Technorati just release an update on their blog search results. At first the update is very underwhelming. Not the stuff of hero worship. But below the surface there is real brilliance because the improvements were done iteratively and intelligently. Quote:
These changes came after weeks of user feedback studies, learning by watching users and what they wanted and did on the site, and lots of tuning and tweaking of the infrastructure. We’re looking for your feedback and comments on the changes! Did we do a good job? Are things easier to use? Is your favorite vanity search more understandable? Does it have more data? What else do you want?
Emphasis added by me: user feedback, watching users, wanted, did, tuning, tweaking – these are beautiful words in the world of social software.
The danger of designing software applications is the assumption that because I (the individual) think this way, so does the group. What this logic overlooks is that individuals can make rational decisions that lead to an irrational result. Game theory and collective action have long documented this unexpected property of collective human behavior.
Regardless, hats off to Technorati for not just doing what the customers asked, but for deeply understanding social behavior (vanity searches for example) and still using that information to improve.