I written here before about Technorati. I’ve come to realize though, that outside of the narrow confines of technically-minded weblog people, the general web public might not be aware that Technorati can be a very powerful tool. Indeed I’ve only just discovered this myself recently.
So what is Technorati?
Perhaps the easiest way to understand it is as a sort of “Google for weblogs.”
Of course Google indexes weblogs, so you can use Google to search weblogs too. But Google also indexes porn, chemistry theses, and the weather in Istanbul. Technorati only indexes weblogs, and so its value as a search engine is that it allows you to limit your search only to “the blogosphere.”
Here’s an example of why this can be useful. Here’s a Google search for ljubljana hotel. Now, here’s a Technorati search for the same thing. The Google search returns “about 329,000” hits, the Technorati one returns 37.
On the surface, you might think this means Google is “better” because it returns more information. And certainly in those 300,000+ links are hundreds of hotel discounters, hotel website, travel websites, travel guides. But how about a personal opinion written by someone who has stayed in a hotel in Ljubljana? That’s where Technorati can be a useful supplementary search tool.
Technorati isn’t a Google replacement, of course; it’s simply a way to drill through the web straight to personal writing. And sometimes that’s exactly the take you want on something.
Where Technorati gets really interesting is that you can turn any Technorati search into a sort of “custom weblog” by creating something called a “Watchlist.” This is a feature of Technorati that’s not immediately obvious because it’s only available to members of Techorati. Membership is free, however, and available instantly (and, in my experience, does not result in any sort of spam flood).
Once you’re a member, every time you search Technorati you’ll see a “Make this a Watchlist” link. Click on the link, and Technorati gives you a URL that you can then feed to your favourite RSS newsreader; the feed contains a constantly-updated set of posts that watch your search.
Here’s a Watchlist for a search for ljubljana. And here’s how it looks in my newsreader:
Once you get your head around what’s happening here — a sort of arbitrary “blog of blogs” based on keywords — this is a really, really neat feature of Technorati.