track – Stay N Alive

Reason #552 to Be on FriendFeed: Real-Time Search

friendfeedI’ve talked in the past about how I read your blogs. I rarely subscribe through Google Reader any more – I read all of your blogs through FriendFeed. Therefore if you want me to read your blog, I strongly suggest taking the first step of importing it into FriendFeed. Well, if that weren’t reason enough, FriendFeed just gave you even one more reason to import your blog and other social data into their site: real-time search.

If you’ll look down in the lower-right sidebar of this blog, you’ll see an example of it in action – every mention of “realtime”, “real time”, “social”, “friendfeed”, “twitter”, “facebook”, or “Jesse Stay” anywhere on the web, at any time that has been imported into FriendFeed now appears real-time, as it’s happening.  Go ahead – change the search parameters to something like “earthquake”, or “iran”, or “michael jackson”.  You’ll quickly see the value of having such real-time, on-demand search at your fingertips.

FriendFeed is said to be getting ready to also release notifications, probably in the same way they do your other friend lists and feeds via e-mail and IM for the various search terms you’re trying to find.  As the terms come in real-time, you’ll receive them.  This is powerful stuff!

Over a year ago Twitter had a similar feature – they called it “track”, which they’ve recently re-introduced to developers via their API.  It was the main reason I joined and stuck with Twitter.  As soon as their competition was dead they removed it.  It looks as though FriendFeed has one-upped Twitter once again with this feature.

So if you haven’t already, go to FriendFeed, get an account, import all your Twitter and Facebook friends already on the service (you’ll find most of your active friends probably already are!), and start adding your blogs, Twitter feeds, facebook feeds, photos, videos, and more into your stream so they too can be indexed by this powerful search.  The web just got a whole lot more real-time, and FriendFeed just got a whole lot more powerful.

Track is Back! Steve Gillmor Rejoices

Twitter TrackerOne of the major reasons I joined Twitter over a year ago was the ability to easily subscribe to Tweets, based on search terms I sent over my cell phone or IM client.  Due to scaling issues and load on Twitter as they grew, Twitter removed that ability shortly after Scoble and I visited them last year.  Twitter called it “Track”.

It was simple functionality.  I send “track keyword” to 40404 on my mobile phone, and immediately any Tweet with that keyword would be sent straight to my mobile phone (or IM client if I had it set correctly in my preferences).  It was very useful.  For instance, if I wanted to know every happening at the time going on at Sundance here in Utah, I would simply “track sundance” and all those Tweets would be delivered to me, as they happened.  I could do the same with my name, my brand, or my favorite technologies.

Twitter may have removed that functionality last year, but just over a week ago, they finally released API methods to make the real-time searching of keywords and search terms available again via their limited streaming APIs available in Alpha right now.  The API method is conveniently called “track”.  On June 12, John Kalucki, developer behind the real-time streaming APIs Twitter is now providing developers described it on the Twitter developers mailing list as such:

“The /track resource allows searching the Firehose stream for a list of keywords. This resource may be a useful adjunct to the Twitter Search API. While the predicates are less powerful than the SearchAPI, results are streamed continuously and with low-latency. For common keywords, a more complete set of results can be delivered than is possible by polling the Search API. Consult the Streaming API documentation for limits and details:”

Put in simple terms, developers now have access to take a list of keywords for a specific Twitter user, and have Twitter deliver any Tweet that meets those search terms in real-time back to the developer’s app.  That means Push notifications via iPhone applications on the new iPhone 3.0 firmware are now possible, any company utilizing SMS can easily deliver terms via SMS again, and more.

Because the Streaming APIs are in limited Alpha, only certain developers will be allowed access, but I fully expect to see this integrated in the near future.  I expect to see this especially as the code solidifies and moves out of Alpha, into apps such as TweetDeck, Tweetie, and Seesmic Desktop.  Twitter users everywhere can rejoice, as their most requested and most favorite feature taken from Twitter has just been found.

Twitter Tracker logo courtesy NBC Tonight Show.