Facebook is Twitter for those never understood what Twitter ever was and is. “I was often asked — why do you use Twitter? To post what you had for lunch today?”

ImageIts a funny thing. When Twitter first showed its face online, my friends would say ‘ c’mon, you can’t be serious. What would you ever use Twitter for? To post what you just had for breakfast or where you are going today? That’s really incredibly stupid and besides, who cares?’

Every morning, I open Twitter and read through many the posts from the people I follow (who know more about a particular subject matter than I do that interests me). I follow them because they are SME’s (subject matter experts) and typically they will post something with a link as back-up about subject I have chosen to read about. This saves me hours a week in not having to sort and peel through the avalanche of media to find these articles of interest myself. They do all the work for me (or most of it).

Well, most of my friends predominantly use FB and not Twitter. I’ve tried to get some of them to use Twitter like it should be utilized — as a firehose of short snippets of information with a link, laser focused on what’s interesting for YOU to read. Twitter is NOT about posting what you had for lunch — never was and never will be.

After 8 + years of being on FB (and I joined in January of 2006), FB is now evolving into the place where my friends post these very personal things that they themselves said they’d never do post online — like ‘ what they had for lunch’ or where they went today or what they bought.

While I don’t mind sometimes looking at one of my friends new dog collars they bought today or the kind of ice cream cone they ate after lunch, I find it more than a little ironic that what they once all thought and called ‘stupid’ on Twitter (i.e. what they had for lunch) are now the prevailing and hot topics of the day along with numerous ‘likes’ from others. Some people I think post things to just see how many ‘likes’ they can get. (disclosure — I do contribute to this by posting 1 ‘happy caturday’ cat picture every Saturday — my excuse? I love cats).

The younger generations (who are fleeing FB in droves) actually post or re-post articles about the environment or health related topics, etc.. Things that I do find of interest to read sometimes. As a result of all this, I find myself spending less and less time on FB, quickly scanning all the nonsense posted. Granted, I enjoy the baby, cat, dog, pictures etc. But I find myself stopping in to FB less and less each week, giving FB one less returning visitor/user statistic on a daily basis. I like being in the minority.

 

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And you thought Twitter was just for ‘I’m eating lunch’.

I’ve been a user of twitter since its inception and I’ll admit I didn’t get it at first. I mean, why do I want to waste my time telling anyone where I am or what I’m eating for breakfast? Or reading what they eat for lunch?   I’ve watched Twitter grow up now for sometime and it has seen some massive growth. So, it cant be from everyone telling everyone else such mundane and useless information. There has to be something here that means so much more. And there is.

Back in the days when I first jumped aboard the web, prior to the first dot.com meltdown, you had Netscape (R.I.P). I used NS as a place or ‘portal’ as they called it to find out the weather, news, events, movies and other things that was scattered throughout the internet. Actually before NS, I used BBS boards. Useful, but a bit boring and graphically plain and in 1 or two colors, its was sloooow to use and a terrible user experience. But then again, that’s all there was until NS appeared.  (Can you say 28k and 56k baud squelching modems)?  And then AOL and Yahoo came along which was a step up from NS. It started collecting ‘links’ for us.

Our browser (netscape) allowed us to bookmark our favorite places so we didn’t forget them. I used to have way too many. And then really simple syndication showed up (RSS) and that was pretty awesome. Sites created an RSS ‘feed’ which was a link of sorts. We then had RSS ‘readers’ and presto, web sites and readers could ‘feed’ us what they updated without us going back to the site to load it up every hour or two. A syndication of information of sorts, quite useful and all of a sudden EVERYONE has an RSS feed.   Then we had ‘shared’ bookmarks. The concept of shared online bookmarks dates back to April 1996 with the launch of itList. Within the next three years, online bookmark services became competitive, with venture-backed companies such as Backflip, Blink, Clip2, ClickMarks, HotLinks, and others entering the market. Then Delicious in 2006 along with reddit, newsvine and dig showed up. All of these allowed us to share what we thought was cool and interesting that we found on the web.  Collaborative tagging so-to-speak.

And then came Twitter. I found that the best way to use Twitter is to consume and drink from twitter and not to necessarily feel so inclined to ‘tweet’ incessantly. With my RSS reader, I have to launch it and peel through (and find) the feeds ‘I’ have chosen to read. With twitter, if I follow people who are smarter than I am, they find things that they ‘tweet’ about and ‘tweet’ them out. Even the ‘re-tweeting’ of things becomes a beacon and new river of new information for me to see and learn from. Think about it –  using smarter people and friends to find cool things to discover and read about on the net in just a short 140 character ‘tweet’. No long story to read, a quick blurb and a link. If I think it may be interesting, I’ll read it. Sometimes I don’t even need to read the article – its encapsulated enough in a tweet. And, yes I get to see what is most obvious about twitter delivered to my mobile or ipad, which is the current trends and events that happen somewhere on the planet which CNN and ABC never get to first anymore. Its usually someone with a mobile phone who ‘tweets’ it. (Think the jet in the Hudson river in NYC).

Yes Twitter can be used as a marketing tool and is all the time – sometime too much so. Twitter’s usefulness as a ‘free’ loudspeaker or podium for their services /software/business can work against people more often than not as its abused so much so that way. But as a way to consume snippets of information from around the planet for even short periods of time from people who are experts at one thing or another that you are NOT an expert at, is pure serendipity. There’s no other tool like it today.

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What is ‘Real-Time’ search? And why should I care?

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So you’ve heard of real-time search yet? If you haven’t, you will in the next 30-60 days. Its the newest iteration of search and its actually quite different in that you can compare and contrast the 2  ‘search’ methods like a river and an ocean. RTS (real-time search) is like a blast of information that you first retrieve in real time and then this information gets crawled and categorized on the web for permanent storage and retrieval by you or I. Similar to a financial stock trade, RTS happens in realtime, without the information being stored, processed or archived or categorized. Then once the information gets handed off to traders who need it ASAP, it gets archived for retrieval later. So, the same set of data is retrieved in RT as can be found later archived on the web – river and the ocean ( a great metaphor – Thanks to Gerry Campbell, CEO of Collecta).

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So Google amasses data, stores it, catagorizes the information for future retrival and serves it up upon your request. RTS happens before this – it happens the instant its published on the web. So retriving, storing and ranking data is not part of RTS. That’s traditional search as we know it. So the value to this new search algoythym is that there is no lag time for the latest information. Its just there and it DOES give us a great deal of value. Using the plane that went down in the Hudson River a bit ago as an example. The very 1st report and photo came froma twitter feed, not a website that spouts news, i.e. CNN, etc. The final few moments of the Lakers playoff games and score where captured in RT on twitter. The final score reported on the cover of Yahoo a mere 15 minutes after the games end. American Idol winner?   So this information is helpful (but not essential) to know ASAP. So, being able to search social media ‘chatter’ (I call it) becomes something very ‘now’ and ‘immediate’. It brings together the traditional web and a users social graph so to speak. Every month, something like 200 million users log-in and chat on Facebook, 46 million users tweet, and many more IM each other or text about something. This ‘something’ is now getting captured and offered up to us in RT. The combo of the two systems is really where it comes all together. RT search is not social search either. You don’t just get RT search because you ‘crawl’ facebook, friendfeed and twitter chatter.  RT search is NOT replacing traditional search – its an add on component that will allow us to further monetize the phenomenon known to all of us as the internet. The list below will only grow exponentially in the coming months. The race is on to master RTS.

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http://collecta.com/ – the one to beat for right now – collects all feeds below and then some
http://www.oneriot.com/ – searches Twitter, Digg and other social sharing services
http://tweetmeme.com/ – searches twitter and re-tweets popular tweets on twitter
http://search.twitter.com/ – searches twitter directly
http://www.scoopler.com/  – searches Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Delicious
http://blogsearch.google.com/ – search the web and only blogs
http://friendfeed.com/ – filters search results by who my frineds are and what they are saying on twitter, friendfeed