nicolas leroy

Summize acquired by Twitter

July 15, 2008

It has been rumored in the last week, but today it is official: Summize and its Twitter search platform has been acquired by Twitter, the micro-blogging platform… But who remembers that Summize has its roots as review aggregator? The whole story of Summize is explained by Jay Virdy, Summize CEO, in the final post on Summize blog:

Our passion for designing search applications brought us three co-founders, Abdur, Greg, and myself, together back in 2000. […] in 2007 we set out to create our own new vertical search engine to help people find opinions and attitudes on the Web.

At Summize, we assembled a small, quirky, but highly efficient and experienced team to build a powerful platform to extract user opinions from blogs and review sites.  Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, our cacographic Chief Scientist, applied machine learning techniques to understand how users express sentiment using common words and polarizing phrases (e.g., when someone says “nice” it isn’t necessarily in a positive sense). […]

In 2008, we discovered Twitter as a source of the most timely and relevant opinions on trending topics.  We immediately embarked on a plan to develop the best Twitter search and discovery application to serve the Twitter community and burgeoning Twitter ecosystem.

Since, this side development grew up to become a big success in the Twitter community, and THE flagship product from Summize.

What I liked in the initial offer from Summize was the visual representation used to represent reviews for a product. Rather than using the classic 5-stars pattern, it used a data visualization technique to give an idea of the full spectrum of reviews attached to a product. See examples below:

Product comparison:

Overview of “reviews and sentiments” about an artist / a product / …:

I suppose this idea has been patented, and I’m wondering whether Twitter acquires it as well / how it can be used on other sites…

(for those interesting to design a reputation system, here is a nice article entitled “On a scale of 1 to 5” on BoxAndArrows).