As some blog readers know, I’m a big fan and user of Twitter.’  And, as a result of my constant use of the technology, I find that often I need to search out information that I originally saw posted via Twitter.’  As I’ve become more and more of a Twitter searcher I’ve realized a couple of things.

  • First, Twitter is an amazing resource for locating information on current events. If you, or the teens you work with, are interested in news and views on almost any topic, searching Twitter is likely to not only lead to links to news from major media outlets, but also first-hand accounts from people involved in a particular event.’ ‘  Of course, when reading postings on the site that are personal in nature, as opposed to coming from an established media source, the information might need to be evaluated more stringently than information gathered from library databases.’  However, this need to evaluate provides a perfect opportunity for teaching and discussing evaluation skills with teens.
  • Second, because Twitter authors often use text messaging language in order to fit their thoughts into 140 characters, search strategies have to be revised.’  For example, a few weeks ago I remembered that someone posted a Twitter message about a book I was interested in.’  I remembered what the book was about and I was pretty sure that the word “book” was used in the Twitter posting. However, I wasn’t sure what, if any, abbreviations were used.’  With a little bit of work I uncovered the Tweet (what Twitter messages are called) by using “bk” in my search.’  So, if librarians start to teach Twitter searching as a way to find information, then they also have to start to teach how to come up with effective searches for the technology. What a great way to have the chance talk about developing search strategies, keywords, and so on.

It seems to me that the information pool that Twitter is, is pretty undeniable. (And the pool will continue to grow.)’  You don’t have to be a Twitter user in order to search its posts. So, even if you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s very possible that you would find useful information about a current events topic of interest by searching the site.

You can try it by using Twitter Search. On Twitter Search you can do a basic search via the search box on the main page. But, if you click on the Advanced Search you’ll find options that make for a much more powerful Twitter search.’  Not only can you perform Boolean searches via the advanced search, but you can also search for postings by particular Twitter users and for posts to specific Twitter users.’  This is really useful when looking for something posted by a particular media outlet. For example, you can search for anything the New York Times (Twitter username nytimes) posted on the topic of gas prices.

Another useful feature of Twitter Search is that it’s updated in real-time. That means if there is an event going on that you and your teens want to read about as it happens, you can search it out and then leave the results page open on the computer.’  Every minute the search will update so that you can read posts as they are made.’  Imagine the discussions you might have with teens if they read up-to-the minute posts on Twitter about the launch of a new game console. (Believe me, people Tweet up-to-the minute reports on those kinds of events.)

Definitely check-out the possibilities of Twitter searching, and start to consider how this new information source can be integrated into your work with teens.’  It’s worth it – I promise.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

2 Thoughts on “Thinking About Search, Again

  1. Linda — this is a great post! I’m really enjoying Twitters new search engine. For those who would like an ad’l example of usefulness go to and enter Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist — it shows what real fans are saying about the movie, about their search to find the book in their community, and a lot of tweets about having a crush on the male star in the movie. What does this tell me? Sounds like a blockbuster hit on the way and so I better read the book already and stock up on copies of the book as well.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’m trying to convince the folks at work to move to a micro-blogging platform. I think email has peaked in terms of usage, and guess what…your email isn’t search-able by the public like twitter content is.

    Twitter gets at the heart of so many KM care-abouts. It’s just a matter of getting people to understand & use it.

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