What is the cause of this huge real-time interest anyway? Mostly, lowered barriers to users creating content: Posting a quick update to Twitter is so effortless that web users are becoming conditioned to create. Youtube has created an entire generation of indi-media producers, now people have their own channels, production companies etc. This was unthinkable just 10 years ago.
Todays content creators have learned to expect a response, too: The immediate feedback provided by Facebook.com, comments to their videos and Twitter post creates an incentive to make continued contributions to all these excited new social media communities.
Today the undisputed champion of real-time search is Twitter Search, which provides instant updates whenever new Tweets are posted. “108 more results since you started searching. Refresh to see them,” implores a message below the search box. Enter the topic du jour here and you’ll no doubt find yourself in with more information than you can stand.
This thirst for the new and novel is by no means limited to search, however: It looks set to pervade the entire Web in 2010. Let’s look at a few more examples. :
1. Real-time location
Foursquare, combines real-time updates with location-based features. Every time a friend “checks in” nearby, you’ll experience a buzz from your smart phone to let you know.
Gowalla, a local (Austin ,Texas) competitor to foursquare, whom I personally choose to spend any time I can spare towards geo-location based social networks.
2. Real-time news
News consumption is going real-time, too. An increasing number of early adopters use the Twitter apps TweetDeck and Seesmic to manage their consumption of updates from both friends and handpicked news sources, while newcomer Brizzly is becoming a hit with news & info junkies thanks to its superior Web-based interface.
Even Google Reader, the de facto service for those following scores of blogs and news sites, now provides updates in real-time for those feeds that support it.
3. Real-time comments
Real-time services make blog comments work more like instant messaging: Disqus and JS-Kit provide systems to publishers that display new comments without refreshing the page.
4. Real-time reviews
Why wait till you get home to review that cafe or restaurant when you’ve got Yelp and Urbanspoon on your iPhone? Movie was awful, you say? Try Flixster.
5. Real-time auctions
Even auctions are getting the real-time treatment. While unique visitors to eBay.com are falling, newcomer StuffBuff is making auctions addictive again by turning the bidding process into a real-time chat room; the addition of a countdown timer keeps bidders on their toes.
6. Real-time collaboration
A trend within a trend: We’ll be real-timing together in 2010. Google Wave, the much-hyped collaborative tool, is wiki-meets-instant-messaging-meets-email and much more.
Meanwhile, Present.ly and Yammer are both business collaboration platforms using the Twitter model, a stream of status updates from team members about what each is working on.
I’m pretty sure the trend is here to stay, a vast array of Web sites and applications are trying to capitalize on the real-time Web. They have build business models around serving our need to be engaged in the moment.