Twitter feed stream 311 (R).
(photo credit: Yves Herman / Reuters)
Alexandra Mann writes for No Camels
An Israeli-American startup, acquired by social networking giant Twitter, claims it can finally help organize the cluster of information on social networks and turn it into relevant and useful information for users.
Julpan, a project founded by Ori Allon, had as goal to crunch social activity like status updates, tweets, Facebook likes, and RSS feeds right as they are happening to provide the most relevant content. Now exclusively on Twitter, Julpan analyzes the more than 200 million daily tweets and organizes them like a search engine.
“By looking at what links you share, what people you communicate with
publicly, and what topics you often talk about, our engine is able to
tell whether you’re a foodie that loves pasta, a soccer fan that loves
FC Barcelona, or a passionate musician that loves The Beatles,” says
Allon started his social network search engine career a couple of years
ago, after receiving his PhD from the University of South Wales,
Australia, for developing a search algorithm called Orion, purchased by
Google in 2006.
“The algorithm tried to track the most relevant pages for the search
term, not by popular measures like the number of links a page has, but
by its content,” Allon told Israeli websire Calcalist. “For example, by
searching ’4th of July’ you get results about fireworks and concerts -
things that people say and mean in the context of the American
However, in April Allon decided to leave Google and founded Julpan, a
16-man operation based in New York, which is about to launch its product
in the next few months.
“Nowadays, people share so much information on social networks,” says
Allon. “We do something similar to what Google has done in the search
field, but in social media. For example, you can search Julpan for a
restaurant, event or anything that happens today and get amazing
results. The source is other users’ content, so the information
available can’t be found anywhere else.”
So is it just a search engine for social networks? “It’s more like a
discovery engine. The query does not have to be a word or phrase but can
be your current location, what you did an hour ago, and the show you’re
watching on TV or your last chat with your friends.”
“Based on the information available on [Twitter] we can know where you
are and what you and your friends wrote in the last hour,” says Allon.
“The beauty of this technology is that it is based on context of your
location and activities. The most important thing for us is to
understand the relationship between the user activity and bringing him
information that is relevant for him at that moment.”
Twitter at the moment, as well as Facebook, has a very limited search
engine: the user enters a textual query and the search engine shows
results such as tweets and people that include words that match the
query, mostly from the past few days.
Julpan on the other hand keeps a long-term database and shows results
that take into account other data besides the text in the query. That
way, your restaurant “check-in” can be translated into a query and
Julpan will show reviews about other restaurants in the area based on
check-ins made by other users that went to your current restaurant.
“When entering a question about a basketball game that was taking place
between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, Jukpan knew I was searching
for something that had to do with the game. Many people were sharing a
link to the live stream of the game at that moment so Julpan decided to
show me the link as a result. You can’t get a result like that anywhere
else. Facebook and Twitter would have given you results like chats about
the game or other irrelevant information.”
Allon gives another example: “A few weeks ago, Katy Perry signed albums a
few blocks from our office. We knew that because many people that
normally don’t mention her started mentioning her, her locations and
what she’s doing now. That immediate information cannot be retrieved by
any other service. It’s a great way for tourists and locals to find out
about interesting things that happen right know in their area.”
Allon explains why no one has created a similar search tool based on
information in social networks before: “The information is out there but
no one yet took it and tried to make it useful. Facebook and Twitter
have the information but not the means. Google has the analytics
abilities but not the information,” says Allon.
About Google+, Allon says that “if Google had Facebook’s information we
would have seen amazing things. That’s the main reason they launched
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