Coming Soon — My Real Time Web Jeremiad

The frothiness around the real-time web is starting to devolve into silliness, and I want to write about this in greater depth over the long weekend.

But here are three initial thoughts:

1. Twitter and FriendFeed and other real-time tools could go away tomorrow, and most of us could still use the web just fine. If Google went away tomorrow, it would be a major inconvenience and potentially a disaster. We’re just not dependent on these things the way we’re dependent on Google, and we’re not likely to ever be dependent on them.

I think that says something.

2. I think one useful analogy is the relationship between online chat and e-mail. Chat is real time, e-mail is latent.

Chat of course is important, and useful. But it didn’t kill e-mail. Not even close — read the latest Pew studies and e-mail is as critical and important as ever.

The real-time web technologies are important, and might be useful. But to claim that this is the next great wave, that it might replace search, that Google is imperiled by it in some way, is more or less horseshit.

3. The big revolution — one we’re still in — started in 2002-3 with the creation and mass-market adoption of tools and services that allow us all to publish our own content, and to share content with each other. I mean the advent of easy-to-use publishing tools (blogs, flickr, YouTube, etc), social networks, services like Digg, feed readers. Twitter is a part of this wave, and an important part.

It is this revolution that most challenges Google — a proliferation of tools and services that allow us to find good content through other people. Some of these services and tools have real-time web components, some don’t — that’s an aspect of the revolution, not the center of it.


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