Twitter adding ‘Discovery Engine’ to interface

2 Apr 2009

The fast-growing social-media site Twitter is adding a new feature that evolves search in such a way that users can find tweets without leaving the page they are on, as well as seeing what the most topical subjects being tweeted are.

The service is also adding in a Trends feature, which highlights issues that are being talked about at any one time.

Writing in the official Twitter blog, co-founder Biz Stone said: “Currently, a small subset of Twitter users are trying this new search feature in the sidebar of their Twitter homepage. When you do a search, you don’t go to another page, the relevant tweets instantly show up where you’d expect them to – right on your home page where tweets love to be.

“This way of experiencing search is aligned with Twitter’s simple approach. By default, the tweets you see on your homepage are from sources of information that you have curated over time – in other words, the accounts you chose to follow. When you search, you’re asking for any tweets that contain the word or phrase you’re interested in right now.”

Stone said that other new features will be added to the design. For example, if there’s a search you want to do on a regular basis, you can save the search and place the word or term permanently in your side bar for easy access.

“So, if you want to know what people are saying about the city you live in, the products you use, or just something weird, it becomes a link on your homepage.”

Stone added that Twitter Search will be an engine for discovering what is happening right now, but won’t necessarily be a box and a button.

“Trends are words or phrases being referenced with more frequency, suggesting that something interesting might be happening. When you click on a trend link, you can read the tweets and find out what’s up. Trends is in beta – but it has potential.

“We are loving this implementation of Twitter Search and the technical infrastructure to support it is mostly in place. We’ll gather a bit more feedback from our test group and then get these features out to everyone as soon as possible,” Stone said.

By John Kennedy