Ask not what Twitter can do for Yahoo!...

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Yesterday Yahoo! announced that it reached an agreement with Twitter to incorporate the twitter feed into its properties in a variety of ways, including surfacing tweets related to particular topics, returnĀ  more tweets in search results, and allow users to read their tweets and tweet directly from their Yahoo! pages. The move is interesting more as another vote for the importance of Twitter as a communication channel than in the value it introduces into people’s interactions with Yahoo!

It is not clear to me what the real value of embedding selected tweets (the NYT article gives an example of tweets from legislators shown next to a topic on healthcare) is, given that tweets that bear real information typically refer to documents to provide the detail; why not just link to those documents directly? The recommendation aspect seems weak unless the personality making the recommendation is more important than the recommendation itself.

Embedding tweets the way that Bing and Google do it seems like a poor model to emulate, given the shortcomings of those firms’ approaches. It seems like a better opportunity would be to provide a more comprehensive search mechanism for Twitter that complements Twitter’s offering. A hybrid approach that uses Twitter for recent (real-time) data coupled with a historical index managed by Yahoo would be one way to offer significant value to users and to differentiate Yahoo!’s offering from those of Google and Bing.