Talking tech since 2003

Realtime search is a huge topic of discussion today.  By huge, I mean, literally huge.  Various industry blogs discuss it all the time and even Google seems to be interested in the realtime arena.  In the society we live in today where everything is instant and people love instant gratification it’s not a surprise realtime search is a big topic that is on people’s minds.  There are quite a few startups focusing on realtime search currently and honestly I don’t see a future for any of them at the moment.  Mainly because none of them are particularly good which is probably why none of them have much traffic.

At this point in time, the real problem with realtime search is that it is not relevant realtime search.  I believe that is the true problem.  We do not need a realtime search stream of results, what we need is a relevant realtime search stream of results.  The company that figures out how to do that will be the one to succeed and honestly I just do not see one of these startups such as OneRiot creating that type of search.

Here is what needs to happen for relevant realtime search to come to fruition and actually make an impact.  First, we need to stop thinking of Twitter being the only source of realtime content.  Yes, it may be the first source that is looked at but it cannot be the only source we take into account.  What I’m really getting at is that websites can be “realtime” too (and no, I’m not crazy).  Believe it or not, not everyone is always sitting at their computer so if something were to happen (e.g. Apple released new iMac’s) a blog or website could have potentially covered the topic by the time the person who went to search about it got to their computer.  Everything is relative, so we need to include websites and blogs in the realtime search equation too.

Nonetheless, Twitter needs to implement better relevancy in their own search engine, which currently sucks – it’s the least relevant of any of the ones out there, it truly is just a realtime stream of results.  If Twitter can innovate and revamp their search engine to be relevant they will be a force to be reckon with in the search game.  The reason I say this because you do not have to use Twitter to have access to the search, just like, you do not need a Google account to search the web with Google.

So what exactly am I getting at?  Well, Google doesn’t really create its own content per se, it just allows you to find it.  The same exact concept can be applied to Twitter if it had relevant results.  People would use it to find information in realtime.  They wouldn’t even have to be regular Twitter users or even a registered user.  The Twitter users who are tweeting are doing all the work (e.g. creating the content to answer the search query) and all Twitter has to do is take those tweets and give them to the user searching about that particular topic.  I know, easier said then done, right?

If I search “apple” on Twitter, I don’t want to know about the kid who just ate an apple for a snack I want to know about Apple, Inc. and their latest news or people talking about them.  The hardest part about figuring out the whole realtime search thing (especially when looking at tweets) is that tweets can only be 140 characters at a maximum and that may be the most difficult part (though I’m not a programmer) in terms of creating an algorithm that can determine relevance from such a short amount of words.

This is why I think if any company has a shot at truly accomplishing relevant realtime search it will be Google or Microsoft (Bing).  Both companies have the talent and the resources to take on the task and I know both companies are interested in the topic.  Google indexes much quicker (and more often) today then they did a year or two ago, but, it is worth making note that indexing more often is not cheap.  Nonetheless, I believe relevant realtime search will be a reality and quite possibly happen sooner rather than later especially now with Google vs Bing, I expect to see a lot of innovation coming out of Palo Alto and Redmond over the next few years.

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