Having Henry Ford as your Mechanic

I spent most of last Monday and Tuesday perched high in the Fleet Center about 10 feet from David Sifry’s command post. So I had a front-row seat to David’s CNN blog-wrangling duties.

And I also got to see what a couple of days in the life of trying to keep Technorati alive is like (from the sheer volume of flurriful instant messaging flowing from David’s PC, it looks like it’s a considerable chore).

Which makes this post from Adam Greenfield about Technorati (along with this followup) all the more interesting.

Last week, courtesy of CNN, Technorati had a televised coming out party. Problem was, if my own usage is a gauge, it wasn’t working more than it was. At a time when we vain convention bloggers were relying on it as a measurer of our linkfulness, profiles were coming up “no such user,” and searches were coming up with no (or wildly inconsistent) results.

David was obviously aware of all this — there were several times I heard a live shout-out from the bloggerati like “Hey, David, is Technorati down?” only to hear a response a few minutes later “Things should be okay now.” It was kind of neat to watch the process up close like that. And it certainly made me prone to being more forgiving for Technorati’s shortcomings.

Things seem to be on a more even keel now (and don’t get me wrong: Technorati, when it’s working, is a fantastic service). But last week’s experiences do prompt me to consider how much these new worlds we’re experimenting with rely on fragile, under-resourced, centralized infrastructure. While there are good alternatives to Technorati (like Feedster and Bloglines), we’re still relying on bottleneck-prone centralization rather than more robust, decentralized technologies. Maybe this is inevitable, I’m not sure.

I’m pretty sure if Google went down for a week, my personal productivity would suffer enormously. In fact it might be impossible to get any work done. What happens when I come to rely on services like Technorati to the same degree?


David Sifry's picture
David Sifry on August 5, 2004 - 13:58 Permalink

Thanks. It was an amazing, raucus, energizing time. And we’re working 110% to deal with the issues and make the Technorati experience always fast, responsive, and the best resource in the world to find out who’s talking, what’s being said, and why…