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by Stephen Logan on 22nd May 2009
To many, Twitter may still seem like the new kid on the block, a quick upstart that is having its five minutes of fame before fading back into obscurity. But it says a lot for their clout, that the innovative real-time search capability they’ve developed has had Google scrambling for a retort.
As reported across many other channels, including WebProNews this morning, Google are having to seriously rethink their search strategy in order to counteract its social media adversary. But is real-time search really worth all the hassle? How many people will actually use such a thing if it was implemented?
There’s no doubting that Google don’t want to get left behind on this issue. Twitter has been gaining a huge following right across the globe, and their numbers as swelling by the day. So if Google wants to maintain its ownership of the search crown, it can’t have another company out innovate it.
Real-time information is usually made up of tiny snippets of information. They’re often produced in conversation or as tweets, with users simply relaying what they see, witness or feel. It can be something as earth shattering as a natural disaster or as simple as a sports result, there’s no finite rule. Traditional news and search outlets tend to take time to create reports and index them fully; this loses some of the immediacy of an event. In real-time, you can find out something in a matter of seconds.
There’s no doubt that this can become an extremely useful resource. But there is also the potential for rumours and subterfuge to take over, particularly in unmoderated forums such as Twitter. If enough people club together to suggest that something earth shattering has happened, then news could immediately spiral out of control.
Recently it was Patrick Swayze’s death that was wrongly reported, wrongly in so far as he is very much still alive. Whilst amongst fans and family this could be potentially distressing, there is obviously the potential for even bigger hoaxes to be played out, particularly if Google join the fold.
Real-time certainly would be a welcome addition, and one that I think Google must and will ultimately make. But there will always be a certain amount of cynicism surrounding the validity of statements, purely as they won’t always come from ‘reputable’ sources. It’s a fine line, but it would certainly could bring search as a whole in to a whole new level of development.
If you’ve got any thoughts on real-time search and whether or not it would be a positive thing for Google to incorporate, let us know, comments are always welcome.