Looking over the events from the last few years, the power of social media is becoming increasingly apparent. In 2009, many traditional news sources were referencing Twitter posts in their reports on the Iran protests. During the catastrophic events that have hit New Zealand, Haiti, and Japan in the last year, millions of people worldwide were using sites like Facebook and Twitter to not only get information on the status of their loved ones but also to find survivors, to get damage reports, and to donate money to rescue efforts. It’s clear that we’re living in an age where we have immediate access to events as they unfold. Where a century ago people would rely on newspaper reports that might be days or weeks old, people are now shunning newspapers and television news because they aren’t reporting in real time and don’t always include the most updated information. This week, I thought I’d feature several sites that allow users to search across different social media sources and research events as they happen. As educators, however, I think it is critical for us to teach our students how to access this information and also to critically analyze it and be skeptical of its authenticity. Teaching with these sites, however, allows us to help students interact with current events and make sense of them as they’re happening.
Social Mention is a search and analysis platform that aggregates socially generated content from around the world into a single stream of information. The site allows users to easily track what people are saying about any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. The site monitors over a hundred different social media sources directly including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and allows users to select which sources to include their search.
Mashpedia is a web application that integrates contents collected from different online sources under one single interface. The site provides a single entry point to a wide spectrum of digital contents and up-to-the-minute data. For every search topic, Mashpedia presents a list of modules with photos, Twitter feeds, blog posts and a variety of other social media organized into a single, easily-digestible site. Clicking on individual sources or media types (Facebook, Twitter, video, etc) helps users refine their media searching.
Topsy is a realtime search engine that is powered by the Social Web. Unlike traditional web search engines like Google or Bing, Topsy indexes and ranks search results based upon the conversations millions of people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried. The site shows which topics are trending currently and allows users to see the top 100 links that are being shared socially at that moment.
Addictomatic searches social sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. Much like Topsy, the site aggregates information into different capsules, elegantly showing search data by their sources (Twitter, Flickr, etc). Users can personalize the presentation by dragging capsules around or by de-selecting certain sources to help refine their searches.