Google touts Twitter archive search as Microsoft plays catch up

Google has introduced a new feature that allows users to trawl the murky depths of public Twitter archives.

“With the advent of blogs and micro-blogs, there’s a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places — some famous and some local. Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted,” Google project manager Dylan Casey wrote in an official blog post.

“[So], starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and ‘replay’ what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter. To try it out, click ‘Show options’ on the search results page, then select ‘Updates.’ 

“The first page will show you the familiar latest and greatest short-form updates from a comprehensive set of sources, but now there’s a new chart at the top. In that chart, you can select the year, month or day, or click any point to view the tweets from that specific time period.”

Casey noted that replaying Tweets would help users “explore any topic” that people previously discussed on Twitter.

”All of us are just beginning to understand the many ways real-time information and short-form web content will be useful in the future, and we think being able to make use of historical information is an important part of that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to play catch-up with Google by finally adding “real-time” Twitter results to Bing searches – a feature that the Mountain View-based company debuted in December 2009. 

“Bing pulls in social content generated on Twitter to surface the most relevant updates within seconds of a breaking news event. From people on the ground tweeting about what’s happening around them to users sharing interesting news links while browsing at home, the Twitterati can be significantly faster than traditional media outlets in picking up information on breaking events,” MS explained in a belated Bing blog post.

“Further, the Twitterati also picks up information that the traditional media outlets often ignore – such as the latest viral video being shared online. At Bing, we analyze what topics are generating the most interest on Twitter to bring you the latest and most interesting content.”