TweetNews is a new search engine that uses hot Twitter topics to bring more relevance and freshness to news search. It’s a pet project developed by Vik Singh, a member of Yahoo’s BOSS team.
As Vik describes it on his personal blog, fresh news often doesn’t have enough links to rank well in a traditional algorithm. But TweetNews replaces links with Twitter conversations as a signal; news stories that are being talked about the most on Twitter will rise to the top of a TweetNews search.
It’s an interesting mashup because it plays to the real strength of Twitter — its ability to report and spread news before traditional news sources, and its ability to serve as a barometer for what’s “hot” or important at any given moment. A great example happened just today, where one of the earliest and most remarkable photos of the US Airways crash in New York City was first published via Twitter.
What I found most interesting in both of these cases was that news articles did exist on these topics, but just weren’t valued highly enough yet or not focusing on the right stories (as the majority of tweets were). So why not just do that? Order these fresh news articles (which mostly provide authority and in-depth coverage) based on the number of related fresh tweets as well as show the tweets under each. That’s this service.
As he mentions above, TweetNews not only uses Twitter to determine relevance, but it also shows the social commentary about each story that’s happening on Twitter. It’s a good advertisement for Yahoo’s BOSS, although, in a bit of irony, it runs on Google’s App Engine.
The code is open source. It’s available, along with more background and screenshots, on Vik’s blog.