Their growth (Facebook’s and Twitter’s, not the banshees’) has been meteoric and they represent the biggest players not just in “social networking,” but the real-time web.
There’s an outstanding analysis of this real-time web by Robin Good, so we’re not going to do that here. In that article, Robin reminds us of the “immediacy” of Twitter and the inability of the traditional news outlets to get news in our laps with the same speed. It’s a great read, so go do that after reading this.
But the thing is, there will come a day when the real-time web isn’t enough for us.
And given our Western civilization’s attention deficit disorder pandemic, the real-time web won’t be “enough” for us sooner, rather than later.
Just like reading the headlines in the next morning’s paper, or seeing them on the evening news wasn’t enough for us 10 years ago. Even commenting on stories found at sites like CNN, MSNBC, Foxnews, and writing our own blogs hasn’t been enough for us. Reading updates as they’re published on Twitter, being able to participate in instant, citizen journalism, seeing photos tweeted from stirring, right-now events, those will all be almost good enough some day.
We’ll want the next thing.
Now, when you talk about the “next thing,” some focus on the technology. Some say niche communities will take center stage. And some just wonder how much shorter the messages can get. Then you’ve got the search engines, led by Google and some smaller others, aggressively pursuing real-time search.
But I’m not talking about these things. I’m talking about the day that will come where finding out about things as they happen won’t be good enough for us. The next thing we’ll want is knowing about things before they happen.
Don’t worry, I’m not going all Minority Report on you (although there are very recent reports of pre-crime technology being developed and tested). But I can’t help but imagine that we will at some point crave “news” that’s about to happen, possibly so we can dig right in with jumping to our own conclusions.
And I’m sure there will be a free web app for all that.
If not, what’s next after real-time? And will you jump onboard that bandwagon, too?