The Real Time Web

21 04 2010

I attended a very free-ranging discussion of the Real Time Web last night with the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab group.  There was a panel of speakers from Microsoft (search), Bit.ly, Charles River (VC) and Spinn3r.  First, some Real Time Web numbers:

Production of Data

  • 500,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook
  • 40,000 messages are created on Twitter
  • 1,000 blog posts are published
  • 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube

Consumption of Data

  • 4,000,00 search engine queries
  • 40,000 bit.ly links are clicked
  • 300 BitTorrent files are downloaded

Dr. Andreas Weigend of Stanford estimates that the amount of data on the Internet is doubling every 1.5 years.

What does all of this mean?  One of their more interesting takes was that we are moving from the age of Internet search to the age of Internet discovery; i.e., finding things without knowing exactly what you are looking for.  (Sounds like advanced StumbleUpon.)

Another intriguing question was: How will humans adapt to deal with the literal flood of information coming at them?  Obviously, humans cannot evolve fast enough, so we have to create systems to deal with this problem.  One example is Spinn3r which is a startup focused on indexing and syndicating all the content, particularly in the blogosphere.

Interesting Business Model

Bit.ly.com got started doing a number of geeky things.  They quickly figured out by listening to customers that what customers really wanted was the URL shortener so they greatly simplified their Web page to provide that service.

How do they make money?  They sell analytics to corporate customers.  Bitly URLs are a great way to transparently track who is responding to your messages.

Two Truly Scary New Web Sites

  • One site publishes your buying history (I didn’t catch the name).  Remember when Facebook tried this and there was public outrage about privacy?  Well, these people are signing up to do it.  Mostly the under 45 crowd.  Sounds like “robmyhouse.com!”
  • Unvarnished.comThis is a Web site for people to provide anonymous ratings of professional colleagues. A pretty scary proposition.  Let’s face it, our professional reputations are going to managed by the Internet community.  This will be Yelp for business people.

Interesting Trend

Real Time Social Media will be increasingly used to form ad hoc groups to get things done.

  • At work to find and work with the people who get actual work accomplished.
  • Politically to move beyond parties and create groups of “like-minded people.”

My Observation

We are clearly heading for a period of significant social change and perhaps a bit of turbulence as all of the impact of social media and the real time Web work themselves out.  It reminds me a bit of the USA right after Independence when printing presses were “new technology” and anybody could, and did, say anything.  President Adams was so harried by all this, he passed the now-infamous Alien & Sedition Acts.  I’m not predicting anything like that, but people will communicate and collaborate in completely new ways.

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