Since Google announced in April that they would be archiving Twitter tweets, they’ve been rolling it out in phases, first making it accessible only in the additional tools menu in the left sidebar (as Updates), and then in August making it available separately as Realtime Search. I’ve been finding it quite useful, and here’s a little example:

As I often do when a new person retweets me, I was recently looking over the tweets of @sarahebourne, to see what she’s tweeted on that looks interesting, that I might retweet and repay the favor. I do this by combining the person’s Twitter name with different subjects of interest. With Twitter search going back only 4 days, it doesn’t work well for this, so lately I’ve been using Google Realtime search — Here’s the search I did: sarahebourne ebooks – I found one particularly interesting tweet from two weeks ago linking to an August 5 Library Journal article on eBooks and accessibility. I found that several people liked  the article enough to retweet it, and figuring it might be of interest to my followers, I tweeted it, and sure enough, it got several retweets.

So, a little example of a useful tool — With the limited back-searching available in Twitter search, it’s been frustrating that good tweets and good discussions have disappeared very quickly — If a tweet didn’t get retweeted in four days, it was seemingly gone forever. So now tweets are given a new life. Conversations that happened a while back — like during summer, when many people were otherwise occupied — can be brought back to life, like the little conversation above.

Google Realtime Search is still  a work-in-progress! – It’s a great improvement on Twitter’s four-day search, but be aware that it doesn’t find ALL old tweets. From my short experience, it seems to give emphasis to tweets that have  been retweeted.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

2 thoughts on “Twitter Search: Find Old Tweets with Google

  1. Not sure if anyone can help me with this but I want to search the Twitter archive for a two-week period in April 2010 (during the General Election campaign) I know there were plenty of tweets at the time (I was following them!) but when I try to search for them I draw a blank on Twitter search and Google Realtime. Does anyone have any other ideas?

    Thanks!

  2. Kate, Unfortunately, since Google “improved” Realtime by adding additional sites besides Twitter 10 days ago, it has not worked well for Twitter :-( Hope they’ll fix it soon.

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