OneRiot unleashes a fresh take on Twitter searches

Thanks to its open API, sometimes it seems as if there are many ways to parse the Twitter tsunami as there are people actually using the service. That said, social-web search site OneRiot has turned its experienced attentions to the microblogging service, and the results -- launching today -- are promising for those seeking to track the viral spread of URLs through the Tweetosphere.

Twitter's own search capacities are becoming increasingly integral to the service, as evidenced by the new homepage design they're working on over there. Third-party sites offer search-based slices of profanity on Twitter (Twittourette, spectacularly NSFW) or mental states on Twitter (twistori) or recurring keywords on Twitter (Tinker and Sideline, both launched earlier this week) or what you will. OneRiot's unique angle is to examine which URLs people are sharing in real time, learning from their tweets what it is people are talking about from moment to moment.

The service already keeps a close eye on Facebook, Digg and similar sites, and now it watches Twitter, filtering for tweets that include a URL. OneRiot general manager Tobias Peggs says that practically speaking, their URL index refreshes every 35 seconds. Search results show up to ten of the most current instances of relevant tweets, formatted in the customary headline-excerpt-link style and noting how many have tweeted it and who started the ball rolling.

As I write this, OneRiot tells me that "G20" (the economic summit), "Easter" (the oncoming holiday), "Wolverine" (the freshly pirated movie), "iPod" (the queenly gift) and "Lady Gaga" (the shrieking pop tart) are among the morning's trending topics. Digging in, I'm given ten fresh URLs related to the keyword, each tweeted at least once.

It's interesting to note that a great number of re-tweeted URLs are from mainstream news organizations -- something that those who fret about the decline of newspapers might want to take a closer look at.

OneRiot's search could in that respect be highly useful to any outfit that wishes to know who's talking about it online -- or at least on Twitter. (A fine example: We at Betanews know who tweets headlines from our @Betanews account, but whoever @Chimerica and @Sureba67 and @movamedia and @ladyreporter and @Dimitri_Knight and @1uk3 are, to name just a few, thanks for tweeting about us also. We're glad to know our friends.)

Indexing the URLs rather than the tweets themselves also provides some insurance, according to Peggs, against spam links that too often travel on Twitter disguised as is.gd links, TinyURLs, or other addresses compacted by one of the various services that do so. OneRiot does the work of unpacking those before indexing, thus understanding that (for instance) tinyurl.com/d8t6re equals bit.ly/v4sXE equals www.engadget.com/2009/04/01/president-obama-offers-ipod-to-the-queen-of-england/, and knocking down attempts to misdirect readers to spam or malware sites in the process.

The service rolls out Thursday under its own URL; Peggs says that OneRiot hopes to collect input from users and to eventually roll Twitter searching into the main site's functionality. (The ten-items-or-less restriction may one day be listed as well.) It's anyone's guess how long the four-month-old OneRiot will stand alone in its unique search capability, considering the velocity of the current Twitter gold rush, but if you're just dying to know what they're saying up there in the Tweetosphere, your search has arrived.

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