paidContent - The Inside Word: Why Real-Time Search Is Overrated

This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.
The Inside Word is a weekly feature that looks at industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at digital-media companies.

Poster: Daniel Tunkelang

Blog name: The Noisy Channel

Company/Title: Chief scientist of enterprise search firm Endeca

Backstory: Tunkelang was taken aback by the extensive coverage in the blogosphere of last week’s launch of two real-time search engines—Collecta and CrowdEye. CrowdEye promises a better way to search Twitter, while Collecta claims to have information in its results that is more up-to-the-second than those of its competitors.

Blog entry: “Yes, recency / freshness is certainly a concern in information seeking,” Tunkelang writes. “But its not the only one, and I doubt its the dominant one. Moreover, the dismissal of web search engines as if their index contents are ancient history is preposterous. Search for “Iran election” on Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) or Bing, and you see a lot of current news. I suppose Twitter offers more recently generated bits, but the main virtue there is not the immediacy-rather, its the social nature of the content.”

Postcript: In a follow-up conversation via e-mail, we asked Tunkelang if he thought there would ever be value in a real-time search engine. “I do see value in fresh content, but the ‘real-time’ cases feel more like chat than like search,” he says. “Search is a vague concept, but it at least should involve looking for information rather than just participating in a conversation.” He provided an example: A top-trending search topic in Twitter earlier this week was the film Transformers 2. Twitter’s search engine returned a set of repetitive (and “content-free”) results, while a date-sorted Google blog search was more informative and wasn’t “that far behind real time.”

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By Joseph Tartakoff