A flurry of reports yesterday suggest that Twitter is on the verge of acquiring startup Summize, whose mission "is to search & discover the topics and attitudes expressed within online conversations."
Right now that translates into a Twitter search engine built on top of Twitter's public API to enable users to search and track keywords or phrases indexed from Twitter's public timeline. And, more ambitiously, not just see how often a particular topic gets a mention, but actually ascertain different attitudes and viewpoints, and weight them accordingly.
It's this technology, says Om Malik, that could pave the way to Twitter finally developing a business model. In particular, Summize's ability to "geocode public timeline tweets (short messages)", to allow, for example, "one to find out what people are saying about John McCain in Phoenix vs San Francisco", that could form the basis of a powerful ad-targeting platform.
In other words, Summize has come-up with a clever way of peering through Twitter’s vast data stream and finding out what’s hot, where and how. The results are essentially keywords - topic, person or location based - and thus can be used to show contextual advertising next to the pages that show these results. Summize, has thereby developed an ability to monetize conversations without being intrusive.
And as Malik concludes: "Just as AdSense serendipitously turned Google into a giant cash register, with Summize, Twitter can take first step towards a business model."
That's right, Twitter may have bought itself a business model - the holy grail of Web 2.0 :-)
Interestingly, the development of Summize's technology seems to have benefited greatly from Twitter's early decision to offer a public API, and with it see a "million" (alright, a few hundred) flowers bloom. If the Summize acquisition turns out to be true, Twitter has begun harvesting the best of that crop.
Twitter's demise is greatly exaggerated
In other Twitter-related news, Twitter usage is on the rise again. In other words, the service appears to have recovered from the self inflicted beating it took during much of June. It's pretty simple: downtime equals a downturn in traffic, but luckily enough for Twitter, its network effects are strong enough, for the time being at least, to insulate it from any long term damage. Users are pretty loyal to Twitter, as long as all of their "friends" are too.