Monday, May 04, 2009

Real-Time? You're Late

The Passage of TimeImage by ToniVC via Flickr

Real-time is when things respond to events as they occur, on the Internet this would be the exact time an action is published being equal to the time it takes to view that action. I am intrigued by the direction of the real-time web, being able to view the latest news and participate in conversation as it takes place is exciting.

The Friendfeed experience is the most innovative at the moment with the recent user interface update taking conversation to the next level. I have also written about real-time trends and more recently Paul Buchheist discussing the potential of the real-time web and feel that this has become a significant factor for online discussion now. Twitter have already become a popular mainstream real-time service, breaking news before major outlets.

Facebook announced their real-time intentions today although I feel that it should be referred to as a hang-time because we're prompted to view new posts -
We've always focused the stream on real-time updates, but before today you needed to refresh your browser to see the most recent posts since logging in. The stream now updates automatically and gives you the option to view new posts with a prompt at the top of the page immediately below the Publisher. If you click the prompt, all of the new stories will expand for you to view in your stream ~ Adam Hupp (Facebook Blog)
These changes are being rolled out gradually so expect this to be available everywhere within a few days which is normally the release scenario with Facebook. According to reports the live updates aren't overwhelming to the user which should ensure there isn't a repeat of the homepage feedback earlier in the year. This is not really a significant feature overhaul so I'm sure the transition should filter through unchallenged.

Facebook are slowly implementing real-time functionality to the social networking site, with this being the most common requested feature received for the home page. I'm interested to see what other ways to update the stream will be made available in the future and whether they will fully embrace real-time updates!

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