Twingly: A New Microblog Search Application

Earlier this month I wrote about Whostalkin, a beta search engine that focuses on finding content on social media sites and blogs.  It seems that the whole notion of expanding searches to social sites is gaining momentum. Today I’ve been experimenting with Twingly, from a Swedish company that bills it as “the first federated microblog search” engine.

You can find out more about it in this blog post, and here are my impressions.

According to the Twingly blog, which includes an unusual collection of word choices (such as “we keeped it”), Twingly is designed to search Twitter, Identi.ca and many other microblogging services. These include some European and Scandinavian services. It even searches Pownce, which has closed, but the folks behind Twingly kept an index of its content.

You can do Twingly searches from the application’s home page, or you can install a widget on a blog or web site. I found the application to deliver a lot of targeted Twitter tweets very quickly, but the most useful aspects of it are the natural language-based search features. If you’ve used the equivalents in Google, you’ll quickly come up to speed with these.

For example, if you want to search for tweets and other microblog entries posted since the beginning of this year, you would use this search syntax: since:2009-01-01 twingly. By using “until” instead of “since” you can search for results that came before the first of the year. Likewise, you can search for microblog posts sent to a particular user, or sent from one. To do this you just type from: or to: and the user’s name. You can find a list of the commands and what they do here.

One of the best uses I’ve found for Twingly is seeing what readers of my blog posts have to say about them when they don’t post directly in the comments. For example, I recently wrote a piece about open source resources for cloud computing. Kent Langley apparently liked the post enough to tweet about it, but he lamented the fact that I didn’t mention OpenQRM. That application right there–searching multiple microblogging services for off-the-cuff reactions to blog posts–will make Twingly a keeper for me.

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