Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Real-Time Web - Blink And You Missed It

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 29, 2009

Chatter.jpgThe current fashion and passion among the digerati, or rather Twiterati is for the real-time web, real-time search, and the real-time flow of our Internet experience.

For example, just a few minutes ago I noticed that blogger Louis Gray complained that Robert Scoble's recent post took more than two hours to reach his Google Reader.

I can understand the need for real-time information for stock trading but I don't know why I would need near real-time access to Robert's posts. Yet we constantly hear from many people these days about the need for real-time communications and Internet services, corporations need to monitor the web in real-time, etc.

What's happened to all the chatter we used to have about everything ever created on the Internet is available for ever? (The Eternal Internet.) Or, that the Internet operates on your time, when you want it. (The Tivo Internet.)

I'm not sure either exists completely. If things take just a few too many clicks to find, they might as well not exist.

For example, yesterday I was trying to find some of the writings of "Wendy Kroy" at Sand Hill Slave, a hilarious bitch-goddess account of working with VCs. She stopped publishing a couple of years ago yet I was having a lot of trouble finding some of her posts. Even the Way Back Machine was giving me lots of dead-ends. (I did finally find this: VC stands for very clueless.)

Even the Tivo Internet is not really there. When I try to find something I already watched on Hulu, the program is often withdrawn.

Now, with our seemingly collective passion for all-things-real-time, if you blink you've missed it. For example, I often post or Twit late at night and my Twitter and Facebook feeds get seen by people who are either waking up somewhere, or are late night owls like myself.

The same is true for myself. I can only dip into the real-time streams of my Twitter and Facebook communities a few times for a few minutes a day. If I didn't see your post then, then I most probably missed it. Yes, I could review my rivers of content but I'm unlikely to do that, and that's true for most people.

Paradoxically, I think that there is less reason for corporations to keep track of how people are talking about their brands because of the temporal nature of things. If conversations happen in real-time then they are done and dusted, fewer people are likely to notice, and therefore there isn't much that a corporation can do.

This temporal nature of content has been with us for a long time. Newspapers quickly became yesterday's fish-wrap. And blogging exacerbated things because new content would push older content steadily down the page and then into the oblivion of the archives. Yes, you can search but only if you know something is there.

So does that mean it is OK to re-post, maybe several times a day, because the likelihood of people seeing the same thing twice is small? I think that's fine. I sometimes republish SVW posts written many years ago and they find new audiences because the content is fresh to them.

I have an idea for a site that republishes great content, dredged up from the past. For example, that viral video from five years ago would certainly look fresh to many people today. New is new when it's new to me, real-time or not.

So what's beyond real-time? That's next.

. . .

Please see:

Carl Honore praises slowness | Video on TED.com

"Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life."

Today's Real-Time Web Makes Blogging and RSS Seem "Too Slow" - louisgray.com

Modern maladies: I have the attention span of a gnat | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

VC stands for very clueless

An ode to Slave Girl. . . - SiliconValleyWatcher

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