Posted by: Dave | June 5, 2008

Summize: The Twitter Search

I’ve been having fun experimenting with Twitter for the last couple of days. It’s more appealing to me now than it was when it first came along, not just because of my more intelligent appraisal of it, but because I actually know a few people, personally, who use it. While I feel like I’ve been behind the times on this one, I also don’t think I’ve missed a whole lot – except for all the information contained in tweets themselves – because Twitter and what it does hasn’t changed much since it started. At least that’s my impression right now.

However, tonight I stumbled across this relatively recent post over on Paul S’s blog talking about Summize: a search tool for public tweets. My understanding is that a key way Summize is better than other Twitter searchers is its ability to let you subscribe to custom search query feeds. In other words, you can use it to keep up to speed on what people are saying about a certain topic. Paul Stamatiou uses Summize to track tweets about the web startup he’s involved with, called Skribit:

“I subscribe to that in Safari, which passively notifies me of new results with the number of results next to the bookmark. It fits seamlessly into my daily workflow. When I spot someone having trouble with Skribit, I’ll drop them a message on Twitter to see if I can help.”

So, clearly this tool has potential in the realm of product management. I also wonder about its potential for regular research. I think I’ll suggest it to my friend who is looking for suggestions on a good CMS for one of his clients at work.

Inspired by my shiny new copy of Convergence Culture, I plunked “Henry Jenkins” into Summize and was informed that he didn’t give a keynote presentation at a conference in NYC on June 2nd as advertised, due to illness. I feel better about not being able to go to that now. As a little experiment, I checked out the first page of Google search results for Jenkins’ name. You get his personal website, his CV, some Amazon pages for ordering his books, but nothing about his recent cancellation of a speaking engagement. This illustrates how searching Twitter exclusively can turn up more relevant data, depending on what you’re looking for.

The prospect of being auto-provided with micro-blog posts, on particular topics, as they’re updated in real-time, reminds me of the whole point of the semantic web: machines reading web content for us. It’s an interesting bit of progression, because we’re talking about a utility that caters to a very human need to be social, which is a departure from traditional applications of computing power, such as crunching numbers.

Now, if I could just get my Twitterfeed in my sidebar working.

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