Sunday, August 23, 2009
Twitter: "It's the search, stupid"
For all of you that are wondering, why do I need this Twitter thing? and what is the big deal about knowing what other people had for breakfast? or thinking, I'll never come back to this Twitter in a zillion years... think again!
Here's a little different perspective of why Twitter is indeed so relevant and it will just become more and more relevant overtime.
Did you think that Twitter was a life streaming service? Well ... it is! but what it is really becoming is a huge index for web content organized by time, social closeness and geographical data. So, what do you get in the end? A search engine, even when we don't see it like that for now. That's where it's going and that's what it will become for the majority of users that are not necessarily content generators but content consumers.
We have to remember that users will follow the 1:10:100 rule as far as content creation, a trend that might be changing with younger generations but is still very true as of today. This rule would basically tell us that every 100 "content consumer" users that will be out there just reading tweets, following others and searching there will be 10 that are "synthesizers" mostly doing re-tweets and hollow posts (no links to new web content or no relevant content on their own) and only 1 will be actually "creators" generating tweets that index relevant pages created on the web or have original text content of their own. Right now, twitter users are mostly in the synthesizers and creators groups (1:10) and the big consumers group (100) is usually not enticed enough to stay. Those consumers are the people that signed up, checked it out, thought useless/boring/time waste and forgot about it ... But, things will change.
Search will be refined, like it just was by adding location, and it'll become more evident and user friendly. Content will have more metadata attached, which in the end is search engine material, so search results can be more relevant. Content will continue to grow and expand. And, sooner or later, the consumers group, the 100 group, which is the mainstream group as well, will start finding utility in searching, discovering and using twitter information. The index will work for them, and they'll be the new twitter fans.
Here are the reasons why, twitter it's all about search:
1. Tweets are 140-char link indexes.
Tweets do link the web. Most everything that is being produced on the net right now such as blog posts, web site pages, other tweets, facebook updates (soon to come) are linked by tweets. Tweets are pointing to everything that is happening on the web as it happens. That's where the 140 characters limitation worked a miracle by generating new habits of synthesizing an idea and linking to the expanded content which creates the super web index that twitter is becoming.
2. Relevance by freshness, social closeness and geo-location.
The user in the present moment is or could be at the center of the search experience in twitter. I could search by freshness or time relevance and I assume with time they could be allowing me to actually search for tweets in the future or past in addition to the precious now. Also, I could search within the global twitterverse as well as I could be searching within my own network of who I decide to follow. Recently enabled was the search by physical location which brings into the picture incredible extra ways in which searchs can be profiled.
3. Social built-in.
Twitter started as a social network, a flexible one, much more open than others like Facebook, but the social component of being able to say these are the people I care for is there and that might be key in the future of how they cater search. This is a key component of the viral behavior twitter generates. Once data portability is implemented, as it most likely will be, you could post in twitter for only your group of friends or for all your followers and be much on control of how you share/stream your data.
Update: found this great article about this same subject back in Feb 09.