Real-Time Search Hailed as Google's Latest Game Changer

The world's biggest search-engine wows bloggers by adding a stream of live, up-to-the-second updates

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Google wasn't content merely to introduce a whole new way to shop in America on Monday. The world's biggest search-company also announced it was re-inventing its core business. Now when you search on the main Google page for any current topic, a new box showing the "latest results" springs up. The new feature is a real-time stream of content, continuously updated with links from news articles and blog posts, as well as short bursts of user-generated content from Twitter and FriendFeed. In the future, updates from Facebook and Myspace are also set to join the list. While the service has yet to be fully implemented, most bloggers were all agog, thrilling that Google had once again delivered a game-changer for the Web:

  • Runs (Faster) Circles Around the Competition Although Bing was arguably the first of the big three search engines to actually get a real-time search function up-and-running when it announced its partnership with Twitter in October, ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick says that Google's real-time function was worth the wait: "The new type of results are well-integrated, unobtrusive, diverse in contents and formatted simply. It appears to be a job very well done. It's hard to believe that neither Yahoo nor Bing have created an experience anywhere near as compelling."
  • Upstarts Bow Down Before It Similarly, Mashable blogger Adam Ostrow thinks Google's debut has spoiled any plans by the big social networks to concentrate on refining their own streaming-search functions: "With one sweeping stroke, Google has grabbed the lead in the real-time search space, and it appears that Facebook and Twitter have both conceded that they aren't going to outbuild Google when it comes to search. These are significant strategic decisions for all of those involved that will dictate much of where these companies head in the years to come."
  • Revolutionizes Journalism (and Our Perception of Time) At the Guardian, Mercedes Bunz recalls coverage of the mass-protests and subsequent violent government crackdown following the Iranian election, labeling it one of the first and best examples of journalists and citizens coming together to create "an archive of the present." She argues that Google's new product is so pivotal because it formalizes this process:
Until a short time ago our knowledge about the present was limited to personal context combined with a handy summary of the world affairs in the evening news or morning papers

We never knew much about the actual moment, while we could find detailed knowledge about the second world war in every library...

This archive of the present is a very powerful thing. It provides the public, with a more direct voice and it will change journalism profoundly because it adds another possibility to research - verifying real-time results will become an important issue.
  • Pushes Bloggers Into Overdrive At the African-American tech-focused blog Blackweb 2.0, Angela Conyers-Benton ponders how Google's "pretty cool and necessary" real-time search will affect the blogosphere: "What does the slick new feature really mean for content producers though? It seems like it may be a double edged sword. There is the possibility that you can gain more audience, if not directly then to your presence on social networks, which of course means you'll need to be on point in terms of your brand and content in these places. Then there is the other possibility that since it is real-time you may just get drowned out in the overflowing ocean of content that the addition of real-time provides. You'll likely have to produce more content, produce it quicker, and you certainly will have to be on point when it comes to writing headlines and tagging content."
  • Forget Real-Time, Personalized Search Is the Future Business Week's Douglas MacMillian acknowledges that real-time search is creating lots of ripples in the business and tech communities, but he thinks an even more profound watershed occurred below the surface: "Last Friday, Google quietly rolled out a feature which may have even greater impact on Web users -- though many are unlikely to notice. With something the company calls Personalized Search, Google will start showing different search results for different users, depending on which links they have clicked the most in the past. In theory this means that eventually, a car lover and a zoologist typing 'jaguar" into the search field will wind up with two different sets of search results." Danny Sullivanat Search Engine Land agrees: "In the long term, for those trying to measure the search face-off between Google and Bing, it's not real time search that's the major battlefield. Instead, it's personalized search that I think is far more important."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.