Cue The Future


"I'm living in the future, so the present is my past" -Kayne West’s relevance to Search Engines

Twitter’s foray into search (through last year’s acquisition of Summize) has been commented on by every pundit under the sun. Twitter Search is has proved the benefits of real-time search — namely quicker access to feedback, which gives the ability to respond and steer the person’s experience.

Businesses have found this useful, the limitations of real-time search (RTS) have kept it primarily out of consumer search habits. Twitter today could make a lot of money by sitting as the platform for feedback and service between businesses and consumers, but to justify their recently rumored $1B valuation, you can bet solving the limitations of real-time search (RTS) as it applies to consumer search is on their radar.

The big problems with RTS revolve around the inability to distinguish noise from signal in the short term. Just being the most recent doesn’t make you the most interesting, but it does make you more interesting. The hard problem to solve here is how to factor timeliness into the algorithm for search relevancy. Twitter Search currently understands timeliness, and understands the basics of how people are voting with their actions (although, trending topics is just scraping the top layer of something that needs rich click AND publish data to be interesting), but it doesn’t quite have the larger search algorithm game figured out. Twitter has to internally solve the problem of bringing in more standard search knowledge and expertise., a startup that shortens links for use in micro-updates, has developed an incredible (and timely) database on how many people are posting links, how many of those people are unique or simply reposting from someone else, and how many people are clicking them. That data could be very interesting to Twitter as a way to dig deeper on trending, but it could be even more interesting to someone who is trying to work real-time information into an existing search algorithm. Do we know any companies that are very concerned about making sure they are on top of the next innovation in search? Google comes to mind; Microsoft Bing should be paying attention too.

Twitter could benefit from bringing in house, but I don’t think they’d benefit as immediately from acquiring as Google or Bing would. Not that has to sell, but, they’ve only raised 2M, could likely get a large sticker price, and could get to help reshape a search service relied on by hundreds of millions of people. If I were BD at GOOG or MSFT, I’d be starting conversations.

Bonus: Twitter, I’m not just dishing out free BD advice to the big guys, you get some too! Buy or build a service similar to Blippr and automatically give feedback on products based on what people are saying on your service, then, license this rich “micro-review” data to companies like Amazon and RichRelevance.

Come see me speak, Oct. 6th in Sunnyvale

Digesting Twitter: Short Tips for Morning Catch-Up

Often I’ll find myself spending 20-60 minutes a day in a situation where I have some time to kill and my phone. Given the value I get from Twitter (breaking news and friend updates mixxed together) and the way I use twitter (not reading every tweet, just catching it when I can), I’ll often use this time to twitter.

Twitter is famous for cell phone use, but more for SMS – which is not my style; I use three tools:, TwitterBerry, and my mobile browser. Given that m.twitter doesn’t record where you where in the updates, visiting links as they look interesting and then going back and finding your place can be a real hassle.  I create a twitter digest. I go through and make an email draft of links that look good, notes i want to keep, or ideas I have. Here’s an example of yesterday morning’s digest:

jowyang: Quotable looks about half accurate for this thread 3 minutes ago…

apenny: Tyler Perry (20 Mill movie this weekend) is such a fabulous rags to riches tale.… (doesn’t display on blackberry? Wtf ?)

rycaut: I wax a bit surprised to OH people complaining about the nudity which I think says more about Americans than the filmmakers about 11 hours ago
rycaut: btw The Bank Job was quite good if not particularly surprising (not The Usual Suspects but a fun period crime caper) about 11 hours ago

Follow @garyvee @warriors @Pistachio?

–8pm last night–
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

As you can see, it’s mostly links, mixed in with notes about two films I want to see and a service I wanted to try but had yet to. I wanted to reply to some messages that I saw while making this digest, when that happened I switched to TwitterBerry (so as not to lose my place) and posted the reply. Then it’s simply an action of visiting these sites in order until something else needs to be done – if I get a chance to do something more productive, I email the unfinished list to myself for checking when I get back to my machine.

Creating this digest takes me 10-20 minutes depending on volume and interestingness of my friends, and it’s easy to make sure I see everything interesting tweeted over a period of time. Also, in case you’re wondering, the above digest represents 13 hours of activity.

About the Author

Tyler Willis is the Vice President of Business Development at Unified, which builds enterprise marketing technology for brands and agencies.

This blog is about how the future will affect technology, marketing, and the things we care about most. Learn more about Tyler.


Tyler is a featured speaker and instructor for The American Marketing Association, and is a popular speaker on topics related to social marketing and how technology is changing our lives.

Recent engagements:
- South by Southwest
- American Marketing Association
- TMP Directional Marketing Client Summit

Email for Speaking Requests.

Lightweight Update

I write infrequent (quarterly at most), semi-formal updates of what I'm doing and thinking.