Deep searching

the_hills

There’s been a lot written recently about how Twitter’s ‘real time’ search might threaten Google’s dominance. No predictions here but I thought I would share some observations on the former’s ability to deepen the search experience. And maybe even imbue it with emotion.

I greatly enjoy Mike Judge’s animated TV series King of the Hill. I remember watching it back in England around the mid-90s and immediately falling for its gentle, almost wistful depiction of life in Arlen, Texas.

Like most great TV shows, it was irregularly scheduled and I lost track of it over the years. But about a year ago, I stumbled across a few episodes on a streaming site and I spent a long, hungover day revelling in my rediscovery of the show. I did some digging and it came as a really pleasant surprise to learn that FOX was still making the show.

Since then I’ve continued to view the show online, usually when I’m feeling particularly bone idle. Which happened to be the case the night before last. I’d watched an episode or two when I thought I’d search Google for information on the show’s future. But then a funny thing happened. I didn’t search Google, I searched Twitter. This happened because I actually used the Hyperwords plug-in I’d installed recently for something other than Google.

For those that don’t know, Hyperwords allows for a much more fine-grained search experience by letting users directly search social networks, video sharing sites, reference sites, news sites and more.

Initially, I was utterly underwhelmed. The majority of the Tweets were inane and there didn’t seem to be any article links. But then I started to notice a trend. Several Tweets were from people watching King of the Hill late at night. Like me, they found the show soothing in some way:

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Others were rediscovering the show:

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Still others were discovering it for the first time:

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I found the process of trawling through pages of King of the Hill-referencing Tweets addictive. Fleeting glimpses into people’s lives with a TV show as a common denominator; an electronic path unifying like-minded people unknown to each other, not knowing that they are being connected, however abstractly. I started to think of potential data visualizations, and imagining how TV executives could mine this information to help with scheduling decisions.

But mostly I just felt as though the mechanical act of searching the internet was being lifted into something a little more human, a little deeper.

Incidentally, I also found the information I was looking for. Sadly the show has been cancelled now:

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