Vik Singh of Yahoo’s BOSS team has just launched a new search engine called TweetNews that mashes up Yahoo News stories with some of the hottest topics on Twitter. The result is a news engine that is significantly more timely than common news aggregators like Google News and Yahoo’s standard news site.
In his blog post describing the new release, Singh explains that sorting Yahoo News results by the “recent” category ranks them by the time at which they were published, which is a poor measure of relevance. Some news sites try to measure the relevance of breaking news by looking at how many news publications have covered the same story, but this doesn’t work well for breaking news, as more stale stories tend to rise to the top because they have more related articles.
To combat this, Singh’s mashup tries to use recent Twitter tweets to measure which topics are breaking, and then links to relevant stories gathered from Yahoo News. The site is very barebones at the moment (I’d like to see a homepage detailing the hottest news stories and matching tweets), but it’s a great showcase for BOSS and the power of Twitter. It only took Singh 100 lines of code, and it’s open source. From his blog post:
There’s something very interesting here … Twitter as a ranking signal for search freshness may prove to be very useful if constructed properly. Definitely deserves more exploration – hence this service, which took < 100 lines of code to represent all the search logic thanks to Yahoo! BOSS, Twitter’s API, and the BOSS Mashup Framework.
To sum up, the contributions of this service are: (1) Real-time search + freshness (2) Stitching social commentary to authoritative sources of information (3) Another (hopefully cool) BOSS example.
The code is packaged for general open consumption and has been ported to run on App Engine (which powers this service actually). You can download all the source here.