Yesterday it seemed the war between Tweedledee and Tweedledum was finally over as Microsoft announced a deal to bring not only tweets to Bing, but Facebook data as well. Of course, just a few short hours later, Google declared a Twitter deal of their own.
Meaning? It. Just. Got. Interesting.
RT @Bing, #Bing, #ZOMG
In a change of pace (which we expect will last for at least the next few hours) it seems Microsoft currently has what could be perceived as the upper hand. Their search engine Bing has actually been in cahoots with Twitter since debuting in May of this year. In fact, Microsoft’s testing of the integration has been taking place right under our noses via Bing’s inclusion of a select few “celebrity” Twitter streams in their results.
For example, if you recently used Bing to search for information about the decision to oust Paula Abdul from American Idol's panel, you might’ve gotten results that went a little something like this:
Isn’t that great? Because honestly, who wouldn’t want to know about Ryan Seacrest’s sadness? Probably a lot of people, actually. Accordingly, team Bing asked on their community blog in a post that announced their new deal with Twitter, “…what if we take that to the next level?”
The next level, according to Microsoft, means indexing the entire public Twitter stream. Now, not only will users get Ryan Seacrest’s opinion on Paula Abdul, but perhaps their neighbor’s as well. Microsoft’s beta of the new Bing Twitter search is already available for y'all to play with, and results show up in two ways:
- Search a topic and watch the Tweets roll in real-time, just like in a regular Twitter search
- Search a topic and click "See more Tweets about..." to be redirected to a page full of related Tweets. Within that page you can change the order to "Best Match" which rearranges Tweets based on the number of followers
Additionally, Microsoft claims you won’t see any of your tweets if you've protected or deleted them, and tweets don’t last more than 7 days in the index.
RT @Google, #Google, #ZOMG
Google has been surprisingly less specific about what it’s going to mean now that they too can include Twitter’s feed in their search results. In a short blog post by Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, she simply writes:
…we are very excited to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results. We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, and we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months.
A pretty anti-climactic tag along, if you ask us. But then again it is Google, and Microsoft has been equally cryptic about its inclusion of Facebook data which could be the one differentiating factor in this great race for data. Whether or not it will put them in the lead or have the exact opposite effect, remains to be seen.
Ryan’s Sadness and Kanye’s Grave
We don’t need to get into why including a massive amount of real-time results in search engines as big as Bing and Google is beneficial. Twitter’s success speaks volumes to how dependant we’ve become on second to second information. Unfortunately, it’s alerted us to a bunch of really useless mumbo jumbo as well. Take, for instance, the top trending topics on Twitter right this minute:
- Nick Griffin
- Windows 7
Look at poor little Windows 7, all the way at the bottom there. Beat out by a lack of punctuation, British politicians and misspellings. And let’s not forget the number one trending topic yesterday—“RIP Kanye”—which sent the entire Twittersphere into a temporary panic, much like Michael Jackson’s passing. Thankfully we had search engines like Google and Bing to verify that Mr. West is still alive and well.
But now that the lines between search engines and Twitter are considerably blurred, how will we separate the cream from the crap? Microsoft ordering results by number of followers is certainly an attempt to cut out the junk, but who says someone with a small number of followers won't have something relevant to say?
One Big ?
Microsoft doesn't say whether Twitter searches will be shown outside of a dedicated section of Bing. Likewise, we have no idea how Facebook will be treated. But we can already imagine the loads of people who will want to opt out of such results, and, if you take a gander at that trending list up there just once more, we think it'll be for good reason.
There's a lot of really good information on Twitter but there's also an incalculable amount of garbage. Perhaps Google is making a smart move by not elaborating just yet on the details of their new integration.
As we wait patiently for Google to do so, and for Microsoft to address issues like privacy and opting out, let us know what you think of the whole sitch. Is this integration going to change our search lives for the better, or are these entities better left separated?