Twitting Ain’t Search and Google Used to Suck

March 6, 2009

I am an addled goose, an OLD addled goose. I liked some of the points in “Twitter Ain’t Search” but I had some qualms about accepting the assertion that Twitter is not search. You must read the article here. For me the most interesting comment in the write up was:

I kind of view Twitter as dead simple blog platform for the masses (hence the adoption of it by the masses). Blog platforms like the one for this blog (Movable Type) can be complicated – especially for the mainstream folks who don’t know/ want to learn html commands.

My view is that Twitter is indeed micro blogging. But the significance of Twitter is in the information flows and the access thereto. Here’s why:

I have learned that electronic information generates enough paradoxes to give Epimenides a headache. Example: online information gave way to CD ROMs. The commercial online giants said, “CDs suck. Too small.” Yep, CDs then changed some unexpected sectors of the information industry and this was in the 1983 to 1985 time period. Then Lycos came along and people said, “Lycos sucks. No updates.” came along, figured out the update thing and HP said, “ sucks.” So came online. Some people said, “Google sucks. It’s not a portal.” On and on.

Twitter is an example of the type of information opportunity that occurs when a sufficient number of users generate information flows. Who cares whether an individual Twitter message is “right” or “wrong”? Who cares if Twitter crashes and burns or whether it is bought by Verizon and turned into a subscriber only service. The US is not where the action is in information flows in case you haven’t heard.

Twitter is important because it represents a model of what one or more companies can use as an example. Google cracked Web search, but the real time SMS flows are new territory, and if you don’t understand that where information flows, money exists. Quick example: you are a law enforcement professional. You are dealing with a person of interest aged 17 in Rio de Janeiro. The person of interest coordinates a group of eight to 10 year olds. The “pack of kids” distracts a tourist, probably a complacent American pundit. Whilst engaged, the kids take the passport, billfold, and camera and scamper off. The whole deal is organized by text messages sent on disposable mobile phones thoughtfully provided by the person of interest. A system that permits searching of these SMS messages or Tweets in Twitter speak * could * be helpful to law enforcement. The messages could be baloney. But a search takes a short amount of time. If useful info0rmation becomes available, that’s a plus. If none becomes available, the law enforcement professional has learned something useful about the person of interest. I am sure one can think of other examples of the benefit of real time information flows generated by the technically hip, the permanently young, and middle school to college people who just see Twitter as another part of the everyday dataspace.

I am coming around to the view that Twitter-type systems are important and are likely to reshape the notion of real time search.

Stephen Arnold, March 6, 2009


One Response to “Twitting Ain’t Search and Google Used to Suck”

  1. Marc Dangeard on March 6th, 2009 2:02 pm

    What is interesting is that microblogging is clearly not blogging. The 140 characters requires that you streamline the message, because there is only so much you can pack into it. So what goes through is either chat (there is a lot of this and there is good value in this already), links (Guy Kawasaki is making a business out of it with Alltop) or strong messages (emotions?). When you can filter the content correctly you can get a lot of value from it.

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