Is Information at the Speed of Light Better?

Sep 8 09

Is Information at the Speed of Light Better?

Paul Weinstein

A couple of weeks ago I started
following Dave Winer on Twitter and the discussion about the
relevancy of RSS and RSS updates in “real-time” has lead me to
ask a simply question that I have yet to see asked: Is all this
“real-time” communication even necessary?

What are you talking about, I hear some
of you asking? Ok, here’s the deal, Dave Winer is one of the
developers of RSS. RSS is a file format that allows for the
dissemination of web content, usually blogs, to be discoverable and
readable by others online. That is not everyone goes to my website,
on a daily basis to see if I’ve posted a new article. Many people use
an aggregator that “subscribes” to a “news feed” provided on
my site
. When a new article posts, it appears in their aggregator at
which point it can be read. All of this depends on RSS.

Supposedly, however, RSS is dead. Or at
least RSS is dying. Why? Well because it takes time for the
propagation of new posts to appear in one’s aggregator/reader. Of
course time is relative and one has to reconcile the
illusion of faster
with the actuality of faster, but for some it seems RSS takes too much
time compared to status updates. Why should my readers wait for their
aggregator when I can tell them right away on Twitter or Facebook?

But wait, RSS isn’t dying, rssCloud
will save it by speeding up the notification process for RSS feeds

But, wait. Wait, I ask. Why do we need
really fast (or the appearance thereof) in the first place? I’m mean
think about it, phone calls, emails, status updates, news feeds. All
of this is running really fast, probably as close to instantaneous as
we many ever be able to get.

And what do we all end up doing? We all
end up developing with personal tricks and time management decisions about how
to best process all this information. We allot Monday mornings to
catching up on Facebook. We flag emails for levels of priority and we
filter phone calls based on caller id.

Why? Well because my time, schedule and
level of interest is different from yours. That doesn’t mean I’m
ignoring you, it just means, well, I’ve got something else on my

Which brings me back to my initial
question for us developers and users: Do all of these different
types of communication have to be in real-time? Is it necessary?