Tag Archives: real-time

Real-Time is Burying History on the Web

[fr] Notre obsession pour le temps présent en ligne et la vitesse handicape grandement nos outils de recherche quand il s'agit d'explorer notre passé numérique. A lire, l'article de Suw Sacrificing Web History on the Alter of Instant, un compte-rendu consternant de l'état lamentable de nos outils de recherche pour la passé récent (l'éruption du volcan Eyjafjöll, en l'occurrence).

Plus près du commun des mortels peut-être que ces considérations d'historiens du web: Twitter ne nous donne accès qu'à nos 3000 tweets les plus récents. Les autres sont là, archivés, même en ligne si on connaît leur URL -- mais inaccessibles même à leur producteur.

I am somebody who believes that history is an extraordinarily important asset in trying to understand our present. Unfortunately, when we are too focused on the future, and innovation, and moving ahead, it’s very easily to neglect history.

I’ve seen it as a characteristic of developing countries (sweeping generalization here, stop me if I’m wrong), with the thoughtless chopping down of centenarian trees and bulldozing of historical monuments in Bangalore. What’s important is where we’re going — we don’t really care about where we came from, and in some cases, would rather forget.

And we’re seeing it now in the hyper-technological cutting-edge world of the internet, where web history is being sacrificed on the altar of instant (do read Suw Charman‘s excellent post and then come back here).

A year and a bit ago, the theme of LeWeb’09 in Paris was “Real-Time Web”, and indeed, everybody was a-buzz with everything real-time. So much so that I had to give that year’s official bloggers a little wake-up call (I blogged it later) a day before the conference, because I was hearing increasingly worrisome comments (to my “official bloggers’ mom” ears) along the lines of “well, I actually don’t think I’ll blog much this year, I’ll mainly be tweeting”. I was interviewed about something along the lines of “curating the real-time stream” by my friend Cathy Brooks (there’s a priceless moment in that video, watch it), and overall, everything was about now, now, now, now now nownownownownownow.

I’m tired of real-time.

It feels to me as if we’re driving with our nose in the steering-wheel, never stopping long enough to look behind us and see what road we’re on and where it’s really heading. I’ve noted over the last year or so that a lot of our content is migrating into these real-time flowy presency streamy services, and that some of the precious tools we had to make sense of our online publications are all but dead, like Technorati.

But link rot aside, it’s all still there online. And that makes it all the more frustrating to know that we just don’t have a way of getting to it in a useful way, as Suw describes very well in her article. In response, Reg Chua points out that search is skewed towards speed and the present — a perfect corollary to our obsession with real-time and progress.

My tweets from day 1 (December 8, 2006 with a lot of enthusiasm) are still online somewhere. Here’s the oldest one I could lay my hands on (the podcast in question was Fresh Lime Soda), thanks to the wayback machine (if you go down that alley, note how we get a peek at what early tweeting was like in pre-hashtag times). It makes it all the more maddening that they are impossible to access if I don’t have a link to them. Twitter has them, they’re there, but they’re not organized in a way that makes them of any use.

Sidenote: this blog post is moving from “lack of access to general online history” to “lack of access to personal online history”, which is a subset of the problem.

Within that “personal online history” subset of the problem, let me state that I find it a disgrace that Twitter will not even let its users download a copy of their own data in the service, barring the last 3000 tweets.

I understand the need to restrict access to the huge number of tweets in the database for general use. I get that. But I don’t get why I should not be able to do a one-time download of what I put in the service.

I hate the expression data theft because when you take data, you always leave a copy somewhere (and theft removes the copy), but in this case, this is what it feels like. Twitter has my data and can do stuff with it, and I can’t. That just doesn’t feel right. (And don’t wave the “Twitter is free, don’t complain” argument in my face: just like Suw, I would be more than ready to pay for Twitter as a service, but they won’t let me.)

Away from Twitter and back to our obsession with real-time and what it is doing to our history: where are the online historians? who is going to build the tools we need to dig through the tremendous wealth of data online? the buzzword of 2011 seems to be “curator”: well, we don’t just need curators to avoid getting knocked over by the firehose of the real-time web — we also need curators (preferably machines) to help us organise and sort through our online history.

 

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Posted in Thinking, Tools | Tagged history, real-time, Research, search, tools, twitter, web | 3 Comments

Don’t You Tire of Real-Time?

[fr] Tout ce temps réel sur le web me fatigue. On néglige les expressions plus profondes que permet le web, sur nos blogs par exemple.

I find that I’m increasingly tired with real-time. Keeping up with the stream. Living on the cutting-edge. I like diving into deeper explorations that require me to step out of the real-time stream of tweets and statuses and IRC and IM conversations.

I like reading and writing.

I’ve never been much of a “news” person — and I know that my little self and my little blog have no chance of competing with the Techcrunches and ReadWriteWebs and GigaOms that seem to be all over the place now.

Life is real-time enough. I like spending time on the web like in a book.

I still love Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and all the transient stuff that’s floating around — but sometimes I feel like I let myself get lost in it.

Once again, I’m back here, on my blog.

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Posted in Blogging, On Writing | Tagged blog, blogging, life, real-time, realtime, web | 4 Comments

Another Video: Relevance and Curation of the Real-Time Web

[fr] Une autre vidéo de moi en train d'essayer désespérément de dire quelque chose d'intelligent en réponse à des questions perplexantes, avec un cerveau grillé.

Also last December, I was interviewed by Cathy Brooks about relevance and curation of the real-time stream. In the Paris Metro, this time!

So if you enjoy watching me struggle on video while trying to answer questions, knock yourself out :-)

Disclaimer: I was exhausted and my brain was fried — actually, we all were… see if you can spot Dana at the beginning of the video (it was during LeWeb’09).

(By the way, am I missing something, or has it become impossible to embed a YouTube video under 500 pixels wide? My layout only fits 500px, as you can see…)

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Posted in Does This Need a New Category?, Social Media and the Web | Tagged cathy brooks, curation, interview, real-time, relevance, stephanie booth, video | Leave a comment

Live-Blogging vs. Live-Tweeting at Conferences

[fr] Live-tweeter une conférence, c'est l'équivalent d'être actif dans le backchannel IRC de la belle époque des conférences de blogs. Il n'y a rien de mal à ça, mais il ne faut pas confondre ça avec le live-blogging: en effet, passés quelques jours, semaines, mois ou même années, qui va replonger son nez dans le fouillis des tweets ou des logs IRC de telle ou telle journée? Comparez ça avec un article sur un blog, qui sera lu, relu, et encore relu -- qui conserve donc sa valeur une fois que l'excitation du temps réel est passée.

One of the things bloggers brought with them when they started attending conferences is live coverage. Unlike the traditional press, which would provide you with a summary of the proceedings the next day, bloggers would be madly photographing, taking notes, uploading, and hitting publish in the minutes following the end of a presentation.

Live-blogging was born.

(For my personal history with it, see my BlogTalk 2.0 posts (2004) about collaborative note-taking using SubEthaEdit and a wiki, and my notes of LIFT06 (2006). Real proper live-blogging had to wait until LIFT’07 and Martin Roell’s workshop on getting started with consulting (2007), however.)

Then Twitter showed up, and everybody started a-tweeting, and more particularly live-tweeting during conferences.

But live-tweeting does not replace live-blogging. It replaces the IRC backchannel, allowing people to comment on what is going on as it happens, and letting people who are not physically present take part in the fun.

(I’m not going to talk about backchannels here: they’re great, but can also have unpleasant consequences in certain situations. A whole series of blog posts could be devoted to them.)

So when bloggers at conferences neglect their blogs and spend all their time live-tweeting, they are in fact fooling around in the backchannel instead of doing what bloggers do, which is produce content which retains value months, sometimes years, after it was published.

Don’t get me wrong: live-tweeting is fine, so is participation in a more traditional IRC-based backchannel. But don’t confuse it with live-blogging.

Tweets of the moment, just like IRC conversations, tend to be great when consumed in real time. But as the days and weeks go by, they become just as pleasant to read as an IRC log. (Understand: not pleasant at all.)

So, dear bloggers, when you’re at a conference to provide coverage, do not forget who you are. Not everybody is a live-blogger, of course, and some produce very valuable writing about an event they attended once they are home and have allowed the dust to settle.

But tweeting does not replace blogging.

Do you think I got my point across, now? ;-)

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Posted in Blogging, Event Musings, Thinking | Tagged backchannel, blogs, coverage, Events, immediacy, IRC, live-blogger, live-blogging, liveblogging, real-time, time, tweeting, twitter | 16 Comments