Twitority fires a first shot at authority search on Twitter

Updated on December 30, 2008

Loic Le Meur’s kick-start yesterday of a storm of discussion about his call for a means of searching Twitter posts by authority has just borne some early fruit in the shape of Twitority.

Twitority is a search tool that lets you search Twitter posts and then filter the search results by authority.

As Loic tells the story, Twitority came about overnight through Jon Wheatley’s need to scratch an itch (that’s my very quick summary of Loic’s post). And a good scratch it is!

As you might tell from the screenshot above, there’s a passing visual resemblance to Technorati – the tool for finding blog posts based on authority – which I suspect is deliberate: that familiar and warm green colour will no doubt be reassuring.

And so I’ve been following the online discussion with interest, and with a slight sense of bemusement at the strong and negative sentiment expressed by many about the whole notion of any kind of authority metric with Twitter.

My £0.02: I’d welcome the option of being able to filter my Twitter search results this way, as long as it is an option, ie, another choice that I can take or leave as I please (the way some are protesting, you’d think this is how all Twitter searches will become).

Here’s a case in point for me.

The first word that came to mind to use as a search term in Twitority was Podpress (fresh in my mind as I’ve just posted about that topic).

So I searched for it.

Twitority gave me five pages of results, totalling 50 individual Twitter posts (tweets). That’s with the default setting as ‘any authority,’ similar to Technorati’s default.

If I set that to ‘a lot of authority,’ I get zero results. If I select ‘a little authority,’ Twitority gives me five results.

All good. But what I need to know now is how is authority being defined (and by whom) and, thus, ‘any,’ ‘a lot’ and ‘some.’ Once I know that, I can make my own judgments on how much would I trust a tool like Twitority to provide credible (and trusted) data upon which I could or may make decisions.

It’s early days, though, so I certainly don’t expect something with all the polish right now.

But what a great beginning!

[Update: Dec 30] Another contender to provide authority filtering in Twitter search results is Twithority which launched not long after Twitority did.

Twithority looks a bit more polished and presents its results in twin panes as you can see from the screenshot, showing search results by rank and by time.

I tried Twithority using the same search term (‘podpress’) as I did with Twitority. It produces far more results over a longer period than Twitority does, which makes it a more appealing tool to me.

But there’s no method of filtering as Twitority offers, not is ‘rank’ defined or explained.

Still, it’s another choice.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

    • neville

      That's a possibility. Also a possibility that the online discussion that's ongoing won't cease and there will certainly be no agreement on the value or otherwise of authority search for Twitter, never mind a definition of 'authority' itself.

      I wonder if searching Twitority for 'twitority' would overload their servers…

  1. Chris_Hambly

    Of course we are familiar with Google using "authority" to depict a site which is considered authoritative on a subject as a result of other people (sites) linking to it, which are on-topic, and age of domain and a few other bits and bobs. It is not a bad method though very very flawed. Of course 90% of surfers don't move pass the "authority" so it becomes ummm important.

    This method of course could not be used for twitter as there is no such aggregation or measuring other than numbers of followers or updates, @replies.

    There is though significant posting of data and human preferences that should someone clever be able to "harness it (hehe) they'd open a gold mine (ignoring privacy concerns that is).

    • neville

      Maybe we just realize that Twitter is a simple tool that isn't designed to do all or many of the things so many people talk about wishing it did do. Unless someone, somewhere, evolves it somehow to do those things. Or get close to it. That's what I think Twitority is right now.

      No one says anyone has to use it.

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