Summize, a Twitter search engine

If you use Twitter the way I do, you probably struggle to stay up with the stream of messages that come your way. Summize may offer a solution. It’s a new search engine for Twitter posts, and it appears to be facile and robust.


The service’s “About Us” section describes its mission as “to highlight the topics and attitudes expressed within conversational media.” The site pulls the posts from Twitter’s public timeline and gives a number of search options. For instance, you can:

You can also use a dropdown menu to do all of that. Plus, you can search for posts in 18 languages, and the site makes it easy to post your search results on Twitter.

Via @steverubel, about a week ago.

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Social networking trends: new players for 2008

Update, March 20, 2008: Joining Dots took the data presented below and put it in graph form, along with further analysis. See the entry Social Networks Long Tail.

top-social-networks-feb.pngRecent research from the web analytics firm Compete turns up some interesting information about the popularity of various social networking sites. Compete’s comparison of social networking traffic from February 2008 and February 2007 shows dramatic growth in up-and-comers like Ning (4803% change) and Twitter (4368%). LinkedIn also experienced a hefty spike in usage (729%). (Click image for the chart showing comparisons by social network.)

Meanwhile, MySpace is still the top social network, but usage actually decreased by 1 percent. Facebook, the No. 2 social network, grew by 77 percent between February 2007 and February 2008, an indication that Facebook’s popularity may be leveling off (as previously suggested on this very blog).

(Hat tip to Jonathan’s blog.)

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Twitter: oh, the inanity

Leave it to Mashable to find some middle ground between all the Twitter love so evident during SXSW Interactive and the anti-Twitter haterade that’s spilling all around the blogosphere. Whether you believe Twitter is the ultimate in sharing important info in a timely, telegraphic fashion, or you think it’s an utter waste of time, Mashable’s Stan Schroeder has a message for both camps, and it is the most reasonable takes on Twitter I’ve read to date:

twitter.pngTwitter is popular precisely because it does not have a lot of features and options. The idea is for it to be simple, and tweets – since they were initially conceived as notifications of what you’re doing – weren’t supposed to carry any weight. Twitter is basically an omnidirectional instant messaging system whose advantage is the lack of management: you don’t really have to care who reads your tweets, and you don’t really have to reply.

If there’s one thing Twitter has going for it, it’s simplicity. With technology, simplicity and ease of use is usually a good thing. I also like the lack of management aspect. That makes it a difficult tool for management types (like me) who would love to harness Twitter’s power for instant communication to our audiences.

But Twitter is also pleasingly inane, and that is another reason why I like it. I agree with Schroeder when he says:

Personally, I consider all Twitter messages to be completely irrelevant, and I expect from all my personal friends as well as business partners to use some more reliable and better suited means of communication when the message is important or when they expect me to actually react. “I’ll be around Starbucks at 2” – cool, I might show up and I might not show up. If you really needed me there, you would have called.

One commenter on the Mashable post notes that Twitter is a useful tool for what he calls “personal newscasting.” That’s a useful term for it.

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Saturday morning coffee, music, multitasking, social media brain dump

It’s late on a sleep-in Saturday morning. I’m sipping the last of the morning pot of coffee, listening to the mellow, dreamy songs of an indie/electronica band from Osaka called <a

  • href=””>Water Fai* (which suits my mood perfectly), and casually multitasking — catching up on personal and work email, Twitter, RSS, and various blogs and websites. I’m in no rush. This is one of those rare lazy days when I have nowhere to be.

    So, I think I’ll blog about some of the social media stuff on my mind and in my inbox/feeds/etc. For instance:

    • How Twitter can add value. Yesterday, I and some co-workers from Missouri S&T attended the Missouri Association of Publications conference (where our alumni magazine won an award — huzzah!). One of the sessions I attended was about convergence journalism, led by a faculty member of the Missouri School of Journalism’s convergence program. Co-worker (and co-tweeter) Mindy also attended. She’s our department’s go-to social media person. Anyway, one of the storytelling tools students in that program use is Soundslides, which can be used to create audio slideshows. I made a note to check it out when I got back, but Mindy beat me to it and tweeted about it yesterday. I responded, and Brad Ward joined in on the conversation with a link to a nice presentation he made using Soundslides. Then he referred me to a blog post of his from last October about using the tool, with links to three or four other examples. All of this knowledge-sharing via Twitter, in a matter of minutes. Nice.
    • ideasonideas relaunches with a redesign. “The new ‘look,'” explains the site’s Eric Karjaluoto in a post about the relaunch, “represents both a change in direction and a bit of a revised mandate.” Eric says he wants the blog “to be a great resource for those who create communications and continually work to do so more effectively. With the volumes of content out there, I hope that you’ll find your time at ideasonideas helpful and worthwhile.” If the first post since the redesign is any indication, this one might be reading from time to time.
    • There’s a New Conversation is a month-old blog exploring the impact of the book The Cluetrain Manifesto 10 years after its release. (Has it really been 10 years?)
    • Nominations are now open for the EduStyle Awards. Go there and nominate your favorite educational websites. Winners will be honored at the eduWeb Conference in Atlantic City, N.J., in July.
    • mixx has a group for social media mavens. So, all you social media mavens out there, check it out. (I did not join, because a.) I’ve got too many social networks as it is and b.) I fear I’m not enough of a maven.) Tweet via @fsmedia.

    * Water Fai’s style is along the lines of Blonde Redhead and Asobi Seksu, but mellowed like a good shiraz.

    Now playing: Water Fai – Round Pool
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  • Question of the day: Should universities tweet?

    Last November, we set up a Twitter account for our university and mildly publicized the fact on our Name Change Conversations blog. But we haven’t done much with it.

    twitter.pngAt this point, we have 11 followers, including myself and a couple other communications staffers, and we’ve updated eight times. I haven’t yet worked with our enrollment management team to inform prospective students of the site, and we haven’t notified our alumni through our traditional communications vehicles (email and the alumni magazine).

    So, it’s been a very low-key campaign — if you could call it that.

    I haven’t found any examples of other universities using Twitter for marketing, pr or external communications purposes.

    This morning, I asked the Twittersphere how university comms/PR/marketing folks might be able to use this tool, and have gotten some interesting responses. Here are a few of them:

    fcmartin3rd suggests that campuses use Twitter for “inspirational messages; connection with high schoolers; following thought leaders; reminders; pedagoguery!”

    amandachapel says, “there’s very little value here. Besides, why would any org want to hold an open meeting on a lawless freeway?”

    toster tweets: “I can see universities Twittering for comms, but little else. Even then, I would expect it to be only partially adopted.”

    vargasl suggests: “What about twittering events at school? Gaining prospective student interest… ” (That’s how she handled the Oscars on Sunday night, live-twittering while watching E!)

    You can keep track of the conversation on my Twitter page. But I’d also like to hear from you readers, too. I know some of you see little value in this tool, and I know others of you who use it regularly as a personal/semi-professional tool but not necessarily as an official representation of your school.

    So, let’s hear all sides on the matter.

    How could Twitter be incorporated in a college/university communications strategy?

    Also, if you know of any universities currently using Twitter, please let me know so I can see how they’re doing.

    Leave your comments below or, if you’re on Twitter and want to keep it to 140 characters or fewer, drop a Tweet to

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    Twitter nearing 1 million users

    In January, the Twitter Facts blog predicted Twitter would have 1 million users by April 1, 2008. But it looks like Twitter’s growth was underestimated. Twitter Facts now revises the estimate to 1 million users by March 1. Follow the solid line.


    Via Steve Rubel (in the form of a tweet, appropriately).

    Any Twitter users out there who want to stay in touch? Visit my Twitter profile at and request to follow. I’ll return the favor.

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    Friday Five: sick day edition

    Second sick day in a row. Bleh. But lucky for you, dear reader, for I’m blogging like a feverish, cranky, congested, Sudafed-popping, Vicks Vap-o-Rub-slathered mad man.

    (Okay, maybe that Vap-o-Rub reference was TMI for y’all. Let’s move on.)

    1. Karine Joly celebrates three years of writing for University Business with her latest column about how colleges and universities are developing Facebook applications to better connect with students, alumni, prospective students, etc. On her College Web Editor blog, Karine is compiling a list of higher ed FB apps. If you’ve got one to add to the mix, get in touch with her.
    2. Twitterpacks is a cool way to meet fellow twits tweeters based on interest, communities of practice, or geography. It’s a wiki and simple to join. Discovered via Karine’s Friday list-o-links. Karine found it via Seth Meranda‘s post. If you tweet, you should sign up and run with the pack(s) of your choosing. (I always assumed Twitter users would be in flocks, but that would make too much sense.)
    3. DW offers a refreshing reminder that sometimes we learn the most from the students we work with. Thanks for that.
    4. 10 social media presentations — all posted on Slideshare and yours for the viewing. Looks like a good resource for social networking data. Via .edu Guru‘s Links of the Week (from last Friday).
    5. Phoenix rising. The University of Phoenix doesn’t even have a football team — or any sports team. But it does own the name on the football stadium where the New England Patriots and New York Giants will square off on Sunday for Super Bowl XLII. U of P spent $154 million in 2006 for the naming rights to the stadium. They hope to cash in on Sunday with a bevy of inquiries and the kind of national media exposure that money can’t buy only $154 million (plus a couple of Super Bowl ad spots) can buy. A drop in the bucket for the university’s owner, Apollo Group Inc., which generates annual revenues of nearly $3 billion. (Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education. A Chronicle staffer actually pitched this idea to me and suggested that “other colleges without athletics programs can apply the same strategy of advertising at major sports events to their advantage.” Somehow I doubt that many colleges without athletics programs invest as much in branding as Phoenix. But the story’s still worth a link.)

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