Pardon the semi-link-bait of the title, but I finally have something to say about this whole “Twitter is a Google Killer!” or “Google is merging/buying Twitter” news-meme that’s plaguing us all. And it all comes from (finally!) listening to David Weinberger’s talk about “knowledge at the end of the Information Age”.
In the hour-long podcast (originally broadcast on TV, I imagine), Weinberger speaks about the triumphs and weirdness of the internet have done for knowledge. One of his key insights is that the internet really opened up meta-data: when search can be ubiquitous, we don’t need to limit ourselves to three (or five, or any arbitrary number of) tags or categories to fit a piece into, unlike the Library of Congress.
That got me thinking: Google’s PageRank is, admittedly, a really useful system. But I think Google really won because they found a clean and efficient way to sort through the meta-data before any of their competitors did. And yes, I remember Altavista’s ability to search a database of MP3s or images, and I imagine other search engines had it too. But Google made it both intuitive and relevant (more often than not).
That, dear readers, is why I believe that Twitter’s real-time search won’t be a Google Killer yet: before it can be, it needs to be able to sort through the meta-data, to fit its real-time results into the mold that its users aren’t asking for, but are hoping to see.