As usual, the first place I try is their About Us. For such a popularly quoted resource, I guess I expected some concrete information as to their mission, purpose, resources, etc. They do present a resounding statistic:
Currently tracking 97.7 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. Technorati is the recognized authority on what's happening on the World Live Web, right now.
But why is it the recognized authority? What exactly do they do? Once I reread their About Us, this popped out at me:
On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.So what exactly are they tracking? At first I thought they meant that when I reference Meredith Farkas or David Silver, Technorati keeps track of it. Not exactly. Looking again at their homepage, I started to see that they are just creating an indexed blogosphere. From the looks of their tag cloud, there seems to be more references to what is written about (You Tube, famous folks, politics, etc) than to whom is referenced. But then again, you can search for people or blogs and find out when they have been mentioned, referenced, linked to. I searched for Meredith and saw people's posts referencing her blog. I searched for my own blog and found myself referenced even.
Wow...sit back and take that in. Better yet, try it. It's astounding.
I have no doubt that there a multitude of way to use Technorati, as a blogger, as an interested web user, as a person. But as a librarian, I immediately think about all the times students want to use public opinion to start out a paper. For example, when their research papers start out with, "People say that..." What if we gave them Technorati? Instead of "people say," they could try "According to Technorati, there are 18,658 blogs posts related to Second Life and Higher Education," to qualify people saying? Good idea? Bad idea? I'm not sure yet...but I will think about it and share those thoughts with you.
One last thing I noticed, Technorati picked up an amazing number of MySpace blog posts. Hmmm.