One of the most interesting things going on today on the Internet is the notion of the real time web. The idea of accessing data in real time has been an elusive goal in the world of search. Web indexes in search engines update at pretty amazing rates, given what it takes to crawl the entire web and index it for searching, but getting that to “real time” has been challenging.
The explosive popularity of Twitter is the best example of this opportunity. Twitter is producing millions of tweets every minute on every subject you can imagine. The power of those tweets as a form of data that can be surfaced in search is enormous. Innovative services like Twitter give us access to public opinion and thoughts in a way that has not before been possible. From important social and political issues to keeping friends up to date on the minute-by-minute of our daily lives, the web is getting more and more real time.
Search needs to keep up. Shortly after we launched Bing, we did an experiment with the team at Twitter, where we took a fairly small number of “celebrities” from Twitter and provided access to their tweets as part of the search result. Here is a great example.
But what if we take that to the next level? What if we indexed basically the whole public Twitter stream and made it available to customers?
We’re glad you asked that. Because today at Web 2.0 we announced that working with those clever birds over at Twitter, we now have access to the entire public Twitter feed and have a beta of Bing Twitter search for you to play with (in the US, for now). Try it out. The Bing and Twitter teams want to know what you think.
How does this all work?
Were you as fascinated by the 6-year-old boy floating away in a balloon as we were? Was it a hoax? We know that people are going to twitter more and more for information surrounding all the latest chatter.
You can now search for what people are saying all over the web about breaking news topics, your favourite celebrity, hometown sports team, and anything else you use Twitter to stay on top of today.
The search results on people’s tweets will show up like this:
If you want to keep an eye on this topic, you can just watch the Tweets roll in. Or, click on “See more Tweets about…” to go to a page full of Tweets. On that page, you can change the ordering to “Best Match.” Here we arrange Tweets differently. If someone has a lot of followers, his/her Tweet may get ranked higher. If a tweet is exactly the same as other Tweets, it will get ranked lower. For example, I saw a Tweet from ABC News ranked pretty high in the Best Match mode during the “boy in the balloon” fiasco. By the way, you won’t see any of your tweets if you protected or deleted them, and tweets don’t last more than 7 days in our index.
Are you a Taylor Swift fan? Just think of all the links that are shared on twitter that have to do with Taylor. To help you find these links we sift through and find the most interesting and hot trending links that other search engines usually don’t pick up on. Below you can see a couple of interesting links shared by Twitter users – some news and some gossip.
Instead of the usual captions that are used for links, we decided to give you a “social caption” and show you what people are saying about these links.
Our team has been using this product internally, below are some situations where it came in handy:
- Sean Suchter (my boss) and I avoided a closed freeway on a rainy Seattle day and made our flight home.
- Eric Scheel (principle program manager on the team) a photo-gear junkie, keeps up on early product reviews and owners’ tweets, which helped him decide on his next purchase.
- My wife thinks I am almost cool because I know stuff about Taylor Swift.
We’d love to hear some stories from you about how this may have helped you. Of course, we also want to hear your ideas about how to keep improving this product.
Paul Yiu and the Bing Social Search Team