We know Google's desperate to get its paws on real-time social networking data, but it's apparently just pulled off a surprising move in exactly that direction: It's enabled real-time comment searching in YouTube. Now if their comments weren't so inane ...
According to ReadWriteWeb, the move to include a real time comment search engine was very unexpected--it's available here, if you want to try it out. The real-timeness is exhibited in much the same way that Twitter does it, with an updating pop-up box that notes how many new comments have been made that match your search query since you started it. There's also a tiny line that gives away the currently trending search topics: "The office mafia," "Stormtrooper dance," "beyonce and lady gaga" and "general hospital" are there as I write this piece, but the topics seem to change very swiftly.
Twitter, of course, was very proud of its own similarly-designed live search engine when it launched a few months back--possibly because it was a way for the social media upstart to thumb its nose at big, clunky, slow-moving ol' Google. Twitter's arch-rival Facebook has been dabbling in the tech too.
Real-time searches on Twitter make excellent sense. If Twitter is a digital finger on the pulse of the World, then being able to search for phrases that are currently the topic of global conversation is incredibly useful. It works, because while people sometimes Tweet out meaningless information (some 80% of Tweeps habitually do this, according to recent research) there's a lot of powerful content pouring down Twitter's wires. The service's news-grabbing skills were ably demonstrated last night, for example, with up-to-the-second updates on the weird Balloon Boy saga.
But if Twitter's Tweets demonstrate all that's good about social network chatting, YouTube exhibits the opposite. As regular Youtubers will attest, and as even a casual trawl of the comments on some random clips will show, the comments on YouTube clips are essentially garbage. They're full of drivel, flame wars, small-mindedness, insults, and the kind of schoolyard to-and-fro that is boring from the first second. Not all video comments are like this, and it does to some extent depend on the type of content shown in the clips ... but it's a fair summary of the average comment. Which makes a real-time search function almost meaningless.
At the end of the day, this could be a misdirection, a way for Google to test out the value and tech behind real-time social network comments, trending topics and all. Or is it merely the first step in trying to make-over YouTubes comment system and inject a little more value and sanity into its user's social chit-chats? Your (smart, witty, non-inane) comments welcome below.