The recent changes applied to twitter brings an interesting dimension to search. When people search for something are they expecting more description about what they are looking or are they expecting current discussions about their search terms? or probably both?
There are discussions about how the twitter live search can be a threat to Yahoo or Google in terms of search foot print. I do not see it that way. Search leading to current discussions of people opinions from social networks or groups can be a nice addition to search but will never can replace the crawling, indexing and complex relevance algorithms in place for the famous search engines.
There are many ways to get current information or chatter about a particular subject. Even before twitter we had this option, search in usenet groups (later Google groups) or search in Yahoo groups by finding the right group to search or most recently the blog search feature from Google. Often times blog search returns more current news about certain elements which may not be always covered by mainstream. Twitter brings more content to this space. Considering the size and user base of Yahoo groups, they have a high level of potential to provide a group search feature based on public groups as part of their search service. They do not provide that today, the only attractive selection from their other options is Yahoo Answers based search.
If we analyze products like Yahoo Pipes which can provide a handy tool to generate a more customized and generic search tool, the possibility of search expansion will endless.
- Information search – user want to know more about a specific subject or keyword
- Chatter search – user want to know about what are people talking about a specific subject or keyword
- Discussion search – user want to know about what are people discussion about a specific subject or keyword
Let’s analyze these segments – users know Wikipedia and other related sites about a specific subject. They want search engines to provide relevant links so that they can get more data for their research. Chatter search is more common to twitter live search, Facebook comments, or Yahoo answers can provide. Discussion search normally attracts people to open web forums or Yahoo/Google groups to get details discussions about a particular subject. This may or may not be current but user’s main interest usually focused on the discussions if they are still applicable to the search term.
There are more areas that are still yet to be analyzed for search extension possibilities – I am afraid that these will lead to more complex privacy related discussions. I have seen people geting surprised looks when Yahoo or Google search on some terms revel their email ids and real names from some discussion forums. Not every internet user knows that most online posting they do is indexed and later will be available for public. There for lets hope that discussions about search active instant messages and SMS will never get to reality!