Things I like: Greplin

I’ve always believed that in order to be useful, a piece of technology should allow you to spend less time using technology.  Things that create more efficiency in your day to day life should be embraced, as they create more free time to enjoy doing the things you want to do.

One of the biggest challenges of the social web is the problem of dispersal of information.  I use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Hotmail, GMail, Google Docs, WordPress, and various other channels on a daily basis, and I have different networks of people that I engage with across those different channels.

The problem of information dispersal is that the more channels you use, and the more people you communicate with across those channels, the harder it is to find important information that you have shared.

Greplin is getting a lot of coverage across the bigger social media and tech blogs right now on the back of a recent news release in which they revealed that they had indexed a total of 1.5 billion documents.

Greplin is a pretty simple concept, but the best ideas often are.  Using the different API services offered by the big social networks, Greplin aggregates all of your social activity along with other channels like Google Mail and Google Docs into a single stream of searchable information.  Greplin is a genuine social search engine, in that it concentrates on providing users with results that are personalised to their own social sphere.  These can be filtered by network and type to allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for:

While the search function in Google Docs and GMail is, as you would expect, excellent, the limitations of searching in Twitter or Facebook only become apparent when you realise what else is possible.  I cannot for example restrict a Twitter Search to only returning results from within my own network, and  on Facebook, I cannot narrow down the search to only provide me with comments that people have made in the past.

If I want to find that amazing, witty remark that I posted a couple of weeks ago, there is no way to do so without trawling through all of my stream.  That takes time.

Greplin connects to your different Social Media Profiles, and allows you to combine the different information that they contain into a single searchable index.  It’s more useful than you would expect – although it still has some way to go.

Filter Social Search by type with Greplin
Filter Social Search by type with Greplin

Just one more thing…

For the vast majority of people, Greplin’s standard account is going to be just fine, and provide them with more than they need to streamline their social lives and find information more quickly.  Business Users are going to need a little bit more though.  This is the list of services that Greplin currently covers:

Greplin Social Search
Greplin Social Search

You see those icons with the gold star next to them?  Those are only available to premium account holders, and premium accounts cost money.

For an enterprise user, within an organisation that has made the leap to cloud based systems using Google Apps, and which also uses Salesforce or BaseCamp for management, Greplin premium will be a major advantage, allowing users to find information much more efficiently and quickly.

As I said at the beginning, the hallmark of good technology is that allows you to spend less time using technology.  From that perspective, Greplin is a massive success, and something that I find myself using more and more!