Today Technorati, one of the leading blog search engines along with Google Blog Search and Bloglines/Ask.com, launched a re-design. I chatted with new Technorati CEO Richard Jalichandra today about it. He noted that the new design is about "going back to our roots" as a site for bloggers - but he also told me it's about creating a "media look and feel" that will appeal to advertisers. The main new features are a revamped 'news aggregator' UI and a new resource page for bloggers.

Of most interest to me was the "Percolator" - a.k.a. the new frontpage news aggregation. In a blog post, Percolator architect Ian Kallen described it like this:

"The Technorati Percolator combs the sea of posts and other media flowing through our systems to find the ones that are emerging as significant at any given time. Finding the needles in a fast-moving haystack and organizing them into topical groupings isn't easy. Items in the Percolator are sampled from our update stream, primarily ranked by the age of the item, the authority of its source, the authority of the referring blogs and the density of recent links to it. We found that by taking all of these factors into account, an effective algorithmic filter and magnifier emerges. A lot of great applications have already appeared on the landscape that try to solve this kind of problem. From what we can tell, those applications started with a small corpus of blogs and grew their coverage from there. Technorati has come at the problem from the perspective of starting with broad coverage, sampling it and winnowing it down to the good conversations. Of course, if you want to explore the social connectivity, Technorati's search systems are there to help."

It's fairly obvious that Techmeme was an influence in the new UI, along with sites like Topix and the new NY Times Tech frontpage. But Jalichandra told me there were many other influences too - plus user feedback. Nevertheless we can see that Technorati now wants to be some kind of news aggregator; and overall it's a sensible move, given that many professional blogs these days are media operations. Allen Stern has a video overview, along with a number of concerns about the "confusing" UI -- all are valid points.

So would you use Technorati now as a news aggregator that you visit daily? Many RWW readers probably use Techmeme for that purpose already (I know I am a Techmeme addict, and I'm not afraid to admit it!). But the new Technorati doesn't appear to have that same 'stickiness', to use an old school Web term. The results I see on the Technorati Tech page seem almost random to me - for example there is a story currently on the page entitled "Orcs & Elves". The next story down is "KILLSWITCH ENGAGE: New Audio Interview With HOWARD JONES Posted Online". Neither were 'sponge worthy' (i.e. worthy of a click) for me as a geek wanting to know the latest tech news.

So right now, the Percolator isn't something I feel compelled to come back to multiple times a day, like I do with Techmeme. It doesn't give you the sense that it's really "what's happening" in the tech blogging and/or news world.

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Photo: Lockwasher