The blogosphere has discussed, at length, how real-time search is being affected by things like Twitter and Facebook. With status updates coming out at a totally unprecedented pace, we’re able to get more information more quickly than ever before.
We used to say that about the rest of the Internet, but social networking has lead many of us to talk as if the rest of the blogosphere and Web has become some antiquated dinosaur of information sharing.
The truth, however, is that the rest of the Web is still ridiculously fast as a source for information – if you know where to look. All those tweets and Facebook updates? They tend to come from stories or notices on the rest of the Web. But for breaking news in more than a couple of sentences, the Web is the dominant presence by far.
That’s what OneRiot, a real-time search for the whole Web, is taking advantage of. Instead of tracking what people are saying, as Twitter search engines like Scoopler do, it tracks what they’re talking about.
The OneRiot team describes what they’re trying to do quite well
When you search for a popular subject using other realtime search engines, your search results will show you a stream of chatter happening around that subject. Essentially, those search results are saying, “Your query is a hot term! Lots of people are talking about it!” However, what can be hard to find there is the actual source of the chatter – the news stories, blog posts or Web pages that started it all. If you were to search for that same popular subject using OneRiot, you’d find the actual content people are talking about – search results that say, “Check out this page, or blog, or video! Lots of people are talking about it!
OneRiot isn’t a traditional search engine, nor does it pretend to be. It’s not a place to find static information, or look up something interesting; it’s a place to find out who won the big game, or who got voted off of American Idol (not that I love that show or anything”¦). Information is sorted by timeliness as much as relevance, meaning newer material, even if it’s not the most complete source of information on a given topic, rises to the top.
You use OneRiot like you would any other search engine: go to the site and enter a search term. You can search either Web or Video (which is smart, because videos tend to be more viral than any other medium), and pick almost any topic. Underneath the search bar, there’s a list of “Trending Topics,” which tracks some of the most popular stories at the moment.
Once you’ve searched, you’ll see a list of results, formatted to help you figure out what to see. The results page gives you a headline, a snippet of the page, as well as a few useful “real-time” tips: who shared it first, when it was most recently shared, and how many people have shared it. OneRiot gets these numbers from Twitter and Digg, as well as a number of popular OneRiot apps, like the Shareaholic plugin for Firefox. You can see, at a glance, how many people are talking about a story, and even expand the window to see what they’re saying.
You can see the results truly in real-time, or choose to see the “Pulse,” which lends more importance to popular stories, by clicking at the right side of the top of the results. Either see things as they’re coming in, or see what’s hot (and still pretty brand-new). On the right side of the page is the “Most Shared Today” list, sort of like the Digg frontpage. It’s got five hot stories, and is itself a great way to figure out what’s going on.
As events unfold and stories develop, it can often be hard to track what people are talking about, and what is being said about important issues. OneRiot sifts through it for you, and lets you tap into the whole popular Web to see what’s really breaking news.
How do you find what’s popular and breaking on the Web?
Photo: Ben Sutherland