Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Topsy Hands Out Real-Time Search Widgets

Real-time search engine Topsy today is launching customizable widgets for publishers to display topical tweets.

The company’s “social modules” dynamically populate with fresh content on any topic.

So, for instance, a news organization could automatically input the tags associated with its articles into a module, and on each page it would show relevant tweets about similar topics (and not just lame redundant retweets of the article itself, like you often see).

Or a site could show a live-updating widget that displays its most tweeted articles that day. Publisher IDG is already using the modules on some of its sites.

Anyone can create a self-service module, and Topsy will offer premium features such as analytics and revenue-shared advertising. Content within the modules is automatically filtered for profanity and language preference.

You might ask why Topsy and its random blog widgets are important. For one thing, Topsy is among the few independent players remaining in real-time search, with OneRiot pivoting to focus on ads, and Ellerdale acquired by Flipboard. Twitter does have its own search service, but it stores only a week of tweets at a time.

Topsy organizes its index of eight billion tweets using social signals, such as figuring out which accounts on Twitter are influential and which tweeted links are important, something Google and Bing are only starting to do. That’s a change from the dominant PageRank mindset, where a parent domain carries a certain weight without differentiation for all the different people who have accounts on it, from influential authorities to spammers.

And while it’s true that few Web pages need any more widgets than they already have, prominent tech publishers like Business Insider and TechCrunch use Twitter sidebar widgets from PostUp (formerly TweetUp) that show a rotation of promoted accounts. A more timely and dynamic alternative like Topsy Social Modules might be more useful.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald