Last night Technorati launched a significant site re-design, moving away from its routes as a blog search engine, into one that places much more emphasis on the social web as a whole. Instead of making blogs the default, search results now claim to show "everything in the known universe about...", and offer tabs for posts, blogs, videos, photos, music, and events.
Writing on the official Technorati blog, CEO and founder, Dave Sifry, explained the thinking behind the changes:
The world has changed. Whereas folks using Technorati a couple of years ago were predominantly coming to us to search the blogosphere to surface the conversations that were most interesting to them, today they are increasingly coming to our site to get the 360 degree context of the Live Web - blogs of course, but also user-generated video, photos, podcasts, music, games and more.
In a changing world where personal publishing and tagging is everywhere, Technorati is hoping to establish itself as the choice destination for searching the 'live' social web, which these days means far more than blogging. The change of emphasis reminds me of something Marc Canter told me back in late 2004: many more people will write reviews, or publish other types of micro-data (such as photos, events etc), than are ever likely to blog. Now the tools exist which significantly lower the barriers to participating in social media, and Technorati has recognized this. Even if the 90:9:1 rule of user participation in the social web is true (where 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action), it's not like all of the people don't want to be able to search from all of the content, even if most of it is contributed by a small percentage. Having said that, I still think the site's name stinks. It just sounds far too elitist to appeal to that 90% of 'lurkers'. It may have worked in the beginning for the vanity search obsessed egos of us bloggers, but it doesn't really compute when trying to go mainstream.
From a business point of view, Mike Arrington (of TechCrunch) considers two possible reasons for the changes:
It may be an acknowledgment that they can’t beat Google Blogsearch over the long run, or it may be a strategy to go after a larger potential market for time sensitive content. Or both.
I think it's very much the latter. However, to succeed, one thing they'll need to improve on is speed and uptime. Something that Sifry acknowledges:
We're going to continue to work on performance, making things faster and more stable. Every now and then searches still fail for our users or take too long to respond, and that's a top priority for our backend team to fix.
Related post: WTF is Technorati up to?