Twitter search parallels other vertical search domains

Sunday 1st March, 2009

In case you haven’t tried it already, Twitter’s search tool is very well implemented. It’s effective, slick, and very fast.

Being able to quickly and efficiently search through the life streams and conversations of a good proportion of the thought leaders and early adopters in the UK and US seems to me like something with a bit of potential… a stream that’s ripe for news and knowledge management apps like Techmeme, Silobreaker, and Google News. It’s a fair bet that conversation and life-streaming will be a valuable search domain just like user-uploaded video (apparently Youtube searches outnumber Yahoo’s).

Conventional (i.e. text and metadata-driven) image search is another search domain in which the big search companies seem willing to absorb losses. As I (and many others) have mentioned before, their willingness to do this stems from their desire to occupy user mindshare for the entire search concept, rather than piecemeal domains or verticals. As we can see from attempts by Google and Microsoft to include content-based image retrieval (CBIR) functionality that eagerness is not likely to be restricted to textual image search.

While my opinion may obviously be biased, I wouldn’t be that surprised to see “conversation” (Twitter, Friendfeed and life-streaming) and “product” (including price and visual similarity features)  tabs integrated into the search boxes of the big three in the relatively near future.


Twitter API Fail

Thursday 8th January, 2009

I was going to start this post with an “I told you so”, but have realised that my post about how Twitter’s 3rd party API stupidly requires your user password is still in my drafts folder from November. Oops.

Anyway, the punchline is that apparently one of Twitter’s employees gave away a password that can be used on their administration interface by giving it to a 3rd party service. This naturally has caused a bit of a stir.

I hope this acts as a lesson to both users and service providers… handing out your password to anyone, even someone who looks legit like Facebook, is a BAD idea. If you want an example of a better way to do work, services like FriendFeed enable 3rd party integration using a syndication key (that you can revoke if you wish) that gives them limited access. Another option would be OAuth, an emerging open standard for authorisation.


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