Real Time Search Engine, When Breaking News Isn’t Fast Enough

Why, you young whippersnappers, what do you need all this real time search for?! I remember when we had search engines like ALTAVISTA and HOTBOT! It took between four and six weeks to get a Web page into a search engine’s index and WE LIKED IT! And by the way: get off my lawn!

So, um, anyway, there’s a new search engine called Collecta that aims to result in real-time search results across the Web. It’s available at and like everything else in the universe it’s in beta.

From the front page you enter a search term. Your search results will appear in a constantly-reloading stream — everything from Twitter updates to news stories to blog comments to Flickr photos.

That’s the theory, anyway. In practice — or at least in my experiments — the Twitter updates tended to overwhelm everything else. Look for the “Search Options” arrow under your result page on the left nav. It’s your friend.

Collecta's Search Options

Collecta's Search Options

With this you can check the specific kinds of updates you want to get. If you leave Updates unchecked (maybe save that for another search?) It’ll be a lot easier to see all the OTHER real-time search results offered by Collecta.

I did a search for dinner because I knew it’d be innocuous and I’d get all kinds of results. Twitter does overwhelm the results, but when I turned those off for a minute I found stories from the BBC and from blogs (news stories and blog updates are actually available from the same checkbox, blogs appear to be indexed from RSS feeds as not all of them have the full article available), no comments, and a few photos from Flickr (my favorite was a gorgeous view from a restaurant in Waikiki.

(Note that I did not get any comments for this search. In other searches I did. The comments were less spammy than I was afraid they would be, many didn’t make much sense out of the context of the original blog post, and a few were hilarious.)

The snag to searching this engine is that it’s hard to tell what kind of search to run, because you’re searching 140-character updates in addition to full articles and blog entries. I wouldn’t use this as a research starting point. On the other hand, the fact that it constantly refreshes and that it searches a wide variety of places makes it ideal for tracking breaking news. The next time a governor does something I’ll stop here, sit back, and watch.

Categories: News

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