Yesterday, the Real Time Web Summit hosted by Read/Write Web took place in Mountain View, CA. What's the Real Time Web? Here's a good basic definition from the introductory post on the Read Write Web Blog:
Real-time information delivery is fast emerging as one of the most important elements of our online experience. No more waiting for the Pony Express to deliver a parcel cross-country, no more waiting for web services to communicate from one polling instance to another. This is information being available to you at nearly the moment it's produced, whether you're watching for it or not.
My colleague, Marshall Kirkpatrick, who works with Read/Write Web, had invited me to participate, but I was at another convening about network strategy and evaluation scheduled at the same time.
With Real Time Web, you could possibly be in two places at the same time, maybe not physically. I could have sat in the convening on network strategy and evaluation, but also have dipped into Real Time Web Summit live stream. There are trade-offs. This multitasking would have robbed me of deep learning of anything about either topic. That's why I decided not to follow RTWS in, well real time.
There is value in "almost real time." that is circling back to the real time information shortly after the event to pick out some ideas to chew on.
Reading the "ant trails" of information coming from a conference or event when you're not actually in th eroom doesn't provide you with the optimal learning experience. It's partly because you can't make the face-to-face connection and that deeper understanding you'd have from being the room and getting the full context. It's a mediated experience.
Also, coming back to ant trails if you were not participating in real time can be really overwhelming to make meaning of the information (unless you are already an expert on the topic.) Of course, I could save a huge amount of time and information overload and just order Read/Write Web's Report on Real Time Web, print a hard copy, and read it.
I probably shouldn't get too much further in this blog post without asking myself why I'm interested in this topic at all and raise a skeptic question:
- Does Real Time Web have any value or benefit to nonprofits?
I'm not sure why this topic caught my attention. Yes, there is a delicious list of tools to explore which include some of my favorite types of tools - aggregation, analytics, monitoring, collaboration, blogging, microblogging, and more!
My interest just isn't in the tools. I think there are some definite social implications that interest me:
- Speed and quality of information
- Constant stream of information - where do get a chance to reflect? Or does that happen in real time?
- How does having a shorter time for reflection change learning?
- How does this change our brains and the way we process information or even learn? Is it good or bad for humans?
- It adds more choices, how do we filter, prioritize, etc.
- How do we sift through this information effectively to get what need for learning, action, content creation, etc?
- How does this change our connectedness on online social networks?
- What are the implications for security and privacy?
I don't think these are necessarily evil. What interests me is if this is the next evolution of the social web - what is the culture shift that needs to happen within a nonprofit to embrace it? Of course, I want to also know what the value or benefit is to nonprofits? Real Time Web for nonprofits is early adopter land right now .. just saying.
Rob Cottingham, one of my favorite stand up comics, cartoon artists, and social media/nonprofit gurus, got to attend the Real Time Web Summit. He "cartoon blogged" the event. Here's some links: