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?

Posted via email from Modelicious


What I did at (info)camp

October 16, 2009

Last weekend I went to Seattle for InfoCamp, an unconference put together by a group of IA/UX/IxD/Library folks. I could only stay for the Saturday session, and due to my (ahem) directional challenges, I got there later than I would have liked. No matter: the day was absolutely inspiring. I spent it having great conversations with some very smart and creative people, and I’ll be chewing over the ideas they sparked for weeks to come.

So, it turns out Seattle is north of Portland these days. Weird. I missed the first half of Axel Roseler‘s keynote, which was too bad. He has interesting things to say about design, creativity, and process. A designer is someone who predicts the future, he said, and illustrated with examples of some pretty radical rethinkings of airplane cockpit and wayfinding interactions.

I was pretty sure I had missed my calling until I followed up the keynote with a session on service design. Service design involves applying design skills to real-world user experience and information systems. For example, making the DMV experience work for the customer, or streamlining processes across agencies. Coming from more of an information architecture than a user experience background, the first thing about it that most appeals to me is how it can be used to pull together a mishmash of accidental systems into a cohesive whole. But listening to a roomful of talented user experience practitioners made me realize how little I know about that world, and how much I should be learning about it and incorporating it into my work.

The service design conversation really took off. You could have spent your entire Saturday at various follow up sessions, and the people who organized it have plans to find a service design project to do in Seattle. I was too tempted by the other offerings to specialize. I wound up at permaculture design for social media sites, and a brainstorming session on integrating taxonomies and social media into corporate intranets.

Both of these left me with a lot of ideas zinging around my brain, and I’ll post about some of them in the next few days. In the meantime, who wants to put together InfoCamp PDX? I don’t think I can wait a whole year to do this again.