Google is taking real-time search to the next level with a new feature that will let you search through Twitter's entire history of tweets.
"Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and "replay" what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter," announced Google in an April 14 blog post.
The feature lets you explore how a cat playing piano on an iPad became a web celebrity in hours or, perhaps more importantly, how a flu epidemic is spreading through the country as people tell the world they are "staying at home today. Sick with the flu."
"With the advent of blogs and micro-blogs, there's a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places - some famous and some local. Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what's happened and how people have reacted. We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful," said Google's Product Manager for Real-Time Search, Dylan Casey.
To search through the billions of archived tweets using Google, type in your search query, click on "Show options" in the results page and then select "Updates." A chart will appear at the top of the page from which you can select the year, month or day you are looking for.
Searchtastic, a "Smart Twitter search" engine has been enabling people to search for historical tweets since October 2009. The search engine also enables you to search through tweets posted by a particular Twitter user or their followers. The one drawback is their archive only links to tweets posted during the last couple of months - not years.
Google's Twitter archive search will roll out to English-speaking countries from April 14. Initially you will only be able to search through tweets going back to February 11, 2010.
Once the global roll-out is completed, Google will eventually enable people to search through tweets going back as far as March 21, 2006 - the date when the first 140 character post was made on Twitter.
You can see what the Twitter history search results will look like here: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=1&esrch=RTReplay&q=obama&tbs=mbl:1,mbl_hs:1271167987,mbl_he:1271254387,mbl_rs:1271184140,mbl_re:1271184165