Technorati: A New Public Utility

Monty Solomon monty at
Fri Jul 15 12:35:27 PDT 2005

Technorati: A New Public Utility

By Adam L. Penenberg
02:00 AM Jul. 14, 2005 PT

  When former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael K.
Powell watched television coverage of the London bombings last week,
he noticed that most of the significant pictures didn't originate
from professional photographers employed by news agencies. They came
from witnesses at the scene using cell phones and digital cameras to
document the tragedy.

  "Journalists are trained not to be emotional, like a doctor doesn't
fall in love with his patients," Powell said. "But people
experiencing a tragedy can convey what actually happened while at the
same time express deep emotion and engage in spirited storytelling. A
photo of someone climbing up through train wreckage is extremely
powerful. A reporter rolling up to the scene behind a police line can
rarely give you that."

  Before, blogging was largely fixated on the failure of mainstream
media. Now it has become a necessary supplement, and in some cases, a
substitute. But Powell takes this a step further. To him, London
showed that blogging has morphed into the art of raw, personalized

  "You really felt as if you were there," Powell said of the blog
posts and Flickr photos he surveyed, "as opposed to watching CNN or
reading, which are fine for the facts but stale and a bit

  Powell was far from the only one who turned to the blogosphere for
perspectives on the London terror attacks. David Sifry, founder of
Technorati, a real-time search engine for blog content, reports that
traffic to the site in the hours after the attacks was so heavy that
its servers had trouble handling the load, causing performance

  The number of posts on blogs tracked by Technorati increased 30
percent, from about 850,000 a day in July to 1.2 million on the day
of the attacks. Nine of the 10 most popular search requests involved
the unfolding tragedy in London.

  If you think about it, Technorati has become a public utility on a
global scale.


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