Tomorrow’s newspaper use to be how we would learn about today’s news. Then, with the advent of television, we’d learn about today’s news on the evening news or on a 24 hour news station. The internet then unleashed the world to report the news when they wanted, how they wanted.
For the past few years, there have been many ways to navigate the web to find out what is going on right now. You could go to cnn.com to see breaking news, or you could perform a search at Google news to search multiple media outlets. However, while media outlets aren’t able to cover every story, the power of the internet enables most every story to be discussed. From this, the real time web was born.
At any time, users can navigate the real time web to see what is happening, this instant. So, if there is an earthquake in San Francisco, internet users can utilise a real time web search engine to find out what people are saying about it. While traditional media outlets may cover the earthquake as a whole, the real time web will give you the pulse of the public right now. It enables you to learn about how the earthquake has affected a tiny neighbourhood or a corner store which wouldn’t be covered in the mainstream news.
Several startups–including mine–have entered this space to try and make an impact while providing value for internet users:
Topsy – Topsy is probably the most interesting real time search engine on the web. Topsy will look at all of the links that have been posted on Twitter – and they will then rank their search results based on the links which have been posted the most. So, if a user posts and shares a respective link, that’s a vote for the link, and Topsy is able to tally each vote to figure out what the most popular links are for a particular search query. Topsy also factors in the authority of the person that is sharing the link to help ensure a quality user experience. If you search Topsy for the keyword Los Angeles, you will see the most popular links related to Los Angeles. A great feature is the ability to select the time period for which to search. For example, you can see the most popular links about Los Angeles from the past hour, day, week, month, or year.
Tweetmeme Tweetmeme is similar to Topsy in that it scours websites such as Twitter to find the most popular links being shared. It also lets you narrow your search further with tools such as the option to search only links which have been shared over 100 times. Tweetmeme, you’ll notice from Alexa, is ranked as one of the top 1,000 visited websites in the world. A major portion of this traffic growth has come from the “retweet” button that they allow other websites and blogs to implement for free. The button allows any internet user to easily share the story they are reading. Moreover, the button displays a number which shows you how many times the story has been shared on Twitter. And, when you click on that number, you are taken to Tweetmeme’s website where they show each person whom has shared the respective link. So, each time a blogger or website installs the simple Tweetmeme button above or below their content, the Tweetmeme website is only one click away.
Sency — Sency, my company, allows internet users to quickly navigate the real time web. Our search function pulls in both what people are talking about on Twitter along with what today’s most popular links are. This dual pronged approach enables Sency to allow you to easily navigate the real time via reading what people are saying without having to navigate through non relevant, cluttered links because Sency only displays the most popular links in their results. Sency also offers websites a free feed for their websites and blogs that allow site owners to place real time, automatically updating, content on their pages. The free feed is private labelled and it allows websites and blogs to customise the subject matter along with several other attributes.
In addition to these startups, Bing and Google have recently announced a partnership with Twitter to display real time results. Yahoo has also announced a plan to enter the space via a partnership with real time web startup Oneriot.
It is clear that this information is of interest to users. The challenges for real time web search engines continue to be monetizing these search queries along with filtering out the junk so that users can get legitimate information more often.
Evan Britton is the founder of Sency