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Thursday, 26th August 2010

New: Google Realtime Search (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Gets Its Own Interface With New Features and Archived Posts, Tweets

UPDATE (Friday, August 27, 2010): We've UPDATE THIS POST WITH SEVERAL NEW PIECES OF INFO. You can access the UPDATE here.

In December, 2009 Google began offering real-time search search results from Twitter in results sets and with the option to narrow and focus on the left side of a results page. During that time they added material from MySpace, Facebook and Buzz.

Then, on April 14, 2010 (hours before the Library of Congress made an announcement about archiving tweets) so did Google. They called the service, Google Replay.

Since then we've heard little about the project and this Google Replay "experimental" page (note the text in the yellow box) still says to go elsewhere (it hasn't worked in several months). Like many things Google, launches happen quickly and in this case we see that illustrated. If, for whatever reason you have the page bookmarked, you should probably move to the new URL asap.

New URL? What's Going On?

As of today Google Realtime Search that includes Google Replay is live. Like many things Google the buzz dies down and discussions move elsewhere. Then, almost out of nowhere, the service or feature reappears.

Note: The URL here (that works) will not be the official URL. Of course, you can also get to the social interface by running a search at Google.com and then clicking More and then selecting Updates.

The official URL for Google Realtime Search will be: http://www.google.com/realtime


The "Updates" database contains content from Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, as well as some blogs. The video also mentions news stories. Were not sure what it means. However, the BBC and many news organizations Tweet their news stories so in many ways Google Realtime is a news search tool as well. Btw, we also came across posts from FriendFeed. While FriendFeed still remains available it is now part of Facebook.

Refinements and Other Features

Running a search is just like with any other Google interface. In terms of refinements (in the left column):

Refine by Location (3 Options)

+ Anywhere

+ Nearby (Based on IP)

+ Custom Location (Placed in Location in the Box)


+ Country Name

We entered just London or Londres (London, UK results). London, ON (London Ontario also worked).

+ Rome or Roma Returns Results from Rome, Italy. Rome, NY is also available if you use the NY abbreviation.

+ Zip Codes or Post/Postal Codes Do Not Work

+ In Most Cases, States Abbreviations (ex. OR for Oregon does not). You can also limit by Canadian province but you have to spell the name if you don't use a city. British Columbia. Finally, we tried both New South Wales and Queensland but both did not work.

+ Also, each entry has a location stamp next to it. That is also hyperlinked to see more posts from that location.

The Final Option is to Show All Updates or Limit to Updates with Images.
Here is the same search using both options.

Hurricane Katrina: All Updates and Only Updates with Images

Thumbnails of images appear below results. Clicking on them takes you to the source of the image. In this case, TwitPic.

Other Features Worth Mentioning

1) More Useful Info with Each Result (When Available)
In one location all of the retweets and replies in a single location. You can also spot hashtags (if they were assigned) and if it is a reply.

You'll see all of this next to and/or below the snippet. You might also notice (with some posts) that if the tweet included links to an article(s) or web site (s). They will be available as a link without having to open up the actual tweet. All of this appears above the source, date, and time line.

You'll see examples of many of these features with this search for ResourceShelf.

If it's easier for you to construct a query (especially if you want to use it again) with #hashtags and @ symbols, they will not cause an problem and might make it easier to recall precisely what you were looking for. #hashtags and/or @ (for retweets) in a query.

2) Conversation View

Often a single tweet sparks a larger conversation of re-tweets and other replies, but to put it together you have to click through a bunch of links and figure it out yourself. With the new “full conversation” feature, you can browse the entire conversation in a single glance. We organize the tweets from oldest to newest and indent so you quickly see how the conversation developed.

3) Google Alerts
Near the bottom of every results page is a link to take that search and create a Google Alert with it.

The Archive/Google Replay

A key and welcomed addition to the search scene.

We found material from FriendFeed back to 2005.

However, results from different the time periods still seem incomplete. For example, the first tweet was made at 9:50 PST on March 21, 2006. It came from Twitter's Jack Dorsey and said, "just setting up my twttr." However, when we go back to that day and time (and into early the next day), the tweet does not appear. SEE UPDATE.

We're working on getting date ranges for each source. We would also like to know if the time Google is using with Google Replay/RealTime is Pacific, Eastern, UTC, or ?

In the meantime, our suggestion is to get to know the archive/"Replay" database by USING IT. The interface only appears when you select the LATEST updates option. It does take some getting used to and remember, they are rolling the service out today.

Want More Material, Examples and Illustrations? No Problem!!

This two minute video from Google is a good place to begin. We're sure many other videos are already available.

Also, as you would expect, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has a great overview available here.

See Also: Topsy deploys v2 platform to index 100 billion status updates (via Topsy.com, August 24, 2010)

Unlike most retrieval systems, Topsy organizes its search index in real-time, while still maintaining a long-term history.

At least as of a few days ago, one search insider said Topsy needed more work. We're going to spend some time with it soon.
+ Topsy: Now Searching Tweets Back To May 2008

UPDATE (Friday, August 27, 2010): We've UPDATED THIS POST WITH SEVERAL NEW PIECES OF INFO. You can access the update here.

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