I was very excited when I first heard about Technorati’s new Tags feature. The concept is to use “tags” in blog postings as an unstructured categorization schema. The benefit is that now blog postings can be browsed by content area, rather than only by keyword searching.
In general, I think tags are fantastic. I always struggle with folder-based categorization schemas, forgetting where I put things, making arbitrary judgments on where to put files, setting up logically-inconsistent hierarchies. etc. Does an excel sheet on financial results of a video project go into my “Video” folder or my “Finance” folder? This just doesn’t work long-term.
Anyway, the idea that I could take a tag like ‘New York City’ and see all the blogs on that subject is pretty cool. I was particularly interested in adding the feed into EverythingNY so I could expand the coverage of the headlines feature to blogs that were not in my list because they were not entirely NY-focused. So imagine my surprise to find that tags do not seem to have their own RSS feeds! If you want to use the tag feature (as a reader, not author), you need to go to the Technorati website, the old-fashioned way.
So, giving Technorati the benefit of the doubt, this will probably become a members-only benefit shortly. The site has had well-known stability and performance problems, so adding a free meta-RSS feed system that would query across all the databases would probably be painful to support.
However, I can’t imagine that long-term they plan on supporting all these tag-based pages without advertising. These pages are search-engine magnets — changing often and dense with text-rich keywords. My bet is that we’ll see tag pages come up near the top of many Google search results shortly, and that the increased traffic will be followed by Google ads monetizing the server load. Of course, this type of marketing arbitrage is exactly why others (myself included) would want the feeds for their own sites.