Marketplace Scratch Pad

Twitter ups the ante

Scott Jagow May 7, 2009

CNET says Twitter is about to change its search function in a way that could make it at least a semi-competitor for Google. Right now, a Twitter search only turns up a bunch of random tweets (short conversations) on a topic. But Twitter will soon begin crawling the links included in tweets and index that content.

And another change is coming, according to CNET:

Twitter Search will also get a reputation ranking system soon, Jayaram told me. When you do a search on a “trending” topic (a topic that is so big it gets its own link in the Twitter.com sidebar), Twitter will take into account the reputation of the person who wrote each tweet and rank search results in part based on that.

Santosh Jayaram is Twitter’s new VP of Operations. He used to be in charge of Search Quality at Google.

There are a lot of links on Twitter, and I could see this being a very effective search engine, in time, with the reputation ranking system in effect. I wonder if we’ll get to see it in action before Google (or someone else) buys Twitter. Just the threat of it might drive up Twitter’s price.

Jayaram also tells CNET an interesting Twitter search story:

…he told of being in the Twitter offices in San Francisco on March 30, when the Twitter engineers noticed that the word “earthquake” had suddenly started trending up. They didn’t know where the earthquake was. Several seconds later, their building started to shake. The earthquake had been in Morgan Hill, 60 miles south of San Francisco, and the tweets about the shaker reached the office faster than the seismic waves themselves.

The times we live in — news travels faster than an earthquake.

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