Our own Marshall Kirkpatrick kicked off our Real-Time Web Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View today. Marshall, who spoke with over 40 different vendors over the last few months in preparation for this event, presented a high-level overview of what he thinks the recent developments around the real-time web will mean for companies and users. Specifically, Marshall stressed the fact that real time doesn’t just mean speed but also creates value by including presence data, flow and data syncing. All of this, according to Marshall, will lead to radical changes in how users will experience the Web in the near future.
Creating Value on the Real-Time Web
Starting out, Marshall discussed some of the usage cases of the real-time Web, ranging from people-to-people services like Twitter and Olark to services that focus on machine-to-machine communication and enable services like Friendfeed and Google Reader. Services like Aardvark, which provide links between people and machines, and machine-to-people services like NotifyMe and PostRank fall in between.
This new river of data, of course, could easily lead to total information overload. In the best case scenario, the tools will get so good that we won’t be overwhelmed by all of the data coming at us. In the worst case, of course, we could lose the usefulness of the real-time Web if the flow of data becomes too overwhelming for users, or compromise usefulness in order to reduce information overload.
As Marshall pointed out, though, we are only laying the railroad tracks for this future of the real-time Web right now. Services like Pubhubsubbub and RSSCloud are currently building the infrastructure that will make these major changes on the Internet happen, though the standards that will make the real-time Web possible are still evolving.
The question, of course, is how these standards will evolve. While some standards bodies are currently trying to create them, chances are that some standards will evolve naturally as certain vendors become dominant.
Bringing the Real-Time Web to the ‘Slow Web’
Marshall pointed to Facebook’s Global Happiness Index as an example for the kind of product companies can develop based on data created on the real-time web. He also looked at a number of companies like Evri, FirstRain and JS-Kit’s Echo that are bridging the gaps between relatively static pages like blogs and the real-time web.