We’ve covered Firefox plugin Search Cloudlet before, when they bolted their tag-based search solution on top of Google and Yahoo Search. At the time, I thought it was pretty cool and still use it daily.
But as you may have heard, Twitter is rapidly becoming a complementary search engine on its own, providing real-time results on a variety of topics based on keyword search. It was only a matter of time for Search Cloudlet to add support for the micro-sharing service, and the updated version of the plugin that does just that is launching today.
The functionality is the same as what you get when you search Google or Yahoo. Installing the extension in Firefox (works from version 2.0 up to 3.1 beta 3) enhances Twitter Search, which is increasingly being integrated into the main Twitter interface, in the sense that it inserts a tag cloud based on queries on top of the regular results. Clicking tags filters the results down, and you can do the same for authors (based on Twitter handles) and @To messages, meaning replies to other users. It’s quite easy to turn off and never gets in your way, so it’s definitely a great addition if you search Twitter conversations on a regular basis.
Also very useful is the fact that if you go to a user’s profile page, you get tags for what that individual user has been tweeting about, which you can also filter down. Tags for individual users only go back 20 messages, while the regular Twitter search enhancement goes back 100. It would be nice if this number could be tweaked somehow.
Search Cloudlet is extremely similar to what startups like Tweetag (review), TwitScoop and Tweetwire are doing (also check out Cloud.li), but the big difference is that the tag cloud is integrated right into Twitter Search, which is evidently very valuable since you no longer need to remember or head to a separate website to enjoy tag-based search. Of course, it’s only really helpful when you use Twitter via the web, which is still the most popular way to use the service but is also being challenged with the rise of excellent desktop clients like TweetDeck, Twhirl or AlertThingy to name but a few. And of course, it only works with Firefox.
Search Cloudlet was developed by the International Software & Productivity Engineering Institute (INTSPEI), a research organization with offices in New York and Kiev (Ukraine). It was cooked up by @vlpavlov, @sashakravets and @kzhereb but the original idea to use the technology to enhance Twitter search came from Marjolein “@cleverclogs” Hoekstra.