Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Are People Talking About Right Now?

In our daily travels around cyberspace, each of us, in our own way, tries to get a sense of what's happening right now - the big stories of the day; the hot topics.

If all you do is visit static pages then you're missing out on the Web's interactivity. In other words, the New York Times might provide you with important news headlines, but it doesn't give you a sense of what people are actually talking about.

There are two interesting tools for discovering the hottest topics of the moment, and they both involve searching through the thoughts that ordinary people are sharing.

First, go to the Twitter search engine main page. Not only can you search for keywords to see what people are saying about a given topic, but those little links underneath the search field are the "trending topics" of the moment (or, the most popular keywords currently being used). These trending topics are wonderful metrics. At this moment, "Natasha Richardson", "SXSW" (the South by Southwest Conference), and "March Madness" are the three most discussed phrases, which, living in the moment, seems pretty accurate of what people are talking about the most. Plus, to get a sense of historically popular trending topics, rather than only those which are popular at present, check out Twendly.

Second, wouldn't it be great to search through everyone's Facebook status messages? An application called Status Search on Facebook does just that. While some of you might be rolling your eyes at the thought that your friends' status messages might possibly be useful, consider how, for instance, during the presidential inauguration, there were over 600,000 messages that discussed the event, making it the most heavily active day in social media history. It's actually quite amazing how closely people's status mirrors what's happening in the world. I already know, using Status Search, that "American Idol" is consistently among the most posted phrases during the two hours each Tuesday night when it's broadcast.

It's really pretty fascinating. What's demonstrated is the real power of Internet Search as a means for tracking, not only the content of web pages, but also individual and collective behavior.

Google may soon need to update its algorithms to take such developments into account. Because the dialogue is often pretty telling.


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

By request, here's also a link for seeing the most searched for terms on Yahoo...

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

And, of course, a list og trending topics on Google...

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think searching the Facebook statuses of our friends is interesting--but more because I like to laugh at the funny statuses my clever friends type rather than as a way to keep tabs on what people are thinking.

Are you familiar with the application Status King? That's more my style, but you've made me curious enough that I'll have to check out Status Search.


At 12:13 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

Thanks for link, "Smilin_happy". I checked it out and you're right that, at the very least, Status King is a lot more fun than Status Search. Voting for your favorite Facebook status messages, and seeing what others have chosen, is really amusing! This app is like Digg for statuses.

Great stuff :-)


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