Chasing Real-Time Refreshless Updates


Everyone with a Facebook account is now more than used to letting the world know what's on their mind.


In September of 2006, not so much. What today is a simple way to check-up on friends, was once seen as unnecessary and even scary. When Facebook first rolled out its stream of feeds, some revolted. A few with common sense argued otherwise. Regardless of what who you agreed with back then no longer matters today, because in 2009, information trumps ignorance and immediacy trumps waiting. 



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The privacy concerns of the past will never go away, but the urgency of now has definitely reduced their importance. The online communication revolution that started with things like Geocities web pages, mIRC chat rooms, and ICQ instant messages, has now become dozens of proven platforms and hundreds of useful interfaces from which we can share opinions, articles, pictures, videos and music in very near real-time from all kinds of devices and from anywhere in the world.


Facebook is one platform. Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are others. We don't need to actually go to any of these sites to experience some of what they offer though. We can already post from Twitter to Facebook, and send blog posts to either one. We can obtain RSS feeds from all of these and read them on sites like Netvibes.


Tweetdeck lets us stay in touch with our contacts on Twitter and Facebook without ever having to open a browser. Seesmic Desktop does the same and maybe faster. FriendFeed is yet another option that keeps you informed about what your "friends" are doing and from all kinds of sources (ie Flickr, Disqus, Google Reader, etc.)


All of these promise to keep us completely up-to-date at all times. And they hope to do so while minimizing or ending the need to press the "refresh" button.


   With Facebook being expected to make some anncouncements very soon (see update below!), the race to real-time sharing of information accelerates.  According to the Wall Street Journal,


"Facebook is expected to announce significant plans to open up core parts of its sites -- namely the information that appears in the stream of updates on users' homepages and profiles -- to third-party developers so that they can build new services on top of it.."




We can expect a more open Facebook to allow for a lot more apps/tools/sites to pop out of nowhere and give us even more reason to stay current and live our lives in real-time.


Let's just hope that the availability of too much information doesn't make it impossible to make sense or use of it. The last thing we need is to have to tighten up more security settings while having to skim though unimportant status updates... in slow-motion.


UPDATE: Facebook has officially opened up its Stream API. Seesmic Desktop will soon support "not only status updates (from Facebook) but all its content (pics, links, videos, likes and comments)." Note that Facebook users ultimately make the decision to provide their news feeds to apps like Seesmic.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.