Saturday, October 17, 2009
Do you remember when you were a kid and would dream what the fantastic future would hold? What was it you wished for? Flying cars? Holodecks? Time travel? Being able to be teletransported like on Star Trek?
I'm guessing that for most of us, our wildest dreams didn't include having access to all of the world's information RIGHT NOW.
But that's what we're getting. Are you ready for it?
The Real Time Web
I recently attended the fascinating ReadWriteWeb summit on the development of the Real Time Web, where the general consensus is that the future is NOW. Literally. Your future will be comprised of instant updates on breaking news, your kid's homework assignments, traffic conditions, weather, stocks,sports scores and play-by-play, what your friends ate for lunch, political developments, and much, much more, all sent auto magically to the electronic device of your choice.
You can know everything happening everywhere all at the same time.
Twitter is a good example of the real time web in action, albeit just one facet. It's an amazing source of thoughts, information, news, mundane happenings and the buzz of the hive. Now you can know when protesters are being shot as it happens in Iran, what a congressman is thinking while the President is talking, get pictures the instant an airplane lands in the Hudson River and follow real-time discussion and presentations in a conference that you couldn't attend in person.
You can also know the moment that Miley Cyrus decides that she is tired of Twitter and quits it, what Shaquile O'Neal is doing this afternoon or see video of a balloon NOT containing a child making its way across Colorado.
Do You Have The Need To Know?
It's heady stuff, and to be honest, I'm not sure that I really need to know everything going on in the world RIGHT NOW. I asked conference organizer Marshall Kirkpatrick a few questions about how this will affect the 'average' internet user, and he was gracious enough to respond in this video.
I'm curious though--can you think of when you NEED to know information RIGHT NOW? Are we overloading ourselves with too much information?
From my point of view, while having some information in real time is useful, it's rarely vital. And there's the problem of filtering--how to determine which information is important and which is trivial.
With the real time web, Neda is given the same importance as balloon boy, because it's the trending topic and what everyone is talking about. And that's just not right. I think that the constant flow of information trivializes all of it, because one bit of news is replaced by another in just a few minutes.
What about you? Is the real time web useful in your life? Is a real time web what you want your future to be--or would you really rather have that flying car?