RSS Feed: twXplorer

Whilst searching RSS feeds I found a post by Steve Buttry about twXplorer, a new Twitter research tool launched by the Knight Lab.

What twXplorer does is analyze the results of a Twitter search and give you not just the tweets from a search but also patterns in those tweets: the terms, hashtags and links that show up most often in your search. And each of those terms, hashtags and links is hyperlinked, so you can click on it to filter just those tweets from your original search. You can also use it to search within a Twitter list.


So I personally tried twXplorer and I’m very pleased and amazed, it is simple to use by just signing in my Twitter account on twXplorer’s page, because it is a web built-in tool so I don’t have to download and install anything. The interface design is also simple and clean, I entered several terms in the search box, and picked English in the language section. It immediately shows results in four different ways.

  • Up to 500 recent tweets containing the terms I entered.
  • In tweets that include my search terms, a bar graph showing the most popular other words that appear.
  • The most popular hashtags included in tweets containing my search terms
  • The most popular links in tweets containing my search terms.

It’s a great tool for refining searches and drilling down to find the most useful results.

TwXplorer helps users understand what people are talking about on Twitter, most importantly, it refines users’ search through a “drill-down” approach to avoid scrolling through a very long and undifferentiated list of tweets.


Search Engine Comparison (Google, DuckDuckGo, Instagrok)

Nowadays, when we mention the word ‘search engine’, I believe ‘Google’ is first one that pops up in most people’s mind. It is so important even it has become a verb that represents the behavior of searching information online: ‘What is the time in Berlin?’ ‘Just Google it.’

But today I am going to introduce two new search engines which serving quite different purposes with Google: DuckDuckGo and Instagrok. For comparing the differences, let’s search ‘iPhone 5s’ in three search engines, the reason I chose ‘iPhone 5s’ as an example because it is a product name and also a general term with less directional purposes, we will see what kind of purposive results that three search engines will lead us to.


Firstly I searched ‘iPhone 5s’ in Google, the result page opens up very quickly and indicates Google found about 518,000,000 results in 0.27 seconds. But I definitely will not need all these results so let’s see what contents that Google brought out to us in the first page. Because I am using Google Australia, the initial results are some ads of iPhone 5s from different Australian telecom carriers, the next couple pages are ads and introductions from official Apple websites. The following contents include the smaller retailers’ ads, the reviews, the news, and the price comparisons. I will say these results are mostly commercial; even I did not type ‘price’ or ‘buy’ words along with ‘iPhone 5s’. So in this scenario, if I am buying a new iPhone and want to know where the good place to buy is, I prefer to use Google because it gives overall purchasing information but less technical results. I give Google 3/5.


DuckDuckGo (DDG)

In DuckDuckGo’s result page, the first result is official Apple website; it also has the little ‘official’ icon next to it, which I think is very helpful for users not go onto some unreliable or false websites. Another significant difference compares to Google that I found is DDG refined each result’s title, it gave each title some key words of what this webpage is about, instead of the lengthy and jumbled title in Google. In the first page results, it dose have some commercials but they are way less than Google’s, it also includes results about iPhone apps, repairs, accessories, and operation system. In general, these results are more practical and functional than Google, which I believe are more often searched by users. I give DDG 5/5.



After a few seconds loading, Instagrok’s result page really can’t make me accustomed to. Compares to Google and DDG’s traditional layout, its flash based website takes longer loading time than the other two, and its mind map form of site map is new and original but really hard to look at. Beside, after I typed in iPhone 5s, Instagrok automatically changed the results to iPhone 5 for some reasons, which I really can’t understand. It also has a side banner that includes different types of sources and some quizzes but the quantity is very limited. I think it is a very good concept that Instagrok divides results into different aspects in a form of mind map, which I think is good for academic research, because it could help users point out some key points to talk about, but its interface really needs to be worked out further to become more users friendly. I give Instagrok 2/5.