Technorati, the comically inept search engine, has redesigned itself again - knocking itself out in the process.
The site was down when bloggers checked in yesterday.
More importantly, the latest redesign is a tacit admission that it's given up on its original mission - indexing the world's weblogs. Technorati now claims to present "zillions of photos, videos, blogs and more", and rather apologetically adds the rejoinder: "Some of them have to be good."
In practice, Technorati now returns only a tiny number of blogs - and prefers to offer thumbnails of digital images already tagged with a keyword. A technical challenge that does not exactly require the algorithmic prowess of a Donald Knuth.
So what was always a lousy blog search tool is now little more than a lousy image search tool - this is not going to worry Yahoo! or Google.
Call it a strategic retreat. The site has fought heroically to stem the Rise of the Machines, exemplified by tools like this, but lost. Who would have guessed?
Well, not the journalist pals of founder Dave Sifry, and A-list bloggers who gave Technorati oodles of back-scratching press when it launched in 2003. Hacks were as keen as Sifry to evangelise blogging, and instantly conferred guru status on him; here was a man with the numbers that mattered! Reports were invariably too kind to mention that Technorati rarely worked well, and often didn't work at all.
The moral of the story is hard to miss. Maybe ideological evangelism and engineering don't really mix. Evangelism and honest reporting certainly don't. ®