At last count, Twitter was logging approximately 50 million messages a day, at a velocity of 600 tweets per second. According to Twitter, users have sent more than 10 billion tweets since the site launched in 2006 – a major milestone for a platform that started out life as nothing more than a much-mocked curiosity. One side effect of all that tweeting, of course, is that it's increasingly difficult to find information in the vast Twitter archives.
In recent months, Google has amped up its real-time search efforts, in an attempt to keep up with the heavy tweet output. By all accounts, it's a mutually-beneficial move: Google keeps its results current, and Twitter gets a surge of extra traffic. Now Google has announced that it will provide access to all of Twitter's public archives, which will allow users to dig through tweets by topic and date.
"With the advent of blogs and micro-blogs, there’s a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places — some famous and some local," Google product manager Dylan Casey wrote in a blog post. "Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted. We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful."
Here's how the archive search works. Let's say you're a Boston Red Sox fan, and you're interested in hearing what people were saying about pitcher Josh Beckett in 2009, when Beckett was having some trouble on the mound. You'd go to Google's Twitter archive search, and plug in Beckett's name. Within seconds, Google churns out a chart showing all the tweets about Josh Beckett dating back to 2006. The chart shows when Twitter activity surged, and when it waned.
By clicking on a particular date, you can even find the exact moment when the fickle Boston fans got behind their starting ace again. Obviously, there are a lot of interesting uses for the functionality – tracking the arc of a fast-moving celebrity story, for instance, or pin-pointing the moment when Twitter buzz becomes a full-bodied Twitter flood.
Google says the archives search will be rolled out slowly over the next few days.