At the ReadWriteWeb Real-Time Web Summit today, our own co-editor and VP of content development Marshall Kirkpatrick delivered his keynote about the myths, realities and the future of the real-time Web. Among other things, Marshall addressed whether the real-time Web will rot your brain and whether it is more than just streaming updates from Twitter and Facebook. He also highlighted some of the ways that the ReadWriteWeb team uses it to break and research news stories.

Starting out, Marshall stressed how ambiguous the term "real-time Web" is, so to kick off the discussion, he offered his own definition:

The real-time web is the Web in which data is delivered to its recipients (be they human or machine) in real or near real time, as soon as it becomes available.

In addition, he noted the enormous scope of the real-time Web, which ranges from finance and medical tools, to social networking and media services.

Myth #1: The Real-Time Web is just Twitter and Facebook

While this is still a very popular perception, Marshall noted that more than 50% of the links shortened by Bit.ly are now created outside of Twitter. Real-time search engine Collecta, too, doesn't just index posts from Twitter, but also collects millions of post from platforms like MySpace and WordPress every day. Besides these social tools, it's worth noting that a lot of real-time information is now being passed between machines and Internet-connected sensors.

Myth #2: The Real-Time Web Will Rot Your Brain

Does the real-time Web cause shallow thinking, information overload, narcissism and neurological degradation? Referring to Nicholas Carr's argument that it's slowly degrading our ability to focus, Marshall noted that he does not think that the real-time Web will rot our brains. Instead, he highlighted some of the ways that we use the real-time Web to our advantage at ReadWriteWeb.

We, for example, use lots of robots that alert us to breaking news stories. While we like to chase those stories, we also compliment these real-time methods with legacy research methods and slower news sources for more in-depth coverage. Thanks to this, the real-time Web just becomes another tool and doesn't replace our traditional research methods.

Myth #3: Real-Time Just Lets Us Do What We are Already Doing, Faster

Talking about this myth, Marshall noted that the value of a new technology is sometimes not clear until the right use cases appear and the right innovators come along that make use of this new technology. Clearly, though, the real-time Web has already given us lots of new ways of communicating with each other, and given our machines new ways of talking to each other and collect and distribute data.