Is Twitter (Already) the New Google?

by Jerod Morris on January 4, 2010

twitter google

I know what you’re thinking: Oh no, not another Twitter-is-the-greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread post.

In response, I will only say that I promise it’s not. We already know that Twitter is awesome, so why be redundant?

And I also know something else that you are probably thinking: Twitter is not even in the same stratosphere as Google when it comes to the volume of complementary web applications Google provides.

And in response, I say that I know and understand this. My purpose this morning is not to compare Twitter to everything the term “Google” now encompasses, but rather to what “Google” originally encompassed: quickly searching for information on the web.

Last night, I experienced what I believe to be a landmark moment in my personal evolution as a web user.

With the NFL regular season wrapped up on the NFC side last night, I wanted to write a quick post on Midwest Sports Fans outlining the NFC playoff bracket. To do this, I needed to know who the #1 seed Saints and #2 seed Vikings would be playing in the divisional round after this weekend’s Wild Card round.

Yes, despite being a lifelong NFL fanatic with an encyclopedic mind for sports scores, stats, moments, etc., I could not remember this very simple piece of NFL playoff information. Believe me, I was very disappointed in myself.

Now, normally when I need a quick bit of information like this I immediately head to Google. I typically would have typed in something very specific like “are wild card round winners re-seeded for divisional round of NFL playoffs” in hopes of finding my answer.

However, for the first time, I instinctively went to Twitter first and posed the question of my followers.


And literally less than 30 seconds later, I had two responses providing me with my answer. (If you’re interested, the remaining teams are re-seeded for the divisional round games, with the #1 seed playing the lowest remaining seed.)

A few minutes later, I tweeted the following:

@docksquad33 @timcary Thanks. That’s what I thought. Wanted to confirm. Amazing how Twitter is fastest way to do it.

And it’s true. I was amazed at the fact that I instinctively went to Twitter for this information when the last decade or so or web use has conditioned my instincts to think Google.com whenever I need a piece of information.

Even more amazing is the fact that I use Google Chrome almost exclusively now, which makes it even easier to perform Google searches. (You just type your search into the URL bar.)

Now, I understand that Twitter is better for “quick hit” information like this than for longer-form information. And it is also true that reliability and accuracy of information is a concern.

But the majority of the searches I perform are for such quick hit info and why would I be following someone if I did not trust the reliability of the information they tweet about?

Just as I would not go to a website that I found to be dispensing erroneous information, I would unfollow someone consistency tweeting info that turned out to be fasle.

So I’m not really sure that either of these arguments can wholly counter the hypothesis posed in the headline of this post. Maybe Twitter really is becoming the new Google, at least in terms of how we seek out short, “easy” answers to questions.

And while we are on the subject Twitter, there was a terrific article posted by David Carr of the New York Times on January 1st. It is simply titled “Why Twitter Will Endure” and makes a very compelling case not only for why Twitter has experienced such a rapid rise, but why it is built to become a piece of the web’s infrastructure that will live in on as Web 2.0 eventually becomes Web 3.0, 4.0, and beyond.

Some time soon, the company won’t say when, the 100-millionth person will have signed on to Twitter to follow and be followed by friends and strangers. That may sound like a MySpace waiting to happen — remember MySpace? — but I’m convinced Twitter is here to stay.

And I’m not alone.

“The history of the Internet suggests that there have been cool Web sites that go in and out of fashion and then there have been open standards that become plumbing,” said Steven Johnson, the author and technology observer who wrote a seminal piece about Twitter for Time last June. “Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing, and plumbing is eternal.”

Really? What could anyone possibly find useful in this cacophony of short-burst communication?

Well, that depends on whom you ask, but more importantly whom you follow. On Twitter, anyone may follow anyone, but there is very little expectation of reciprocity. By carefully curating the people you follow, Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people in their respective fields, whose tweets are often full of links to incredibly vital, timely information.

I highly encourage you to read the article. Whether you are a luddite when it comes to Twitter, or are already tweet-obsessed and searching for confirmation that you are not wasting your time, it is a great, informative read.

Then once you’re done digesting Carr’s words, stop back here and provide your thoughts about the question posed in the headline.

Is Twitter already becoming the new Google (at least in terms of how we seek out information online)?

I’m very interested in finding out whether I am alone in using Twitter for what I formerly went almost exclusively to Google for, or if this a growing trend.

[Twitter / Google image credit: VentureBeat.com]

**********

Jerod Morris is a blogging and social media junkie who helped found How-to-Blog.tv so he’d have a repository for all of the blogging and social media information constantly swimming around in his head.

When he’s not blogging here, Jerod is the managing editor for both Midwest Sports Fans and Corporate Compliance Insights, as well as an avid user of StumbleUpon (jrod4040), Digg (jrod4040), and Twitter (@jerodmsf).

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Derick Schaefer January 4, 2010 at 9:45 am

Jerod, you pose a great question in this post. I think the key point you make is that not all search is the same. Your question was almost the type you’d text or email a friend but Sunday night probably not the most appropriate. More importantly, we’ve all been in a search engine looking for that type of info only to get a hit with the same answer from 2007 because it had good SEO.

I think what is important for both end users and site owners alike is to begin to look at social media sources as an alternative for search and related traffic. Google is going to continue to dominate for the foreseeable future but it is refreshing to see information from Twitter, Digg, and other sources provide value when you are searching and net new traffic when your site/blog has the right answer.

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jerod-morris January 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

I just think it goes to show that not all Internet searches now will compel people to hop over to Google or type their search into search box of their browser. With so many people using Tweet Deck and Twitter Apps for their phone, I think we’ll see more and more people just saying there and posing questions of their followers, obviously depending on how in-depth of an answer they need. And even a subtle shift in this kind of search could be significant because think of how many Google searches are done looking for information/answers that could be provided in 140 characters or less. I have no numbers on these, but I’d think it’s at least 20-25% if not much more.

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matt-lawrence January 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

I admit at first I thought Twitter was a fad just like the Automobile and the Internet, but finally accepted that just like the aforementioned it is here to stay. I realized this when I performed a search on Google and recent tweets showed up in the search engine results. What does this mean? well for one thing, now people who don’t know what twitter is will be able to get information from it unknowingly, just by doing something they have already been trained to do. Find information using Google.

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hannah-newlin January 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

Twitter first started out with the intention of using it for group text messaging. It makes sense if you are in you local city and are trying to find a good restaurant to simply send out a fast group text message to your friends that live in the area. After all, people are the ultimate resource for quick information. The Internet has just made it possible for us to access people that aren’t in our immediate circle in order to acquire new information.

All that to say… with the explosion of Twitter and its ability to reach far beyond simple group text messaging with those that you already know, it only makes sense that it would become a ready source for quick information. I do think, Jerod, you make an excellent point that reliability isn’t going to be a guarantee, but then again, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet either. We all have a personal responsibility to credit or discredit what we choose to believe.

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Jim Jones January 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

I’ve often considered Delicious part of search arsenal and Twitter is now included in this. Google for broad scoped searches, Delicious when I want to see the most popular sites for a specific search term, and Twitter to find where the latest in news.

http://jimasks.me/if-you-knew-for-sure-heaven-and-hell-existed-would-you-change-how-you-lived

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Portable crusher September 10, 2010 at 3:12 am

The twitter is the new site that we share our story, we want to use it when we would spare our time. Google is my homepage, so i think these two not conflict.

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