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Over the past couple of weeks the chatter about search functionality with regards to Twitter has come up again so I thought it might make sense to take a look back at how search has evolved with this exploding worldwide platform.
The Early Days
While most of Twitter’s users today weren’t around in the early days, many of you were. These were the days of the whale of fail, the rat in your pc and the general fun. Back then, there was no search function. If you wanted to know what your friend had for lunch or if your friend’s cat made a #2 on your friend’s carpet, you had to go to the account for your friend or his/her cat and just page back and forth. It was a tough time.
Then, like cream cheese on a fresh bagel, here comes NY-based Summize. Now we are talking! (well searching). Summize allowed us to search in near real-time for our friend’s messages. Want to know if that really was an earthquake? Pop “earthquake” into Summize. It was a real pleasure. Soon after the search engine was acquired by Twitter and renamed to Twitter Search and it still lives today. Twit messages are ranked by last posted in the results and there is no weighting to the results. The search functionality is also available within the Twitter site itself on the right side of a profile page.
Late last year during the “made up fights” between several valley bloggers and entrepreneurs, a discussion arose about creating an awesome Twitter search engine that would rank search results based on who has more followers. This was awesome…users who have lots of followers would appear higher in search. Bloody brilliant concept! Surely there would be no way to game the system to get more followers, right? Well, six months later and the rank by followers chatter has died out.
Note: somewhere in here Twitter introduced the Default List – this is the list that pumps certain celebs, FOT, fluffers, people who deliver cupcakes to twitter hq, etc.
Continue reading “A Historical Look at Search Functionality on Twitter and a Bonus: What’s Next” »
So the hot story in the tech blogo’ this evening is that Twitter is acquiring Summize. First of all, who cares. ReadWriteWeb notes that either Jason Chandler or Jason Calacanis "broke" the news. My money is on Jason.
Mike Arrington says that Summize has raised $750k and Twitter over $20 million. He also says he deal "certainly makes sense". While it seems like it does on the surface, I am not sure I agree. It would absolutely be a quick fix for a search function and a replies tab on Twitter, sure. Past that, not so much. Do mainstream users really care about search on Twitter? The replies tab yes, that’s a critical Twitter element.
When Summize presented at the NY Tech meetup (video embedded below), they spoke about very large aspirations to track the real-time conversational Web, not just Twitter. If Twitter acquires the service, that goes bye-bye.
For example, is Summize built on the same platform and language as Twitter is? What would the integration time and cost look like? Would it be quicker to use the money to build their own already integrated into their codebase and to their specs? If they acquiring Summize for their technical talent, that’s a different story. Outside of that possibility, what would Twitter gain strategically?
I’d vote partnership as I did on an earlier post. A full Summize acquisition seems like it would be just to please the tech blogosphere and give Twitter a pinch of goodwill.
Summize presented a demo of their conversational search engine last night at the NY Tech Meetup. They also announced the launch of local search. The local search allows you to select a location (i.e. New York, Berlin, etc.) and a distance (i.e. 10 miles) and Summize will present only the conversations related to your search in that location.
The conversational search works with Twitter and can also provide an on-the-fly translation service so you can check out the latest conversations in other countries (like the China earthquake).
One note, the majority of conversations between friends still occurs on private services including AIM, Google Chat, Skype, etc. These services are not indexed by Summize.
Lastly, Summize offers an API which many of the most popular Twitter applications are using.