There’s absolutely no denying that this year on the web, for many companies, realtime is the dream to chase. We are moving at a frightening rate towards the web being more and more integrated with our everyday lives and it closely reflecting whats happening in the world, here and now. Furthermore with the growth of the Mobile web, and the iPhone being synonymous with that – this information is being delivered to us faster than ever before.
The explosion of micro-blogging and the “statusphere” being exponentially more up-to-date than the blogosphere, because of its size, has meant that more companies are focusing on a “less is more approach” to their business, in order to compete. Investors are also betting their bottom dollar on real-time being where the money is to be made online.
It’s easier to receive 10 microupdates from a website visitor, than it is to ask them for a paragraph of text. It’s very much a lower barrier to entry on user generated content.
This post examines some of the developments online recently to back up that this really is the year for real-time online.
Twitter continues to lead the way for real-time information. With the mass adoption of the platform, it has become a place where news breaks first. For many users it is where they heard it first about Michael Jackson, or indeed a natural disaster.
To highlight how their focus has changed; Twitter have recently rolled out a redesign of their homepage to now integrate a search box ala Google. Clearly they feel this is where the wins are to be had.
But with the mass of information being collated on a daily basis they are positioning themselves at the fore-front of real-time search.
Sister in the micro-blogging world Friendfeed have developed a new protocol to replace RSS. Move over pull technologies, its time for push to kick your ass. Essentially for those geeks amongst you simple update protocol sits on top of RSS in a JSON-based meta format. Updates are then downloaded as needed. Friendfeed was setup by two ex-Googlers.
FriendFeed in turn, has recently been acquired by Facebook – another platform which is busy getting into the micro-blogging sphere.
After their recent acquisition of Friendfeed – Facebook also announced recently that they have rolled out a Facebook lite version, containing a subset of the features available on their platform. Guess what, it pretty much looks like Twitter, with the updates section featuring heavily. Their search facility has also been improved to include real-time information, including pictures. Twitter currently concentrates solely on text based content.
Not to be outdone in getting in on the real-time action, the WordPress community have created a WP-SUP plugin that will post information in real-time to FriendFeed. This plugin uses the simple update protocol to post real time updates to Friendfeed direct from blogs. There’s also a plugin for PubSubHubbub. See below.
My guess is that over time, something less specific to FriendFeed will be integrated into the core.
PubSubHubbub is another protocol playing a part in real-time on the web. Superfeedr is one such company to implement it. The recent updates rolled out to Google’s RSS Reader, also implement it to push data between friends. They’ve also implemented in in Feedburner.
Google wave was announced earlier this year. Described as real-time email on crack, it allows real time collaboration. Instead of waiting for emails to arrive, its like a mix between email, facebook and an IM client. When a message gets sent, it gets instantly delivered at the other side.
In response to all of the above developments, and facing further pressure – Google quietly launched caffeine earlier this week, before it spluttered off the web after receving too many requests. It touts a faster experience and also a more comprehensive search. The inclusion of Twitter results in Caffeine whilst adding a depth to Google’s new results, still have to be crawled, which doesn’t make it just as speedy as its rival.