Real-time search is the future of the Internet. Here's why.
Two new search engines joined the fractious search fray this morning, and both arrive blessed with impeccable pedigrees.
CrowdEye, a spare, utilitarian site, was designed by Ken Moss, who ran search engineering at Microsoft. Collecta, pictured above, is headed by Gerry Campbell, who served as a search executive at AOL and Reuters, and later advised the Summize start-up (now known as Twitter Search.)
It's important to note that CrowdEye and Collecta are not traditional search engines. Both utilize something called "real-time" search, which crawls data as soon as it hits the Internet. Google, by comparison, crawls the Web at regular but spaced intervals. Google doesn't reveal the exact rate, but it's enough to create a lag between the time I publish this post and the time it appears on Google.
Let's take a step back
Here's an example: Imagine, for a moment, that you work for a major newspaper, and you want to broadcast a piece of breaking news. But you don't want to rely on only the homepage of your newspaper to the get the information out there. Instead, you want to push the news out onto the web, where it will get crawled – and then, with some luck, scooped by the blogosphere.
Right now, Google is still the go-to search engine, but it adds new data to its results pages relatively slowly. In this era of the constantly-updated news cycle, you don't want relatively slow. You want fast – you want right now. Enter real-time search, which ostensibly nabs your report as soon as it officially enters cyberspace.
Twitter users, unite!
If you're a Twitter user, you can see how monumentally important real-time search will be.
As I wrote earlier this week, Twitter’s current search function is inherently limited. The site does allow users to sift through old posts, but every item is ordered chronologically, and finding older information can be a hassle. Randall Stross, a New York Times columnist, has compared searching on Twitter to professional-level angling. “Twitter’s data," he wrote, "fill an ocean in which it’s hard to find specific fish."
Furthermore, Twitter is meant to be a broadcasting service. It was created to swiftly spit out short blasts of information around the globe. What use is Twitter if there isn't an equally speedy search function?
Now I'm no genius....
Obviously, yours truly isn't the only one to have realized the essential incompatibility of Twitter and old-fashioned search.
A small army of real-time search tools has emerged in recent months, each one timed to take advantage of the soaring popularity of Twitter. Facebook is testing an internal real-time search tool, and sites such as OneRiot, Topsy, Tweetmeme, and Scoopler have made great strides in the turbo-search market.
The 8 million-pound gorilla climbs into the ring
And what would an Internet trend be without the Undisputed King of Search? According to popular tech blog Google Operating System, Google is fiddling around with its own microblog search application.
“At Google we strive to connect people to all the world’s information, and this includes information that’s frequently updated such as news sites, blogs and real-time sources,” the company wrote in a statement. “While we don’t have anything to announce today, real-time information is important, and we’re looking at different ways to use this information to make Google more useful to our users.”
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