Some examples of realtime search

By March 6, 2009Google, Search, Twitter

Marksonland has post up entitled Twitter Ain’t Search.  For the record I think that he misunderstands the purpose of Twitter search.  As Mark says if Twitter search was just a way to consume Tweets it would be pretty pointless – but as a way to find out what the world is thinking by mining the river of Tweets I think it has a lot of value.

This is a point is made by Skolor in the comments: isn’t used to find tweets/twitterers. Its to find information. You don’t (often) use Google to find a specific page. Its general use is to find information. The same with Twitter Search. Its used to find information, and the people who are tweeting don’t matter after that is found.

My point in writing this post is to reproduce some examples of realtime Twiter search that were left in the comments to Mark’s post.

Firstly, also from Skolor:

Earlier today my GMail contacts bar was messed up. It was showing “whatever” instead of having people there. So, since I wanted to find out first if this was a service outage or if it was just a rendering problem. So I loaded up search.twitter, typed in Gmail. Nothing about it came up, so I knew it wasn’t a service outage.

and secondly from Giles Bowkett:

Twitter search example: there were helicopters circling above my house. I searched Twitter for “helicopter” and “Silverlake” (my neighborhood) and found out why instantly. Another example: I heard there had been a quake in Southern California, but I live in SoCal and hadn’t experienced any such thing. I searched Twitter for “quake” and found out, instantly, that it had been a 2.2 or so in Orange County. Google can’t do that. Twitter gets a built-in timeliness search constraint that Google just doesn’t have.

UPDATE: This excerpt from Techcrunch throws some light on the other side of the equation – how and why the valuable data that can be mined gets into Twitter in the first place:

Twitter also gathers other information, like people’s experiences with products and services as they interact with them. A couple of months ago, for example, I was stuck in the airport and received extremely poor service from Lufthansa. I twittered my displeasure, which made me feel better – at least I was doing something besides wait in an endless line. I’ve also Twittered complaints about the W Hotel (no Internet, cold room) and Comcast (the usual Internet gripes).

UPDATE 2:  Twitter has begun rolling out search and trends on user profiles

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  • I am a lot more strategic with Twitter search

    I mainly use it when I know there is a large internet marketing conference going on, or occasionally something like FOWA in Miami.
    I search on the hashtag for the event to see who is tweeting about it first hand.

    In the case of internet marketing conferences, sure in information is sometimes useful, but I gain 3 very useful and specific pieces of information I couldn't get anywhere else.

    1. What excites the audience – the soudbites they tweet are valuable for anyone looking to sell into the niche
    2. Players with money – conference attendees who pay out $3000 for a few days, +hotel and travel are a profitable demographic to target
    3. People with lists to build relationships with

    Hashtag searches can be applied to almost any niche, though with twitter currently the primary users are early tech adopters and marketers.

    p.s. You need a different Adsense block in the sidebar as that one is hidden by the CSS.

  • Thanks Andy

  • Nic,

    Nice post. I agree that there need to be a lot more concrete examples of real time search before people “get it.”

    one here

  • Hey Nic & Brett,

    I think you will find the video use case illustrative…what people are watching right now is valuable and complementary different than what YouTube search offers.

  • Hey Nic & Brett,

    I think you will find the video use case illustrative…what people are watching right now is valuable and complementary different than what YouTube search offers.