2009-9-12 Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: The Re…
Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: The Real-Time Web
Written by Richard MacManus / September 8, 2009 4:35 AM / 16 Comments « Prior Post Next Post »
This week ReadWriteWeb (http://www.readwriteweb.com) is running a series of posts analyzing the 5 biggest, most cutting edge
Web trends to come out of 2009. We're posting one trend analysis per day. Then at the end of the week we'll publish a major
update to our standard presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/ricmac/readwriteweb-presentation-dec08-presentation) about web
Our opening post was about Structured Data
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_5_web_trends_of_2009_structured_data.php) . In this article we look at probably diggs
the most hyped trend of 2009: the Real-Time Web
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/introduction_to_the_real_time_web.php) . It has become a core part of many Internet products
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/five_sites_that_let_your_experience_the_real-time.php) this year: Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, Google,
Delicious, Wordpress, and many others.
What is the Real-Time Web?
Ken Fromm wrote an insightful primer to the Real-Time Web (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_real-time_web_a_primer_part_1.php) for
ReadWriteWeb. In it he explained that the Real-Time Web is a new form of communication, it creates a new body of content, it's immediate,
it's public and has an explicit social graph associated with it, and it carries an implicit model of federation.
One of the early leaders in the Real-Time Web was FriendFeed (http://friendfeed.com/) , a lifestreaming service that became popular with early
adopters. Co-founder Paul Buchheit (who also built the first version of Gmail, during his time at Google) told ReadWriteWeb in May
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_man_who_made_gmail_says_real-time_conversation.php) that "the open, real-time discussions that occur
on FriendFeed are going to become a major new communication medium on the same level as email, IM and blogging."
Everything is Real-Time Now
We must of course begin our product overview with Twitter (http://twitter.com) . In March this year the super-trendy
microblogging service marked its 3rd birthday. As Marshall Kirkpatrick explained at the time, it's really the story of
Twitter as a platform (http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2009/03/the-twitter-platform-3-years-old-and-ready-to-change-
the-world.php) that is most exciting.
However the Real-Time Web is much more than Twitter. It has changed the products and strategies of almost every
major Internet company in 2009.
Google may have missed the early action
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/sorry_google_you_missed_the_real_time_web.php) , but by May 2009 co-founder
Larry Page was proclaiming that Google had to do a better job
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/larry_page_on_real_time_google_we_have_to_do_it.php) of being real-time. It's
started that process. For example Google is behind a project called PubSubHubbub (http://code.google.com/p/pubsubhubbub/) , which delivers
RSS feeds much faster (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_10_most_exciting_web_apps.php) (near real-time). PubSubHubbub is already
making Google Reader faster (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/speeding_the_feed_google_reader_and_pubsubhubbub.php) .
But while you're waiting for Google search to become truly real-time, you can at least add Twitter results to it with this plug-in
In March, Facebook launched a site redesign
2009-9-12 Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: The Re…
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_announces_new_homepages.php) emphasizing a real-time stream of
updates on users' homepages. Although this was unpopular with users
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebooks_users_dont_like_change.php) , Facebook continued to dabble in Real-Time. In June, Facebook
announced a new search interface (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/where_does_real-time_matter.php) allowing users to search for content
from people, organizations, and other public figures as soon as they share it on Facebook. This was described as "up-to-the-minute" search
results - in other words a real-time search engine.
Meanwhile in April, FriendFeed (http://friendfeed.com/) introduced a revamped user interface
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_new_friendfeed_real-time_direct_messages_better_filters.php) that focused much
more on real-time updates than previously. The most impressive change was the new advanced filters, which made it
a lot easier for users to create streams based on keywords, groups, sets of friends and more. FriendFeed's filters added something powerful
to the Real-Time Web.
In August, Facebook further strengthened its Real-Time chops by acquiring FriendFeed
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_just_bought_friendfeed.php) . This immediately brought more real-time sophistication into the
Facebook family (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_users_-_heres_what_friendfeed_brings_to_t.php) - we're yet to see how Facebook
will use it though.
In August Yahoo's influential social bookmarking service Delicious (http://delicious.com/) was re-born as a real-time news
tracker (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/delicious_reborn_as_real_time_news_tracker.php) . It launched a new home
page, combining recent tagging activity and cross-referenced links on Twitter.
The real-time updates continue... earlier today, all blogs on the WordPress.com platform and any WordPress.org
blogs that opt-in will now make instant updates available to any RSS readers
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/wordpress_just_made_millions_of_blogs_real-time_wi.php) subscribed to a new
feature called RSSCloud (http://rsscloud.org/) .
In May, Marshall Kirkpatrick identified three forms of value from the Real-Time Web
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/three_models_of_value_in_the_real_time_web.php) : ambiance, automation and emergence. In August,
Bernard Lunn compared it to the real-time world of the trader
The Real-Time Web is all of those things and more. 2009 has in many ways been the Year of the Real-Time Web. But it's early days 476
yet, because we - collectively - are still looking for ways to use all of that extra real-time data. We've made a lot of data real-time and tweets
surfaced it in search and our filters. But what new applications and intelligence can we build off this data? That question will be retw eet
answered over the coming few years.
ReadWriteWeb's Top 5 Web Trends of 2009:
1. Structured Data
2. The Real-Time Web
4. Mobile Web & Augmented Reality
5. Internet of Things
Subscribe to comments for this post OR Subscribe to comments for time search results.posts
1. Real time web means twitter Google really lacks showing real all ReadWriteWeb
Posted by: venkat | September 8, 2009 5:25 AM
2. Nice overview of this concept and associated technologies - btw this series of posts on the top web trends is interesting, and differs from pure
product coverage you'd tend to find on many tech blogs...
I respectfully disagree with the lack of use cases you mention for all this real-time data though. I'd like to think Twitscoop (and other twitter discovery
tool) is/are a good example of real-time content / news discovery powered by the data we collectively produce.
2009-9-12 Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: The Re…
Posted by: Pete | September 8, 2009 5:36 AM
3. I really don't understand how any of the companies you have mentioned are part of some new emergent "real-time web". The web has always been
real-time, or as close to it as technology would allow. Over time, technology improves, so we should expect latency times to decrease. There isn't
some new media format evolving, it's just that tech is getting better, and people are becoming more comfortable using tech. Ken Fromm's definition
of the "real-time web" is overblown and misguided. Can we please stop focusing on marketing jargon as if it represents legitimate entities.
Posted by: anon | September 8, 2009 5:45 AM
4. And Google Wave?
Posted by: Adriano Brand | September 8, 2009 6:15 AM
5. Real time is real useful when there are only a few players.
When many start speaking, it becomes difficult to get something interesting from the noise.
I feel, a few players knowing how to use the technology would make real-time services go distances
It doesn't mean only a few chunk of the entire population need to use the technology but only a few chunk of people connected together, a small
Twitter already is becoming very noisy.
A small network of people using the technology wisely would be the call.
Posted by: Ganesh | September 8, 2009 6:58 AM
6. Yeah, what about Google Wave?
Posted by: kovshenin | September 8, 2009 7:44 AM
As you said, read-time web is truly a phenomenon right now though the name is still a little bit awkward.
On the other hand, however, if everything is real time, nothing is real time. The real time information is valuable only if there are plenty of its
opposite, not-real-time information. The true value is the utility that may carry the real time to the lasting time. Otherwise, real time could just be short
For the Web researchers and developers, I have just posted a brief list of issues about the real time web that they may be interested in learning.
Nonetheless, I agree to you that the real-time web must be a major Web trend at present that we need to study carefully.
Posted by: Yihong Ding | September 8, 2009 8:02 AM
8. Thanks for this excellent review. I knew some of these but certainly not all of them.
Posted by: Fabian Pattberg | September 8, 2009 11:26 AM
9. anon said: "The web has always been real-time, or as close to it as technology would allow."
I disagree. With products like Twitter and Friendfeed, we've seen a new class of content producing and aggregation products - and they produce
more, smaller and *faster* bits of content than previously.
Plus look at the changes Google and Facebook, for example, have gone through this year - which I illustrated in this post.
As for Google Wave, that hasn't been released yet.
Pete good point re Twitscoop. Would love to know of more products like that, that make use of real-time web data.
Posted by: Richard MacManus | September 8, 2009 12:42 PM
10. Regarding Delicious and the real-time discussion, I did some thinking on the evolution of site this summer and its move to track number of tweets. It's
a huge shift for a service that started out focused on bookmarking, AKA finding older stuff to use later, to jump on the real-time boat so it can start
saving AND sharing what's happening NOW.
Delicious is the kind of service relies on people to take action and bookmark, so essentially it is using real-time results to find important or relevant
information faster, to then add them to the social-bookmark-osphere
Posted by: Charlie | September 8, 2009 1:07 PM
11. I agree with yihong's post, it's a subset of the web, not a whole new thing. He also makes many other great points, uncooked data for instance. What
are you telling me, that a search engine applied over Twitter is going to help me do a paper on Ancient Egypt? Give me a break. I want Wiki for that,
or some other source, not a bunch of twits talking about whatever topic of the day is a Trending Topic.
It's like water cooler conversation, great to see what's on people's minds, Iraq Elections, etc, but not so great for getting solid references or factual
definitions, or, you name it. For that, I want Google, or some search engine hitting all the traditional web pages.
Posted by: Don | September 8, 2009 1:57 PM
12. have examined a great system, very well thank you google
2009-9-12 Top 5 Web Trends of 2009: The Re…
Posted by: Dans | September 8, 2009 2:16 PM
I agree that services like Twitter and FriendFeed are producing more and smaller bits of content, but I don't see how this represents a "new class" of
content. Yes, Google and Facebook are piggybacking on these efforts, but they aren't really building anything new. Instead, they are just tweaking
existing formats. Essentially what you describe as the real-time web is traditional content publishing, but centralized and within the social graph -
something that has existed and been growing for over a decade now. The content generated doesn't represent some new emergent form, rather it is
indicative of the laziness and short attention spams that have come to dominate how users interact with the web. In other words, it is simply blogging
pared down. The speed at which aggregation can occur isn't of some new breed, rather it is a natural progression of technological growth, and a
direct result of centralized publication (something that can lead to problems - see Twitter outages/Facebook privacy issues/XSS worms/etc.). I agree
that the social graph, combined with short form publishing is leading us to a more real-time web, but again, this is a natural progression and not
some revelation that we should look at in awe. That's not saying there are no benefits in the products you mention, just that the response should be
In addition, I think (HOPE) we will find over time that what matters is the quality of information, not the quantity. My prediction is that the "real-time
web" you mention will both fuel the next cycle and eventually be the next cycle's downfall. What we seem to have here is a lot of jargon, a lot of hype,
a lot of selling, and no ROI. It's a shame that we can't learn from history.
Posted by: anon | September 8, 2009 4:21 PM
14. the genius of twitter is the retweet imo, it allows you to easily promote someone else while still getting credit for being the one who retweeted
Posted by: Adelaide DJ | September 8, 2009 4:48 PM
15. Real time web is Not what i was thinking about web 2.0.
I was just thinking about better apps. Kind of like make the internet work like a really fast Iphone.
Something along those lines. The internet is changing in a way that i can't handle.
There are going to be too many voices going on that want your attention.
It's not gonna deliver. It won't stand.
Posted by: Smack_Deuce | September 8, 2009 5:43 PM
16. Not sure that it really matters whether it's a subset of the WWW or a completely new Web--from a user's point of view, it really changes things. I wrote
a blog post on my experience of the real-time web during the Iranian demonstrations, because it struck me as so powerful and so intuitive and so
different from other media experiences I'd had before. In five years these kinds of experiences will probably be commonplace, but for now they feel
like the start of something new. The explosion of tools for aggregating and filtering these streams is evidence not of "just another hype cycle," but of
people getting genuinely excited about what can be done with real-time distributed information generation.
Posted by: Lyn | September 8, 2009 7:20 PM