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20071204 Tuesday December 04, 2007

Percolation in the Blogosphere

I've worked on a number of different web service and enterprise software products before but never gave one its external name until today. Our release of the Technorati Percolator is the culmination of months of work to harness the vast flow of raw data coming through Technorati to distill a palatable data volume and it's named for the internal moniker I'd been using for it during its development (after all, names with "buzz" and "meme" in them just wouldn't do). While you're looking around at the things we've cooked up in the percolator, make sure you also check out rising links of the day on Blogger Central and today in photos. Today we released them and I mentioned a bit about what goes into them on the Technorati blog. What I didn't elaborate on is what this release means to me on a personal level.

I originally came to Technorati in 2004 after a conversation with Dave fired up my creative sparks about the blogosphere. He had all of these rich conceptualizations about the technology changes in our midst, the social significance of decentralized events, the basic human drives that motivates them, the power of the long tail and the peculiar phenomenon that when you work in the service of others you reap the rewards manifold. I knew I had to work with him to build the ultimate air-traffic-control radar, real time search and meta-CMS systems. The 2004 political season provided an opportunity to work on those problems; the zeitgeist applications that we built to work with CNN's election coverage were thrilling accomplishments.

Since then, Technorati has undergone tremendous growth (regularly chronicled in Dave's "State of the Blogosphere" posts) on the foundation of a search vertical that had no precedent: the real time search of distributed micropublisheds sources. A number of technology changes were necessitated to scale us up; those changes have been likened to rebuilding your jet aircraft's engines at 40,000 feet. A lot has happened since 2004 (the growing pains have been regularly chronicled by the blogosphere) but until now, few of our outward facing accomplishments have excited me as much as the percolator.

There a lot of great sites out there using votes, comments, ratings and other explicit actions that are taken as representative of social gestures. There are also a lot of great sites that use implicit social gestures such as links to identify significant publishes, these are much closer to Technorati's heart. However, our aspirations are to look further along the long tail than most of these other sites can. Bloggers have said they want to see more than "all of the usual suspects", in an October 2007 post, ParisLemon said he wanted

a 'backpage' of sorts where some of us "B-listers" who are on ... everyday under the headlines, could have a chance to have some of our other tech stories showcased

Everyday the percolator is surfacing thousands of things that the blogosphere is talking about; blog posts, news stories and other stuff. It's true, the "A-list" percolates more posts and they bubble up higher; this is basic social software physics and classic power law stuff. But we have put a stake in the ground; we're going to serve bloggers across the power curve spectrum who are producing quality posts and acquiring attention from other bloggers as well as identify where the other attention magnets are by enabling an application that highlights them. When you walk into a crowded party and there are a myriad of conversations going on, you want to find the conversations that are pertinent to your interests and who the thought leaders are in those conversations. For me, today's release marks a new beginning of Technorati playing the role of connector and catalyzer. I hope you enjoy it!


( Dec 04 2007, 11:45:40 PM PST ) Permalink