Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Google Realtime: Finding threaded conversations on Twitter as well as year old tweets

Shortened link for this post is


UPDATE 7 July 2011: Google Realtime is no longer with us. Initially it seemed to be temporarily offline while under-bonnet tinkering happened and it was assumed it would be hooked up with Google+ however it now seems that Google is no longer accessing Twitter's stream as the deal ended on 2 July 2011. This isn't great.


1. Google Realtime
2. Storify
3. Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive
4. Library of Congress

1. Google Realtime is probably intended to let people watch tweets as they happen but a nice feature is that it can "re-run" older tweets from as far back as April 2010. I found tweets from me / sent to me back in 18 April 2010 by searching for both jobrodie and @jobrodie

An example or two

BoraZ, from 25 April 2010
"Yes, @JoBrodie I tell new Twitterers to import tweets into FriendFeed as the only reliable way to search old tweets years later."
We've agreed this is probably no longer true as FriendFeed's search is a bit unpredictable.

@MarkSpoff tweeted this on 7 October 2010
"@JoBrodie recording of ambient and other found sound is old as hills. Only now are the social tools there that make it something all can do."

@EvidenceMatters tweeted this, on 1 April 2011, about a 'hack your own sous-vide' event.
"@JoBrodie It was very interesting & it was good to meet diverse ple who attended. @mriemenschneidr was fund of experience/knowledge."
picked from this selection of tweets from Google Realtime's sesarch.

Threaded conversations
I think the bit that's really interesting about Google Realtime is its capacity to capture threaded conversations, even including people that you might not have been conversing with directly, but who were still contributing a conversational aside to the topic as a whole.

From @EvidenceMatters tweet above, the Realtime search results also have a 'Full conversation link' which gives this result.

A longer version is the result of a search for a conversation happening earlier today among @xtaldave @diamondlightsou and @clsresoff. The range of tweets can be found here, and selecting one of the 'Full conversation' links results in this thread, also shown below (in miniature).

I wonder if people will use Storify to capture tweets now that "What the hashtag" is no longer with us.

2. Storify and other curating tools
Storify lets you compile tweets (and other units of information, eg photos from Flickr, bits and bobs from Google, posts to Facebook groups - anything public basically) and compose a story around them. I suppose it's feasible to collect tweets as they come in, on a topic or with a hashtag, and save them as a Storify story.

"The New Curators: Weaving Stories from the Social Web" - this blog has a section on Storify and explains its use well. A nice example of the sort of use I'd put Storify to has been demonstrated by @kristinalford working with tweets from the #onsci tag.

"Onsci: Telling Better Science Stories" curated by Kristin Alford

I liked Storify the minute I saw it, it's very intuitive, has a nice interface and is easy to play around with. It takes a wee while to get your beta invite once you've registered so if you want to play around with something instantly, try the similar Keepstream. Here's an example I've just created. I prefer the interface and options given in Storify but this isn't bad. I didn't manage to get anywhere with Curated.By however.

These tools, rather than letting you find threaded conversations, let you create them from disparate units - according to the New Curators blog post linked above Robert Scoble has used the term "atoms" of information, and described curators as "information chemists" ;)

3. The Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive
I've mentioned this before but I think it bears repeating. It doesn't let you find threaded conversations but it does let you see a random selection of your historic tweets - what's available will depend on when the archive crawled your tweets. My timeline has been visited six times over three years taking a snapshot of what was going on at the time it visited.

My tweets were first 'snapped' on 23 December 2008, and then another five times since.*/ - on the first crawl I was following and followed by 66 people and had made 333 tweets. Here I am again on 21 September 2009. Unfortunately it doesn't let you go back and forwards in your timeline as you can (to a limited extent) on Twitter itself.

It's as if all your tweets were packed up at the end of the day into slim volumes but a year later you were only allowed to look at one of them... still, it's interesting to see some old tweets.

4. Library of Congress
The US Library of Congress has been given all public tweets, by Twitter, since 2006 - but I don't know know if it's possible for people to access this database yet, or ever. The linked blog (Twitter's) refers to Google Replay which is what's now known as Google Realtime, having previously spent time as Google Updates.

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