Want to Search for Images in Real-Time? Try a Twitter App.

January 21st, 2010 |


Jeff Louis is a strategic media planner, brand project manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. He's intrigued by innovation overcoming adversity, survival of the fittest brand, history, reading, and similar fun stuff. He writes for sites and is the Public Relations and Advertising writer for the Chicago Examiner.

Whether a daily social media user or someone just getting acquainted with social media, you’re no doubt familiar with the concept of real-time search. If not, the definition is simply the ability to view information as soon as it’s composed, with virtually no delay between publication and viewing. Twitter is the best example of real-time search and the first real-time application to gain widespread acceptance. Once a tweet is posted, it’s instantly available for all to view.

If you see an area on Google automatically scrolling, don’t be alarmed. Google is now offering real-time search results as part of its services, not to mention the infamous Google Wave application which is still in invitation-only beta. Microsoft’s Bing has also jumped on the real-time search bandwagon. Facebook purchased real-time search provider FriendFeed last year in their effort to update Facebook’s instant search capabilities.

As real-time search has evolved, application providers have written code for Twitter that capitalizes on the site’s popular photo-sharing capabilities and provides images in real-time.  Simply, it’s a steady stream of images gleaned from every single tweet that publishes an image.

There are actually four applications that publish images in real-time:

1. My personal favorite is Pingwire; it’s no frills and was written, according to the coder, in about 40-minutes because he couldn’t sleep. It pulls images from a variety of applications including Twitpic, Yfrog, Twitgoo, Tweetphoto, Mobypicture, and Img.ly. Pingwire-in-a-Box is Pingwire’s widget that can be put on your blog or site.

2. Twitcaps is a real-time feed that’s loaded with extras, including the ability to search images and video. There are a lot of features associated with Twitcaps, like the ability to slow the feed, see the actual tweet (and sender), and to reorganize image results to view the most popular images. Images can be filtered by host and by language.

3. PicFog is another favorite. Not only are users able to view the real-time stream, but they can search by user, location, and subject matter. For instance, a search by location will yield results within a kilometer of your home, if you enter your address. The images include the timestamp of the tweet as well as the number of times it’s been retweeted.

4. Finally, although not a real-time search vehicle, Twicsy allows for the search of images posted to Twitter by what is trending on the site. Trending images can be seen by refreshing your browser. Top trending images ranging from the past hour to last week are also available if they were the top-trending images during the period that the search was performed.

Be warned that the only site that filters inappropriate images is Twicsy. The others are strictly real-time, and Not-Safe-For-Work (NSFW) due to possible nudity, content, and language. Thus, it’s not recommended that you use these sites while at the office (unless, of course, your cubicle is private). However, if you’re at home and bored, or happen to have a few minutes to spare, it’s interesting to see the images that get posted from users on a global basis. It’s one of the true displays of social media at its finest, bringing worlds far apart together via imagery as content.

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Jeff Louis