Twitter Ain't Search
The two meme's that seem to be most prevalent about Twitter these days are (1) how is it going to make money; and (2) is it a Google killer? The former is pretty obvious given right now Twitter is not currently monetized while the latter a bit more complicated. Lots of smart people view Twitter as a threat to Google because it in "real time search." I'm not so sure.
Perhaps I'm one of those people that doesn't entirely "get" Twitter. With that, I do from time to time tweet (mostly as an extension of Facebook through the Twitter app) and I try to follow both friends and industry people. My main issue with Twitter as a reader is that it quickly becomes overkill - too many posts moving too quickly down my screen.
Aha, you say, see a killer search app would cure this - Twitter is search. Maybe. I kind of view Twitter as dead simple blog platform for the masses (hence the adoption of it by the masses). Blog platforms like the one for this blog (Movable Type) can be complicated - especially for the mainstream folks who don't know/ want to learn html commands.
Folks like Six Apart and Blogger tried to cure this by creating easy to use blog platforms like Vox and, well, Blogger. But they never hit the mainstream like twitter. It turns out that not just the platform is hard - blogging itself is hard. It's long form. You need to come up with ideas and then write mini-essays on them. No one likes to write essays. Its time consuming and takes lots of editing. And if you want anyone to read them you need to do this at least daily. Not so easy.
Twitter does away with all that. Text messaging 140 characters or less is something most of us do every day outside Twitter and its generally not held to standards on spelling, grammar or even content. "I'm going to the store" is a fine tweet, but a bad blog post. But it is real time expression - and now there is a platform for it: the blog platform for the masses. From geo cities to Movable Type to live journal/ vox/ blogger to this. Everyone now has their presence online and can express themselves.
But is this search? When blogging reached its hay day (3 years ago?), we quickly found out that search was the entirely wrong mechanism to consume blogs. That's why companies like feedster and technorati (and products like google blog search) never really took off. Consuming a blog was more of a social thing, not a search thing. Whether it was through recommendations, shared links, the blogroll, trackbacks, commentary or an aggregator - most of us determined which blogs to consume via social mechanisms, not searching for content.
So back to Twitter: is twitter search going to be really that much different than blog search? Its hard for me to see the differences. Unless of we re-define "search" to mean something beyond user generated queries against an index of documents. I think twitter will be consumed like blogs - socially through word of mouth and links - and yes, Entertainment Weekly. And that ain't search.