In May, we reported that Bitly was working on a real-time viral search engine. Here it is. It's called Realtime, and today it launches in private beta. Simply put, the search engine aggregates all the shortened links from Bit.ly users around the world, finds out how many people are clicking on them at any given time, and then lets you filter the result by keyword, topic, country, language, the social network it appeared at, or a particular website. Bitly's calling it an "attention ranking engine," and that seems apt in our testing so far. Unlike Twitter's trending topics or the competition, you're able to find out which webpages are most shared, rather than simply the most viral comments on those stories. As reporters, we're definitely fans of the idea: we can see it being a very useful tool for people who want to know what's interesting right this moment. It seems like it'd be even more useful as a mobile app, though, particularly if it also let you search for local results.
Of course, the results are only really useful if Bit.ly gains popularity yet again: Most social networks have their own URL shortener these days, and as you can probably see for yourself in the image above, the top result for "Olympics" right now is only managing 22.3 clicks per minute at this very moment. If you'd like to contribute to that popularity, though, find it on the web at rt.ly and apply for an invite now.