Social Search: Nay Sayers Eat Twitter Pie

May 27, 2009

My comments will be carried along on the flow of Twitter commentary today. This post is to remind me that at the end of May 2009, the Google era (lots of older Web content) has ended and the Twitter or real time search era has arrived. Granted, the monetization, stability, maturity, and consumerization has not yet climbed on the real time search bandwagon. But I think these fellow travelers are stumbling toward the rocket pad.

Two articles mark this search shift. Sure, I know I need more data, but I want to outline some ideas here. I am not (in case you haven’t noticed) a real journalist. Save the carping for the folks who used to have jobs and are now trying to make a living with Web logs.

The first article is Michael Arrington’s “Topy Search Launches: Retweets Are the New Currency of the Web” here. The key point for me was not the particular service. What hooked me were these two comments in the article:

  1. “Topsy is just a search engine. That has a fundamentally new way of finding good results: Twitter users.” This is a very prescient statement.
  2. “Influence is gained when others retweet links you’ve sent out. And when you retweet others, you lose a little Influence. So the more people retweet you, the more Influence you gain. So, yes, retweets are the new currency on the Web.”

My thoughts on these two statements are:

  • Topsy may not be the winner in this sector. The idea, however, is very good.
  • The time interval between major shifts in determining relevance are now likely to decrease. Since Google’s entrance, there hasn’t been much competition for the Mountain View crowd. The GOOG will have to adapt of face the prospect of becoming another Microsoft or Yahoo.
  • Now that Topsy is available, others will grab this notion and apply it to various content domains. Think federated retweeting across a range of services. The federated search systems have to raise the level of their game.

The second article was Steve Rubel’s “Visits to Twitter Search Soar, Indicating Social Search Has Arrived” here. I don’t have much to add to Mr. Rubel’s write up. The key point for me was:

I think there’s something fundamentally new that’s going on here: more technically savvy users (and one would assume this includes journalists) are searching Twitter for information. Presumably this is in a tiny way eroding searches from Google. Mark Cuban, for example, is one who is getting more traffic to his blog from Twitter and Facebook than Google.

For the purposes of this addled goose, the era of Googzilla seems to be in danger of drawing to a close. The Googlers will be out in force at their developers’ conference this week. I will be interested to see if the company will have an answer to the social search and real time search activity. With Google’s billions, it might be easier for the company to just buy tomorrow’s winners in real time search. Honk.

Stephen Arnold, May 27, 2009


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