The Rediscovery of the Web

Oh you’re on Twitter now? Really, this has gotten insane.  Every TV show.  Every News source.  Every post. Over the last 6 months, while we were following everyone on Twitter from the NSF’s announcements to JPeterman’s prose, we’ve seen an explosion in something called the ‘real-time web’. This brings the rise of people beginning to discuss good questions like how do these systems like twitter help people organize protests? or what can we learn about H1N1 by following where people are mentioning it in under 140 characters. If you detect any sarcasm here, there is a little. Two things to remember. First – I heard this before except ‘twitter’ was replaced with ‘sms’ and ‘friends’ were replaced with ‘address book contacts’. (Think back to the protests in France several years ago.) In fact, much of the work from CSCW that we’ve seen over the past 10 years shows everything from design constraints to their social concern. Second – this is about as ‘real-time’ as adding a buddy on MySpace is actually a ‘friend’; more on real social interactions vs adding buddies later.

As Naaman knows, I have been working on Zync, a real-time synchronous sharing system, for a few years now. Google Wave seems to be also pushing on this quite a bit as well. Before that You-Tube made a ‘pretty pointless’ attempt. Wave and Zync share a similar beat. The act of sharing is a first class design consideration; this is to say we start with the point ‘I’d like to share this with Naaman now’ (for example)…this really says ‘I want to spend some time with Naaman’. Otherwise, I’d just email the video or the map or whatever. I wonder if our nouns and verbs are evolving to match the pivot to real-time?

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