The Power of real-time search with Twitter / by Mike Takahashi

Let's stop a second and think about how we search for information on the internet for things like events. Most of you will probably use Google, or maybe Bing if you're a rebel? But the information you're searching for has probably already happened sometime in the past and it's eventually picked up by search engines. Even this blog post probably won't be picked up by Google for a while.

What if you want to find out about something that is happening now, in real-time? For example, you're going to see Radiohead at the Greek Theatre tonight, but you're running late and you want to know what time they'll be taking the stage. Using Twitter's search function, you type in "Radiohead Greek Theatre" and find out that someone who is already at the show has tweeted "Radiohead going on @10pm! I can't wait. OH Yeah!!" This is possible because Twitter's search function is searching every single tweet that is happening in real-time. Think about the power of this. Just 3 years ago, before Twitter, this wasn't around.

Real-time search is also affecting the way news is delivered.

This past week I was in my apartment when there was a very loud boom that shook all my windows. It sounded like a huge explosion and I wanted to know what it was. So what did I do? I went to http://www.twitter.com and searched for "explosion los angeles." Sure enough, there were people already tweeting about it. As it turned out, it was the Discovery shuttle entering the atmosphere. It had to make an alternate landing at Edwards Air Force Base, just outside Los Angeles, due to bad weather at the original landing spot in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In the past we used to find out about news the day after it happened with something called newspapers. Are they still around? Let's fast forward a bit to the internet, with news sites like CNN.com, where we're able to have news delivered to us in a faster medium. Now, with real-tme search, we can have news delivered even FASTER. Hyper-breaking news the instant it happens.

All of this is happening quickly. However, there hasn't been much discussion on how it will effect things in the long term. Organizations no longer own the news anymore. Will sites such as CNN.com still be the go to source for "Breaking News" as it happens? Or will the power of real-time news from your average citizen take over?