One of the most interesting trends on the Internet right now is a move towards a more real-time experience. We have seen a lot of discussion lately about how Twitter is leading the charge by creating a search engine for the real-time web, for example. However, there are also a good number of other services that already expose some of the promises of the real-time web. In this post, we will have a look at some of the most interesting ones.

See the Real-Time Web in Action

RSS feeds, while extremely useful, can't really provide a real-time experience as your feed reader or other RSS enabled program has to actually ping the feed at regular intervals. Instead of getting information pushed out to, you have to actively pull the information in - and, for practical reasons, most feed readers like Google Reader only poll feeds a few times an hour.

Thanks to protocols like XMPP and SUP, however, it is becoming easier for developers to pass along updates to their users almost immediately.


Notifixious's Superfeeder wants to bridge the world of RSS feeds and the real-time web.

Notifixious's mission is to provide (almost) real-time updates when a blog or news organization posts a new story. You simply tell Notifixious which sites to monitor and whenever it finds an update, it will send out an alert to your IM account or mobile phone.

Currently, Notifixious can only get 'real' real-time updates through XMPP from Identica, Seesmic, LiveJournal, and Sixapart's TypePad and Vox blogging communities. Notifixious also monitors public ping servers, though these can be unreliable at times.

FriendFeed Real-Time

We are big fans of FriendFeed here at ReadWriteWeb (you can find - and join - our FF room here). One of the neatest features of FriendFeed is its ability to show you a real-time stream of your friend's updates. You can actually put those real-time updates into a browser sidebar if you use Firefox. Of course, this stream, like a lot of real-time applications, can often move faster than you can read if you follow a lot of FriendFeed users.


The search function that Twitter acquired from Summize is probably the most commonly used real-time search engine on the Internet right now. Sadly, the results page doesn't automatically update as new updates come in.

A service that does just that is Monitter (our review). Monitter lets you simultaneously search for three keywords and it automatically updates whenever a new post with the keyword appears.

The Real-Time Web at Work: Google Docs, Zoho, MindMeister

Of course, the real-time web isn't just about consuming information - Google Docs, Zoho, MindMeister and many others allow you to collaborate and edit documents with your colleagues in real-time. As you make changes to the document, those changes will immediately be reflected on your fellow users' screens as well.

Starting Next Week: Your Facebook Homepage

You can't actually use this today, but earlier this week, Facebook announced that it will enable real-time updates of its users' news feeds next week. Currently, Facebook only updates the feed a few times per hour. Once this new version of the news feed goes live, it will probably be one of the largest implementations of real-time status updates on the Internet.

CC-licensed logo image used courtesy of Flickr user RBerteig