Over the last two weeks I’ve interviewed people from 32 different companies working on building, leveraging or otherwise engaging with what’s called The Real-Time Web. It’s preparation for ReadWriteWeb’s forthcoming Real-Time Web Summit (I hope you’ll come) and a research report on the same topic.
Believe it or not, Twitter is not the primary topic of all these conversations (thank goodness) but it does come up a lot both literally and as a metaphor. Many of the conversations aren’t even about social networking, but many of them are. User experience and the streams through which real-time data often gets delivered are things I’ve been talking with people about a lot.
In one of those conversations, Kevin Marks (formerly of Technorati and Google, now at British Telecom) told me the following: he believes that Twitter is more likely to be interesting than television because we opt-in to particular streams of other peoples’ updates that we find interesting. That creates a positive feedback loop that encourages us to contribute something interesting in return and thus the ecosystem trends towards higher quality content. Do you agree with that?
Marks also said this was an advantage that Twitter and other opt-in subscription-stream formats have over things like YouTube comments. What of the “I don’t care what you ate for breakfast” critique of Twitter? Marks says that’s just people who have an antiquated view of what belongs “in public,” based on a time when content had to go through expensive publishing processes before being broadcast to the public and thus had to be unusually important to be worth it.
This is just one of several user experience related conversations I’ve been having about real-time streams, but I found it quite interesting. I like this theory. I’m not sure whether I agree with it or not (Kevin, let me know if I’ve mischaracterized what you meant) but I’d really like to know what others think.