It used to be that whenever I would go to the Web to find content, especially in the context of my daily work, I would simply go to Google, enter the search terms and then ferret through the results until I got the information I sought. If you get the right search term this exercise is pretty simple, but it also can be quite difficult if you get it wrong. My wife, as a professional librarian, is an expert at getting the right search terms every time. I cannot claim the same level of success, usually. I’m retrying searches multiple times so that the most pertinent stuff ends up on top.
With a tool like Twitter it can be pretty easy to find great content through their search engine, and you can quickly see what the “crowd” views as good content based on their comments in their tweets, or even their hash tags. It has gotten to the point that I now start with Twitter to search for blog posts, videos or images relating to what I need. This change in paradigm was inspired by the following YouTube video (recommendation: follow @equalman on Twitter – he’s really on top of all of this stuff).
I like to think of it as looking for the breadcrumbs that the experts left behind for me to find and harvest for my gain. If you read the tweets, it does not take long to figure out where the good stuff is hiding. And, usually they are kind enough to leave a link to follow.
Retweets are also important to note. What’s happening here is that a tweeter thought something was important or especially good at wanted to share the tweet with his or her followers. It’s also good Twitter etiquette to give the originator credit for the effort. This is another opportunity to find an authority on a topic. Find the original tweeter and follow him/her.
Google also is thinking this is important. This blog post describes a new 2-way search feature that mixes results from Twitter into its search results. The Bing “decision engine” also contains this capability, however it is somewhat buried as one of many options (follow the “More” link on the top to find the Twitter search).
The social media crowd is taking control of the web. I think this phenomenon will shape the way we all search for relevant content. As Twitter expands, it will only make it more valuable as an information worker. See you in Twitterland!