This Real-Time Web Stuff is Amazing

I’m doing loads of research in preparation for next week’s ReadWrite Real-Time Web Summit and a research report on the same topic. I’ve now talked to 43 companies who are building and/or using real-time technology and have seen some amazing use cases. I wrote about ten use cases last week but as I’m going through my notes now there are three more I wanted to share that illustrate the importance of all this.

  • Real-time data collection is letting scientists find colleagues, related and recommended research in a matter of hours, instead of months or years, using software from a UK company called Mendeley. Mendeley is like iTunes or for scientific research, the company even has the founder of on its team. There will be someone from Mendeley at the Summit, too.
  • Warner Brothers uses an Adobe AIR app they built to track traffic on artists’ websites, media mentions and more, in real time. Catching data spikes in real time allows them to turn on a dime with marketing and product strategies.
  • The RedCross national headquarters (and I’m sure a lot of local offices) use real-time systems to monitor breaking news about disasters around the world and co-ordinate volunteers. Work that used to take weeks is now done in minutes or hours – that means saved lives. Many people at RedCross HQ are subscribers to Breaking News Online, a fascinating service founded by a teenager in the Netherlands and now run by a small, distributed team of scrappy reporters around the world.

All of those organizations are working hard at building even faster systems. Real time doesn’t just let them do things they were already doing faster – it makes entirely new kinds of work possible. That’s what Bret Slatkin, co-creator of real-time protocoal PubSubHubbub says: engineers should build their real-time systems to scale into entirely new use-cases that can’t even be foreseen yet.

This is really exciting, important stuff. I hope you’ll join us at the Real-Time Web Summit to discuss it. If you can’t make it, selected sessions will be live-streamed as well.

  • A few other cool stuff include : and Powered by Superfeedr!

  • rick

    Marshall…. I’d be interested to hear why use cases are better as real-time vs near real-time. The “hours vs weeks” difference is obviously a big change, but a lot of realtime advocates talk as if a 30 minute delay is intolerable. In some cases it might be (disaster warnings for example) but in the case of, say, Mendelay I can’t see any real advantage by having that be realtime vs delayed by a few hours or even a day or two.

  • Marshall

    Rick, that’s a very fair point. In the case of Mendeley, to tell the truth, they are working in near-real-time right now. Literally real-time directions are being explored though and hot scientific research often impacts other research and public policy, so the faster it can be surfaced the better.

  • Pingback: Le facce del real-time web « Marketing For Nerds()

  • You’re right, it’s really great to see the rapidness on search results.