At the Ref Desk (4/25/17): Someone calls but when I pick up the phone all I get is background noise -- people talking, etc. Did he or she just sit on their smartphone and dial out accidentally? Interesting jumping off point for a work of fiction... [more...]

Real-Time Web: It's More Than Just Twitter

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 8/30/09 (12:18pm)

I liked the article in BusinessWeek on the 'Real-Time Web'. It being BusinessWeek, they naturally devoted a significant portion to speculation on how to make money from this emerging trend and I had to laugh at the illusive precision of there being "at least $5 billion to be made on the real-time Web". What, just $5 billion?

Anyway, to give them their due, they correctly identify the trend:

In just the past couple of years, several developments have come together to make the Web more of a real-time experience: ubiquitous high-speed Internet connections; a growing number of mobile devices such as the iPhone with full Web browsers; and new Web technologies that enable instant transmission of messages and data. That mix has made always-on, real-time communications easy and addictive.

Okay, that sounds pretty 'real-time' to me. What I can't understand though is the focus, bordering on fixation, on Twitter in this and other articles. I mean, here it is, we've got an emerging technology that's giving us real-time group communication both in text, voice and video and the most impressive thing they can think of is a text stream limited to 140 characters?

You can't be serious. Off the top of my head, the number of possibilities include:

  • Switch from traditional telephones to more computer- and network-based audio
  • Conference calls on steroids -- now with video
  • More ways to interact remotely at meetings and conferences -- routine live blogging and group chat are just the beginning
  • Greater use of video chat -- for no better reason than there being a video camera on everyone's laptop
  • Remote mentoring including real-time online editing of student research papers
  • Easier and more dynamic ways to collect and organize research

And yes, I've seen the video introducing Google's ambitious Wave Project. It's nice but I'm most optimistic about initiatives that build on past successes and move forward by incremental steps. The kind of technology we've become familiar with as hallmarks of Web 2.0 (YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, etc.) has prepared us well for this next step.

[h/t ReadWriteWeb]