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Thursday, May 7, 2009

This Is Why Twitter Is Useful

Posted by on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 12:18 PM

It's not the specific people Twittering about their lives. It's all the people Twittering about our world:

Twitter has some very interesting plans for its newly-unveiled live search function: soon it will activate crawlers that will index the links users include in their Tweets. In one fell swoop that turns Twitter into an even more powerful news and opinion aggregator. Look and learn, Google.

The news came directly from Santosh Jayaran, VP of Operations at Twitter. Interestingly, he was previously VP of Search Quality at Google. Twitter plans to turn its search results from a mere list of updates that people tweet related to the topic you're searching for into a fully-fledged live data source.

The idea of many people's opinions and concerns and information being immediately available to everyone is a potent one, and something that Google—not even Google's Blog Search, which feels kind of heavy and slow for a Google search—can't quite do on its own. It's a genius use of what they've built, and this is how Twitter will eventually be able to monetize their business.


Comments (32) RSS

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King Rat 32
You don't want to look at Google Blog Search for a comparison. You want to look at Google Trends for the comparison.
Posted by King Rat on May 7, 2009 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Fnarf 31
Yeah. Hah hah hah. Someone signed up for Twitter with "Fnarf" 36 minutes ago, applied a picture they stole from my account, and posted a tweet "hating twitter so much". Very fucking funny.

It's the same cunt who stole the same picture for registering here as "internet hate machine". Mr. Poe? Is that you?
Posted by Fnarf on May 7, 2009 at 4:48 PM · Report this
w7ngman 30
Dammit Paul, NOW you tell me? I just deleted my twitter account.
Posted by w7ngman on May 7, 2009 at 4:33 PM · Report this
jackie treehorn 29
And I'm sure I've said it before, and seriously not that much disrespect to the Slog comment posters with a decent sense of humor (it's all relative, some people still really like Sarah Silverman, what can you do), but there are so many consistently funny people on Twitter to follow. Arguably it has value as a meta bulletin board and twitter search will probably be the way they monetize it in the end, but as an aggregator of funny people's brains, it provides more chuckles per hour than the occasional precision put-down between Slog frenemies and/or Lindy posts (which are all too infrequent).

Posted by jackie treehorn on May 7, 2009 at 4:06 PM · Report this
MonkeyNose 28
@24 I've read nothing online that explains the usefulness of Twitter. Just sign up (it's free), do some searches on things you're interested in. Follow some people, and then write some things and people will follow you.

The key is this: if you don't want Twitter to be boring and full of crap like what you ate for lunch, make your 140 characters count.

Also, is a good place for people who want to make other people laugh using Twitter as a medium.
Posted by MonkeyNose on May 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM · Report this
jackie treehorn 27
@Fnarf, rather. If nothing else it's great for the attention span-challenged.
Posted by jackie treehorn on May 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM · Report this
jackie treehorn 26
@11 While the same can't be said of Stains, obviously, it can of most any other opinion on any other blog, including yours. I just pontificate in smaller chunks.
Posted by jackie treehorn on May 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Abby 25
@24: it's what you make of it. I use it to talk, generally, with some like-minded people on the Internet I've come to know, like a better version of a chatroom. I can't claim it's useful for anything but I can claim I enjoy it. Like all social networking it's about the network you make.
Posted by Abby on May 7, 2009 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Fnarf 24
@18, maybe it's because I'm having trouble seeing these supposed valuable uses. Most of the ones that are presented proudly with "yeah, but look at this" are either rubbish, or have to do with marketing, which is intrinsically evil. Geni @21 is literally the first example I've seen that makes any sense to me, something where I thought "I could have used that".

Maybe it's because the people who are promoting Twitter the heaviest right now are in fact twits -- popular media stuff, people for whom 144 characters encompasses their entire imagination, people like Shaq or Barbara Walters. Or, alternately, they are pure vapor merchants, like the original Fast Company article here. That's one thing I learned from the article; Fast Company is still around. They were funny ten years ago; what are they doing still in biz? Twitter totally reminds me of 1999. And, with all due respect, so does your defense, a little.

I'd be delighted to be proven wrong (turns out those tampons make good eatin'). So, where's a dinosaur go for a 144-character explanation of why Twitter has value? Preferably from someplace that doesn't feature the word "ethonomics"?
Posted by Fnarf on May 7, 2009 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 23
But Anthony, blogs are useless. Except for maybe about three of them.

Well, alright, three-and-a-half if you count Slog, but only when Dan's posting.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on May 7, 2009 at 2:55 PM · Report this
This post was like a Mudede post, except lucid.
Posted by hey yo on May 7, 2009 at 2:51 PM · Report this
Geni 21
Oh, and it worked for the actual conference sessions, too. "Tried to get into the Exchange 07 troubleshooting talk, room too full. Anybody have suggestions for an alternative?" was one of mine, and someone recommended a session I hadn't considered that was actually one of the most useful ones I attended.
Posted by Geni on May 7, 2009 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Geni 20
Twitter's great at professional conferences, so that you can get all the great vendor swag and get into the good parties (and blow off the boring ones). I started using it last year at Tech Ed, used it heavily during the conference, and have barely touched it since. Tweets like "we're all over at the IT Pros party, and people are stripping" are useful if you're sitting alone in your hotel room with a box of crackers and a glass of complimentary happy hour wine.
Posted by Geni on May 7, 2009 at 2:36 PM · Report this
Posted by watchout5 on May 7, 2009 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Anthony Hecht 18
The idea that Twitter is not useful because some people say boring shit on there is silly, and no different than saying that blogs are useless because there are useless blogs, or cell phones cause rudeness because some people don't know how to use them politely. Twitter is a tool - it can be used in lots of ways. What's weird is that people who don't use it at all have such strong opinions about how pointless it is. Like my opinion about how pointless tampons are.
Posted by Anthony Hecht on May 7, 2009 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Fnarf 17
@11, yeah, us flat-earthers don't understand why sentient beings would be interested in gems like "Cantonese is loud."
Posted by Fnarf on May 7, 2009 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@6: that's great, if your company's plan is to only market to morons.

In the future, all restaurants WILL, in fact, be Taco Bells I guess.
Posted by Fnarf on May 7, 2009 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Twitter is still around? Isn't it May...?
Posted by bluh? on May 7, 2009 at 1:22 PM · Report this
seandr 14
What's to stop Google from offering a Twitter search?
Posted by seandr on May 7, 2009 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 13
Is it acceptable to call people who Twitter "Twits?"
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on May 7, 2009 at 1:09 PM · Report this
monkey 12
It's a useful marketing tool, is what it is. Soon everyone will be taking commercials with them where ever they go. It'll be like Tom Cruise walking through the mall in The Minority Report.
Posted by monkey on May 7, 2009 at 1:09 PM · Report this
jackie treehorn 11
Posted by jackie treehorn on May 7, 2009 at 1:09 PM · Report this
MonkeyNose 10
It's easy to dismiss Twitter because of its new found celebrity, or the annoying way people use it at inappropriate times, or to pass it off as a fad, but Twitter is much more powerful than MySpace or Facebook, which are geared at maintaining existing relationships. Twitter lets you find new people, and you're always willing to take a chance because you'll never hear more than 140 characters at a time from them.

And just like the real world, if you find people that annoy you, don't follow them. The people who are worth following, and the relationships you can have with them, run deeper than 140 characters. It's something that needs to be experienced to be believed.
Posted by MonkeyNose on May 7, 2009 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Hyzenthlayk9 9
There is also the chance that as trends and information becomes harvestable, that there will be folks who will realize how to 'game' the system in the same way that Google searches and Amazon bestseller rankings can be manipulated.

As companies start to base business and marketing decisions on that data, there will be a greater need to ensure that the results are 'valid' and 'accurate' and not artificially conflated by an outside agent being paid to 'play' the system.
Posted by Hyzenthlayk9 on May 7, 2009 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Being atwitter about Twitter will be short-lived unless they can come up with a business model. They have no revenue stream other than VC money. Investors are eventually going to demand a return on said investment.
Posted by Janus303 on May 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM · Report this
What's with the bold, dude? Chill the fuck out sometimes.
Posted by Max J on May 7, 2009 at 12:47 PM · Report this

I would think such information would be a veritable gold mine for marketers, as it appears to provide the ability to more-or-less instantly gauge public response to a product or service. That information in turn becomes leverage to monetize the results to companies that may want to know how their product is faring, since presumably the tracking functions will provide specific and comprehensive demographic breakdowns by geographic area, by age, gender, income level and similar information tied to ones cell phone account, most of which I imagine is accessible to Twitter to some degree.

In addition, Twitter can track how quickly positive or negative "word of mouth" (WOM) is distributed throughout the system, which might give companies and their advertisers an advantage in terms of being able to target messages more specifically, based on the nature of responses, how quickly they're filtering through the system, and where they're going, based on geography, social-networks, or other criteria.
Posted by COMTE on May 7, 2009 at 12:38 PM · Report this
The idea of many people's opinions and concerns and information being immediately available to everyone is a potent one

Or a horrible one.
Posted by giffy on May 7, 2009 at 12:38 PM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 4
This Is Why Twitter Is Not Useful:…

Shaquille O'Neal said on Twitter, where Ramirez was the No. 1 search topic: "Dam manny ramirez, come on man Agggggggggh, agggggggh,agggggh.''
Posted by John Scott Tynes on May 7, 2009 at 12:34 PM · Report this
sepiolida 3
Twitter isn't useful.
Posted by sepiolida on May 7, 2009 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
But how is knowing the microthoughts of millions of people supposed to help you? I can see the usefulness of Twitter for breaking news and stuff -- "OMG he's got a gun" -- but something you actually want to read and think about?

"Living in the future is like having bees live in your head". Indeed.
Posted by Fnarf on May 7, 2009 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 1
I stopped reading that post after 140 characters.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 7, 2009 at 12:25 PM · Report this

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