My buddy Dave Sifry over at Technorati has launched v3 of Technorati, commemorating their three years as a company and as the interweb’s reigning whuffie tracker. However, the changes as I see them so far seem to represent a shift away from the Matrix-green-loving blog divas and digerati that have made Technorati their shrine towards a wider, and perchance less discerning, audience:
While we love expert bloggers, we’ve also spent a lot of time making Technorati understandable to normal people.
As long as normal doesn’t mean “mediocre” or “average” I guess I can see a need for this change — but my feeling already is that the new design is too Friendster-cum-MySpace than the good ol’ Technorati greenback of yore. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been anticipating this redesign for some time — my concern though is: did they identify their audience correctly? …or am I feeling a bit snubbed because I’m not part of a presumably profitable demographic (profitable for advertisers that is)?
To be more positive (since I’m trying to make an effort lately!): the things that I am excited about in this milestone are taking place either behind the scenes or will only show value over time. For example, getting more accurate link counts and stats (which lately have varied between Technorati Mobile and the main site)… Consider the expanded popular page (whose URL should really be renamed to /popular)… or take a look at your personal page — certainly a lot more cluttered and riddled with things of little use to me personally, but at the same time showing the promise for someday becoming my electrocardiograph on the web. Oh, and the Favorites feature is an interesting not-too-del.icio.us-like addition that unfortunately doesn’t do anything better than NetNewsWire, Flock, Bloglines or others already do (popups?!) — so why not just integrate with those and offer me a remote view of feeds in context? (Especially since NetNewsWire syncs with NewsGator and has an open API that would make this process fairly trivial).
But Dave et al — here’s my plea and my challenge to you: in your efforts to grow your business and maintain your position as top of mind for what’s going on in the blogosphere, don’t forsake those who have championed you for so long in exchange for what looks like an opportunity to go massive. The long tail is chunky and has a richness that Technorati can help us all make sense of. In that way, Technorati should endeavor to become (hold your groans) the Flickr of Blogs — in the truest sense. When I come to Technorati, I don’t want only what’s popular, I want what’s good. And sure, “good” is in the eye of the beholder but frankly, if you take my earlier suggestion, then you’ve already got the data that you need to help me understand just what is good and relevant to me, rather than a broad swath of what’s out there and being linked to.
So Dave, think about it this way: when I come to Technorati as a blogger and as a registered user, I want Technorati to reorient and rebuild itself around me at the center. And I’ll tell you, every other blogger feels the same way. For the longest time, this is what Technorati offered to the world. Forgive us for being self-absorbed and echoic, but blogging works when you know who’s talking about and to you, so that you can respond — and as our ears to the ground, you offer an essential piece of the conversation toolset. Essentially, you provided me an inbox for my blog and for my second ego. I hope that, in orienting towards “normal people”, you don’t end up diminish what it is that puts the rati in Technorati.