Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What happened on 23rd February?

Last month my business analyst friend at work was analyzing the traffic report for IBN Live mobile site for the month of February and was not able to figure out some patterns. At last he asked me

Friend: Umesh, do you remember what happened on Feb 23rd ?

Me: Mmmmmmm not exactly. Whats the problem?

Friend: Well I see a sudden spike in traffic on that day and some how I missed out to note it down then. Now I have no clue what happened on that day.

I tried to recollect the happenings but as I’m very bad at remembering things I decided to ask others. Even they were clueless. Then we started spitting out random things which came to our mind…. Tendulkar’s century, Karachi Attacks, Elections, Stock market crash… but none of them could be traced back to the 23rd of February.

I tried Google, but didn’t give any helpful results. I also tried Twitter search expecting to see some tweets which happened on that day. But it didnt have a way to search for tweets on a particular day. The date as the search query didnt help too.

Then some one shouted.. It was Maha Sivratri. Then someone remembered Resool Pookutty saying it was all god’s grace as the Oscars happened on an auspicious day. Bingo. It was Oscars which made the traffic spike on IBN live site. Supposedly it was not only the television channels but also the news channels which had benefited from India’s triumph at Oscars.

I was sad that as a self confessed web lover who swears by Google couldn’t find out a popular event which happened on a previous date using the search engines. That day the whole world was talking about Twitter as a real time information search engine and I didn’t have to think of use cases to understand its potential.


Twitter is a huge archive of information about all the things happened and happening in this world on a day to day basis as there will people tweeting about them. And hence it’s also the place to search for things happened in the past and things that are happening right now in real time. Sadly Twitter couldn’t help me with the Oscars day but may be that’s what they are working towards. If Twitter had accepted the date as a search query and shown me the trending topics on 23rd February and also the tweets on those topics, I would have easily found out the answer.

Twitter as a search engine for live happenings is very powerful and there is no doubt about that. Its something even Google cannot do. The other day we the mallus in our office were so eager to find out about the Malayalam movie Sagar Alias Jacky which got released at around 12pm that day. As usual we had to wait for the first day first show to get over for the reviews to come out. I decided to try my luck again. At 1 pm I searched for Sagar Alias Jacky on Twitter and bingo there were people tweeting from the cinema hall as they were watching the flick and we got the very first reviews come to us live from ground zero. FTW.


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