Thoora Real Time Search

By ranfanranfan (1261369826|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Thoora is a just launched real-time search engine that'll help you "Discover What the World is Talking About."

Background

According to their own website

Thoora is a new and unique service that helps people discover the news attracting the most attention within social and traditional media. In real-time, Thoora identifies the most interesting stories by exploring the entire blogosphere, Twitter and nearly 5,000 traditional media sources to determine the stories attracting the most blog posts, comments, tweets, and news coverage. Thoora then clusters the strongest “signals” from each media “silo” – blogs, Twitter and traditional media – to put the spotlight on the stories that people are really talking about.

If that doesn't make too much sense to you, consider this:

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  • On the left is the way current method to online news - News lead to reactions on the internet.
  • However, Thoora does the opposite by gathering the buzz on the internet first from various sources and then finding the news stories that attracted that buzz.
  • So when a searcher is discovering news, they'll find the "hottest" topics as well as what people are saying about it.

Where does Thoora fit within the market?

We just did in class exercises where we looked at Twitter services (e.g. NearbyTweets, AskTwitr, TrendsMap ) that allowed you to see what was going on in the area as well as TwitTrent Tools (e.g. TwitScoop, Twopular etc.) However, most people commented that this was "creepy" or "irrelevant". Thoora takes this idea of looking at trends of what people are talking about online and extends it to the blogosphere and mixes it with traditional media sources to provide unique and relevant comments on news.

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With Thoora, people can find content from blogs, Twitter, and traditional media sources. The service merges the gap between social and traditional media, so readers no longer have to visit one site for a news article and another place for a blogger’s perspective. And by leveraging the wisdom of crowds to pick out the stories attracting the most attention, Thoora offers a truly unbiased perspective on the hottest stories of the day, and helps uncover voices that otherwise would never be heard.

The technology behind it include "cutting-edge filtering, clustering, and ranking technology to put the spotlight on the stories generating the biggest reactions in new media and traditional media."

Thoughts

I love this site.

First, an intro to its interface, which is slick and clean.

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On the front page, it lists 10 news items in a variety of topic areas. Even though it doesn't specifically say anything, I think these are the "most recent" stories. There's also easy access to Today's Breaking Headlines as a more "real-time view" and a "biggest reactions this week" column to the right. The bottom has headlines from each subject area and there are tabs at the top of the page leading to those sections as well. I am a BIG fan of segmenting websites so I adore this feature. Within each specific area (e.g. business), there's a similar format with "most recent", "today's headline" and "biggest reaction this week".

Though reading the above may have been tedious, analysis of the interface is essential to the overall view of the site. Seemingly minor features such as segmentation actually improves the browsing experience drastically and speeds up the search for information.

Further more, I actually think this is a brand new way to read the news so let's talk about the actual returned results.

Test

I'm using this test with an article in the "biggest reaction list" - American is First Woman to Win Nobel Prize in Economics. Here are the main features of the page

  • A "News Timeline" where I can go to various news sites to read the story
  • A special box for Twits related to this topic
  • Top Related blog posts
  • Story stats: how many unique news sites, blogs, Twits, comments
  • Different viewing options: Look at only blog posts, or news posts, or comments (either overall or JUST for blogs, news posts etc. - can be sorted by rank or date
  • Pictures related to event

These effectively separate all the components the site offers to allow people to easily sort through information. On some of the more popular stories, readers can engage in a discussion on the topic in general or make specific comments to partciular blog posts.

Another Test

If I pick my own topic and do a general search.. say for China. It'll help me narrow down the topic by listing the returns in the form of a category breakdown and show current popular stories within a couple of the categories. So I can get a very broad view of everything related to the topic right now.

This is a VERY interactive way of reading the news - I not only learned about what happened, but got to see what people think about it all in one place. Further, I can easily contribute to the discussion.

This is like blog/twitter, news, and a chat room of sorts all combined into one tool.

What I Disliked

I wish I could have somehow read the news story within the website instead of having to go to an external page and clicking the back button - perhaps a blurb summarizing the news. Same with the blog posts, I wish I could see more preview of what is on those pages.

This essentially weeds out information that people don't write about / care about. But that doesn't necessary mean that information wasn't important. I guess I need to put some faith in the filtering system of such search engines and just believe that their function will be to help make our lives easier instead of worrying about what information is left out.

It's a search engine still in beta mode, so I think it's off to a good start and look forward to seeing its improvements in the future.

Cool Features

Thoora has incorporated several key features to further enhance the news discovery and sharing process.

  • Over 25 subcategories have been added to Thoora’s main categories, such as a mobile section within technology, making it even easier for people to browse specific areas of interest.
  • Thoora users can now publish their comments about stories directly to Twitter or Facebook, letting users share their opinions and what they have discovered with their social networks.
  • New internal commenting features, people can exchange comments with their friends on Thoora to spark conversations and talk about the day’s breaking events and provocative blog posts.
  • With an account, you can make friends and follow what they're commenting and saying.

Let me know what you think about it. Go try it out!

Since March 2009, Thoora has indexed more than 81 million blogs and collects content from 720,000 blog posts each day. The service also looks at articles from 4,500 traditional media sources.

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