Last week Google began including results from Twitter on their results page. The tweets are accessed through a timeline with a handle you can grab to scroll through results over time.

This is incredibly cool. At the same time, I can’t help noticing that while it presents a lot of information, it’s not immediately clear how to construct meaning from it.

Google talks about using the results to “’replay’ what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter.” That seems to describe the usage model pretty accurately: search, scroll through all results, and make of them what you will. It seems to lend itself to historical or anthropological purposes, rather than traditional search.

Here’s some sample tweets returned by searching for “Obama“: This isn’t so great if you’re interested in policy, but highly interesting if you’re investigating the teaparty movement. Ditto with this result:

Up until now, if you were researching a group of people, you would search on the group’s name. With tweets, you really want to search on the topics the group publishes about. So this could change the average information consumer’s search strategies.

The Google Blog suggests this search to “relive” Shaun White’s Olympic glory. The idea of reliving it is interesting, because what’s being relived is not the actual moment, but the response of thousands of people to that moment.

(And, like everything else, it could really use semantic search to filter out stuff like this: )

To sum up: Twitter on Google is very cool. It will change the way we search, but right now not even Google knows a good way to use it. It dumps a huge amount of raw info on the searcher, and leaves it the individual to navigate, sift, and construct meaning out of it.

But, it was only announced this week, and clever people are certainly already at work on innovative ways to build meaning out of the firehose that is the global tweetstream. A semantic search layer? Sentiment analysis? There’s a lot of possibility here.

By the time this posts, Google will probably have rolled this out worldwide. Have you tried it? What do you think?

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