Wakeup call for Technorati/Feedburner
I only recently got into the whole blogging lark. Although I've been knowlegable in the ways of HTML almost as long as I've been using the web (it all came along when I had mountains of spare time at university), I had to learn a whole load of new technology and 'customs' when I relaised that the best way to bring my website alive was to use blogging.
Because I read some prominent blogs written by people who blog more about blogging than anything else, I'm aware of a few sites that provide value added services to bloggers. One of them Technorati and another is Feedburner (other's I haven't delved into are del.ici.ous and memorandum).
Lets start with Technorati. As far as I can tell, this is mostly a search-engine for blogs. Rather than rely entirely on body text though, it allows you to provide extra information about both the blog itself and individual posts in the form of Tags. Tags are just words or short phrases really. There is no moderation or control on the use of tags either. There is nothing other than the cleverness of Technorati's search algorithms to stop you "tag stuffing" the same way people practiced "meta keyword stuffing" before Google came along and made it redundent. I'm not sure how much future there is in tagging, not just on Technorati, but also on Flickr, del.ici.ous or anywhere else. It seems to work well now because there are not so many users and those that are tagging are enthusiasts rather than lowlife search-optimizers.
The other service I wanted to mention is Feedburner. I hear it talked about a lot, possibly because I read Brad Feld's blog (he's a VC that's invested in Feedburner). The problem with Feedburner is working out what it does, or more to the point, how it does it. Their publishers page gives a list of services, some of which sound very useful (mostly the reader count), others I'm not so sure about. A lot of them didn't have explanations when I last looked but I note that most of them have an explanatory page now. Unfortunately most of the pages are written in the same talking to a suit who thinks they understand computers language as their About page (the "elevator pitch"). It talks about the serives they provide in only the vaguest terms before spilling the kind of information that only venture capitalists give a toss about - the names of the management team.
How about telling me how I'm going to implement all these wonderful services? I've thought about it long enough to realise that they probably have to slurp your RSS feed and then modify it and serve it from their own servers in order to do the things they claim. The problem with this is that I have to modify my blog code in order to point potential subscribers to Feedburner's copy of my feeds. Then if I stop using Feedburner, or god forbid, they fail to get further funding and cease operation, I lose all those subscribers. Plus all the subscribers I might currently have will need to somehow get shifted onto Feedburner's servers or they miss out of the FeedFlare and I mess out on the stats anaylsis. The thing is, this might not be the case, but I don't know because the only way for me to find out at present is to sign up for a Feedburner account and then read the implementation instructions. So I haven't bothered yet.