuming it will get to join the fun. Anyone can be a publisher without having to write a blog, create a video, or anything else. All of us, the people formerly known as the audience, can create and publish collections of many forms of media, and attract our own audience if we choose.

For content creators and brands, recreational and professional alike, this will offer a whole other range of benefits. The Bee platform makes it quick and easy (turnkey, if you will) to create and deploy conversational and informative micro-sites full of dynamic and engaging blog posts, videos, photos, podcasts, and more. It allows these folks to foster communities quickly, and it'll give them the tools to monitor and manage the ebb and flow of information at their discretion.

Ted Shelton, the founder of Personal Bee , will be joining the Technorati team as our VP of Business Development and he'll have an important role helping to bring the two technology platforms together. There's still a lot of work to be done; lots of code to crunch, and lots of features to deploy. But whether you're a publisher, a reader, a brand, or all of the above, I hope you'll view this new range of services as helpful, useful, and more than a little fun, so check back often because great things are happening as we speak.

Links:

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April 9, 2007

The Love of a Good Book is Timeless

The Love of a Good Book is Timeless - 7153.jpg

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April 6, 2007

Embracing Change

It's been a busy week at Technorati - new widgets, a report on the state of our company and, of course our all new State of the Live Web, which incorporates our original State of the Blogosphere. Even after all that, there's still one more piece of news I'd like to share with you this week.

I believe in building great companies. And the only way to build a great company is to bring on board the very best and brightest people. In the end, it is the team of people that make a company great, no matter who started it, or however remarkable the original technology innovation. Having the right people in the right job at the right time has been absolutely critical to the success we've enjoyed so far. I've always believed that if there is a better person for any job here at Technorati, we should do everything in our power to get that person in the door.

As I said earlier this week, we will soon celebrate the 4th anniversary of our incorporation - which seems so amazing to me, especially when I think of just how many "Web 2.0" companies have either disappeared or been swallowed whole. Here we are, four years later, still standing, still thriving. We're growing, changing and facing an abundance of new opportunities.

I also shared with you earlier this week about how Technorati has evolved from my original vision of building and providing the world's best blog search service to one that constitutes a new kind of media company - one that aggregates social media in real time from across the entirety of the Live Web based on the immediate interests and needs of our users. This evolution has been central to the amazing growth we're experiencing.

So it was at this time of great growth that I approached our Board of Directors about re-examining roles and to talk about ensuring the right people are in the right place in the company, and especially if there was someone out there who could perform the role of CEO better than I could. I'm really proud to have brought us to where we are - with nearly 10 million unique visitors per month, clearly we're doing something right. But I put forward the question: How are we going to drive that to 100 million visitors per month and beyond? What do we need to really take us up another level? And so we've decided to cast our net to see if we can find an incredible, talented woman or man - someone who shares our values and our vision - who is that perfect person to take this company to that level.

I want to be clear: I don't come to this decision lightly. I've thought long and hard about this and believe bringing in new blood may be the best way for us to continue to grow Technorati and to ensure the company soars to ever greater accomplishment. One more thing I want to be clear about: I adore the company I created - after my family, it's my proudest achievement, and I have no intention of leaving. Like other founders of some of our best-known and legendary technology companies, I intend to play a vital, ongoing role here at Technorati. If anything, I expect to resume a more active role in product development, driving innovation, and listening hard to our users while giving them the best service in the business. Maybe even get in a bit of coding every now and then.

So, now I have an unusual request: We're looking for world-class candidates. if you know or consider yourself a person who can lead this ground-breaking company to that next great level, I want to hear about it. We're looking for someone with proven operational experience, ideally in an end-user-facing internet company, who has presided over significant revenue growth and helped to scale the organization, and has had hands-on experience at an executive level leading an IPO. Send an email to jobs@technorati.com with any details you have and a resume or CV. I'll make sure our professional executive recruiters immediately get the information you share with us together with my thoughts on the recommendation, and all submissions will be held strictly confidential.

My expectation is that this search could take a while - we're absolutely committed to getting the right person, and not making compromises on that. The board and I agree totally on this, and it is very gratifying to have their unqualified support for me to continue in the CEO job until we find that absolute right person. Throughout the process, I will continue to lead the explosive growth we're experiencing and demanding only the most amazing results from our equally amazing team here at Technorati. I know all of us here can continue to rely on the good will and best wishes of you, our friends and users, and for all the support I have received these last four years from more people than I can count, I want to say, simply, thank you.

Stay tuned for more great things from Technorati.

Throughout all of this, I am constantly reminded about how lucky I am. There aren't that many people in the world who get the chance to work with such a wonderful, smart, energetic, and results-driven team like the one we have here at Technorati. I'm constantly humbled by the wealth of experience, energy, and smarts that surrounds me every day. This all flows from our credo, which is to Be of Service, something which, no matter who sits in the CEO chair in the future, will never change.

UPDATE: Techcrunch picked up on this, you can have a read over there.

UPDATE 2: People have been reacting to this post, and have some great stuff out there: Doc Searls, Dorion Caroll, Ian Kallen. Dorion and Ian are employees here at Technorati, BTW. Thanks, guys, your support means a lot.

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April 5, 2007

The State of the Live Web, April 2007

Hey, it's that time again, time to slow down, take a deep breath, and dig into the data!

About this Report, and the Obligatory Plug for Technorati

Technorati is known widely for its quarterly State of the Blogosphere reports, analyzing the trends around blogs and blogging. With this report, we expand on this tradition by introducing information and analysis relating to the broader range of social media on the Web -- what we and many others call the Live Web (another good definition). Technorati continues to grow well beyond its roots at the leading blog search engine; increasingly, we are the main aggregation point for all forms of social media on the Web, including blogs, of course, but also video, photos, audio such as podcasts and much more.

What makes this possible is the rise in the use of tags across all forms of social media and the increasing implementation of tags by the publishing platforms supporting each form of media. Increasingly, tags have become a lingua franca of Live Web, helping to categorize social media while also indicating where people’s attention might be at any given moment. But because each form of media is published from unique platforms with their own established communities, the audience found itself hopping from platform to platform to get a sense of what might be hot at any given moment. Which is why our social media aggregation service -- made manifest on our tagged media pages -- is growing at a torrid pace.

While we still have substantial reporting on the the State of the Blogosphere, we now expanding the report to provide information about the State of Tags. Admittedly, the information we have on this new area of focus for our report isn’t as deep or as expansive as our State of the Blogosphere, and we expect that over time, this and other new sections will expand, but we believe this is a good first step in trying to provide a more comprehensive snapshot of the Live Web.

OK, on to the numbers!

The State of the Blogosphere

The state of the Blogosphere is strong, and is maturing as an influential and important part of the web.

For nearly four years, we’ve been tracking and enabling the growth of this phenomenon and theirs is much in our data to indicate that the medium is “growing up.”

Slide0005

Technorati is now tracking over 70 million weblogs, and we're seeing about 120,000 new weblogs being created worldwide each day. That's about 1.4 blogs created every second of every day.

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Spam and splogs (spam blogs) continue to be a problem in the blogosphere, and there was a marked increase in splogs that coincided with the holiday season last year. Technorati has been tracking between 3,000 - 7,000 new splogs created each day, but there was a significant spike in splog creation during early December, when we tracked over 11,000 splogs created each day during December - a total of 341,000 splogs that we removed from our indexes during that period.

Fortunately, spam rates have decreased somewhat since then, as blog hosting providers have responded to the issue during the months of January and February. My personal take on the issue of spam is that all healthy ecosystems have parasites - the only question is whether or not the system is structurally vulnerable to being overwhelmed. Thankfully, because of the accountability that is built into the web itself (the URL structure is fundamentally accountable), I believe that while the vulnerability of the live web to spam is real, it is managable.

Slide0006

Since our last State of the Blogosphere report in October 2006, we’ve seen a slowing in the doubling of the size of the blogosphere. This shouldn't be surprising, as we're dealing with the law of large numbers - it takes a lot more growth to double from 35 million blogs to 70 million (which took about 320 days) than when it doubled from 5 million to 10 million blogs (which took about 180 days).

We also see a slowing in growth in the rate of posts created per day; while there are spikes in blog posts during times of significant world crisis -- for instance, last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hezbollah -- the overall trend is that posting volume is growing more slowly, at about 1.5 million postings per day. That's about 17 posts per second. In October 2006, Technorati was tracking about 1.3 million postings per day, about 15 posts per second.

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Popularity of Blogs vs. the MSM

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In previous reports, we looked at the popularity of mainstream media compared to blog sites. One interesting item to note in April 2007, the number of blogs in the top 100 most popular sites has risen substantially. During Q3 2006 there were only 12 blogs in the Top 100 most popular sites.

In Q4, however, there were 22 blogs on the list -- further evidence of the continuing maturation of the Blogosphere. Blogs continue to become more and more viable news and information outlets. For instance, information not shown in our data but revealed in our own user testing in Q1 2007 indicates that the audience is less and less likely to distinguish a blog from, say, nytimes.com -- for a growing base of users, these are all sites for news, information, entertainment, gossip, etc. and not a “blog” or a “MSM site”.

Further, there is a wider diversity of languages represented here, specifically Farsi with TodayLink.ir, Persian Blog Fans Club, and Giliran.com making the Top 100. More on that in a moment, as we discuss the international growth of the Blogosphere.

The Global Blogosphere

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In terms of blog posts by language, Japanese retakes the top spot from our last report, with 37% (up from 33%) of the posts followed closely by English at 36% (down from 39%). Additionally there was movement in the middle of the top 10 languages, highlighted by Italian overtaking Spanish for the number four spot.

The newcomer to the top 10 languages is Farsi, just joining the list at #10. It has been very interesting to watch the growth of the blogging world in the middle east, especially in countries like Iran, and it is reflected in the language distribution above.

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English, Japanese and Chinese look almost identical to our last report in their posting distribution. With Italian overtaking Spanish, we get to see another language with a different distribution, which contrast both the extreme geographic correlations of the Asian languages and the relative lack of geographic correlations of English. Again it would appear that both English and Spanish are more global languages based on consistency of posting through a 24 hour period, whereas other top languages, specifically Japanese, Chinese, and Italian, are more geographically correlated. It would also appear that a significant number of people who are blogging are doing it during work hours.

The State of Tags

The explosive growth that we see in the Technorati index is mirrored in social media sites throughout the Web, including Flickr, YouTube, and the like. This shared phenomenon allows us to marry the wealth of information in our index with the wealth of that stored on social media sites across the Live Web through the shared construct of tags.

For the uninitiated, a tag is a category or descriptor that someone (often the creator) assigns to it . This descriptor literally hangs off the media that’s published to the Web much in the same way a luggage tag hangs off your suitcase -- easily identifying the bag.

The bottom line: we’re seeing explosive growth in the tags index. People are clicking on tags, people are using tags, Google features tagged media in its results pages. Tags adoption has become a phenomenon across the Live Web, and we are seeing a correlative explosive growth at Technorati.

On to the numbers:

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Technorati is now tracking over 230 million posts using tags or categories, and the number of people who are using tags is growing:


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As of February 2007, About 35% of all posts Technorati tracks use tags.

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The number of bloggers that are using tags is also increasing month over month. About 2.5 million blogs posted at least one tagged post in February 2007.

Growth and Maturation

Back in 2002 when Technorati started tracking the blogosphere, social mores and community practices were still forming, and its growth was primarily through the written word. It was a fledgling medium that was initially reviled, then feared, and, now, embraced as mainstream.

The blogosphere started well before Technorati was founded, and its growth was fostered by many people and organizations that brought openness and cooperation to the medium. One of those people, Dave Winer, just celebrated the tenth anniversary of his weblog. Given this auspicious anniversary, I wanted to give my thanks and support to Dave and to all of the other early pioneers in the world of blogging, RSS, and the Live Web. Without Dave's efforts, the web wouldn't look the way it does today. His creation and support for systems like weblogs.com and open formats like RSS were critical in building the early infrastructure that Technorati relies upon and helps to support.

Thanks, Dave!

Wrapping it all Up

As a result of this work and the cultural mores of openness, we also have photo sharing, podcasting, online music publishing, online video publishing, user-generated games, and, increasingly, we have structured data-sharing such as upcoming events. All of this seething, lively activity constitutes the Live Web and Technorati is its hub -- thanks in large part to the growing use and ubiquity of tags. Through the social constructs of tags, we help people find unique voices and points of view. We also help social media publishers to find the people formerly known as their audience. And they all converge, as a result, on Technorati.

We’re proud of this position, of course, but also humbled by the responsibility it imposes.

As we continue to bring more and more of the Live Web to the fore, and to organize it and present it in ways that are useful, entertaining, and informative to you all, I hope you’ll continue to tell us your opinions (as if I could stop you!) and provide us your guidance. Our credo has been and will always remain: “Be of Service.” Your voice helps us to do this, so please continue to tell us what we can do better.

In summary:

  • 70 million weblogs
  • About 120,000 new weblogs each day, or...
  • 1.4 new blogs every second
  • 3000-7000 new splogs (fake, or spam blogs) created every day
  • Peak of 11,000 splogs per day last December
  • 1.5 million posts per day, or...
  • 17 posts per second
  • Growing from 35 to 75 million blogs took 320 days
  • 22 blogs among the top 100 blogs among the top 100 sources linked to in Q4 2006 - up from 12 in the prior quarter
  • Japanese the #1 blogging language at 37%
  • English second at 33%
  • Chinese third at 8%
  • Italian fourth at 3%
  • Farsi a newcomer in the top 10 at 1%
  • English the most even in postings around-the-clock
  • Tracking 230 million posts with tags or categories
  • 35% of all February 2007 posts used tags
  • 2.5 million blogs posted at least one tagged post in February

Getting All the Reports

You can get all of the State of the Blogosphere and State of the Live Web reports, going back my first report in October 2004 at http://www.sifry.com/stateoftheliveweb/ All of this material is licensed under a creative commons for-attribution license, and all I ask in addition is that you please keep the Technorati logo and links to the original reports in any use of the charts or data.

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April 3, 2007

The State of Technorati, April 2007

I typically issue the State of the Blogosphere report each quarter to give a glimpse into our data and what that may tell us about the global social media phenomenon. As many of you have pointed out, it's been nearly six months since the last report. Yow!

Don't worry, it hasn't gone away, although there are some changes in store for the widely read report. More on that at the end of this post, including some nice charts, so read on...

It's been awhile since I've given you a report on the State of Technorati. Many people still think of us as the world's leading blog search company I founded nearly four years ago (yeah, we will hit our 4 year corporate anniversary in May). While that statement is still true, it is only part of our story today. Technorati is now very much a media company - one that is unlike any other you've seen to be sure, but a media company nonetheless. What we bring to the fore is social media - the ways in which people are expressing themselves across the Web each and every day, in real-time. It's informative, entertaining, vexing, touching, enervating and, every once in awhile, utterly unforgettable. It is, truly, the Live Web.

Let me begin by saying the people we serve and their behaviors on our site have shifted remarkably in recent months. In brief, we've seen phenomenal growth in the use of our tagged media pages. As the use of tags becomes more ubiquitous across all forms of social media and the publishing platforms that support them, they've become the lingua franca of the Live Web - the way in which people all over the world indicate what topics or issues are top of mind and guiding self-expression.

About nine months ago, we began to see a marked increase in the use of those tagged media pages, which back then simply included blog posts and Flickr photos using tags. So, throughout the fall and into December, we introduced a number of improvements and new features to our media pages, including the introduction of a huge range of multiple forms of user-generated content. Today, we include blog posts, photos, videos, podcasts, music, people, and events that share a common tag to give our visitors a view into who's saying what - who's doing what - across the Live Web, all in real time.

The Numbers

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We've seen huge growth in the number of unique visitors to our site. In March, we exceeded 9 million unique visitors, which is a 141% increase in monthly visitors in a single quarter. Moreover, our quarter-over-quarter growth in page views was about 150% at the close of March (23% Growth in January, 24% Growth in February, 53% Growth in March). As I indicated a moment ago, the majority of our page views now are no longer just in real-time keyword or blog search, as would have been the case just six months ago, but also in our tagged media pages.

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Nevertheless, I'm also very pleased to note that Technorati is still the most visited blog search engine according to recent reports by Hitwise:

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Quantcast adds more recent third-party data validating our growing lead as well:

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And our Vice President of Engineering, Adam Hertz, has been hard at work leading initiatives to ensure that our results are more complete, spam-free, and delivered more quickly than any other service on the Web. We're not perfect - we're always looking to get better, but I'm heartened by the progress we've made over the last six months or so.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has published a comparison of Technorati to Google Blog Search, and he's asking for people's experiences. In his post, he notes that "It does look like Technorati has pulled ahead again in this race. The UI on Technorati is certainly ahead of Google’s, especially with the little chart of how many mentions a term has gotten." He is also asking people to help him evaluate the two engines.

Another great point of pride for me has been the introduction of new features like WTF (which stands for Where's the Fire), that empowers users to explain why any given top search or tag is hot right now, and others the power to vote on their favorite WTFs. Since we launched WTF earlier this year, we've continued to make enhancements to the service, which I hope you've noticed, like our new email-to-a-friend option for when you want to share your favorite WTFs with friends and family (and get them to vote for you, which puts your WTF at the top of search results). Over 2,000 people have created WTFs, and they've written over 8,000 blurbs, and those numbers are growing quickly!

We've been launching widgets too - building a whole new framework for them to be scalable from the get-go, and tonight Tantek announced the first three widgets in that class: Top Searches, Top Tags, and Technorati Authority.

What has made this phenomenal growth possible, of course, is the terrific team at work here at Technorati, which has also grown remarkably. Today we are 44 people working from our offices in San Francisco and New York, there's another team of about 10 people working on our sister site Technorati Japan; this time last year we were less than half that size. Our structure has changed as well: we've been at work building a sales and marketing function to meet increasing demand from brands and advertisers around how it is they, too, can enter the global conversation. Again, this time last year, we barely had display ad units on our site, much less sales people to fill those units. This new group is hard at work introducing our solutions in New York and on the West Coast, and, as we announced earlier in the quarter, includes a new partnership with one of the world's largest advertising and marketing firms, Ogilvy.

So, finally, to the State of the Blogosphere. We're still committed to this landmark report, but, as I indicated at the beginning of this post, we've evolved it. Later this week, we'll release our new "State of the Live Web", which will include our usual State of the Blogosphere report, but will now also include additional information on areas outside of just blogs. As we continue to build out this report in coming quarters, we'll do our best to continually add new information - on video, on microformats, and more. Just as Technorati is increasingly the hub of the Live Web, our quarterly report will be as embracing of the entirely of it as our service is.

Look for our new State of the Live Web on this blog by the end of the week and let me know what you think. My hope is that it is helpful to you.

As always, our credo remains to "Be of Service" - my hope is that we're delivering on that promise better today than ever, and that this time next year it will be still more true than ever before.

UPDATE: Jay Meattle from compete.com has a very interesting post called "Technorati breaking away, leaving Google behind in the dust". There's some great data in there, here's a bit:

 Site Media Upl Img Technorati Uvs Mar2007

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