Has this ever happened to you?
You discover a website you like but something’s nagging you about it. You finally realize what it is- it’s missing an important feature. Something that would make this good website GREAT. You could tell the website creators about it, and they might even listen, but your message will probably just be added to a list somewhere or worse, ignored outright.
If you’re Twitter, ‘soon enough’ might mean never, because I’m still waiting. If you’re Google, though, ‘soon enough’ can mean ‘only a few months later’:
Google will soon be able to search the entire Twitter archive.
That’s right- if it has ever been tweeted, Google will now find it and show it to you.
Even better, Google has added the option to display results in a Twitter-like stream, so you can experience what it was like to follow the conversation at ANY given moment in time (well, any moment since Twitter launched). In fact, you can already see the stream-like view by clicking ‘Updates‘ on any Google search results page.
This is BIG.
From bad to decent
One of the most useful features after Twitter launched in 2006 was the ability to search its tweets. However, you needed to use someone else’s search engine- Summize’s, until Twitter acquired them. Its real-time search let you find what people were talking about, as they were talking about it (or tweeting about it, to be more specific). No one else was doing anything like that.
The main limitation was that Twitter search only indexed tweets from the past 10 days. If it was said 2 weeks ago, 2 months ago, etc., Twitter Search wouldn’t tell you; couldn’t tell you, in fact- that limitation still exists today. But one of the powerful draws to Twitter is as a source of information. While some of that information loses value over time, much of it doesn’t, even if it does stay hidden beyond the 10-day limit.
This limitation and others (like an Advanced Search that, frankly, isn’t) just go to show that even with its purchase of Summize in 2008, Twitter still doesn’t get search.
Luckily, there are some people that do.
From good to great
In October 2009, Google announced its real-time search. Google knows search, and was now applying what they know to Twitter. Well, part of it anyway- you would now be able to search beyond the 10-day limit of Twitter Search, with Advanced Search capabilities more powerful than Twitter’s, but only up to a point. Google “never forgets”, but it can’t forget what it never knew.
As of last week, and possibly available by the time you read this, Google is now indexing the entire Twitter archive, opening up a vault of previously hidden questions, answers and so much more.
Google’s giving us access to millions of previously-hidden tweets means:
- The chance to study the actions and reactions of people you admire
- The chance to study the actions and reactions of people who encountered similar obstacles
- A reference of your Twitter history akin to searching your email
- A way to uncover forgotten resources
- mentions of you before you began monitoring
Overall, this new feature simply increases the chance that people will discover ever more reasons to get on Twitter if they aren’t already.
In its announcement, Google says “For our initial release, you can explore tweets going back to February 11, 2010, and soon you’ll be able to go back as far as the very first tweet on March 21, 2006.” Once that happens- google yourself to make sure there aren’t any surprises that have risen to the surface.