How the realtime web changes the world

At Twingly, we are big fans of the realtime web. Well, that shouldn’t come as a surprise since some of our services are built around it – like Twingly Live and Twingly Channels.

The interesting thing with the realtime web is that it is more and more becoming an integral part of the web. People are taking for granted that it is there, without thinking about it. While the term “realtime web” always has been used mainly by web enthusiasts and geeks, the idea of user generated content published in (near) realtime through platforms like Twitter, Facebook or others that allow for instant status updates and search, has spilled over into the Internet mainstream. Considering that Facebook is close to reach 500 million active users and having in mind that the social network encourages people to publish content to the public, it’s very likely that the publicly accessible realtime web is now being populated by hundreds of millions of people.

The contribution of web users all over the world to the continuous stream of information has become an important part of many people’s web usage. And search engines and services like Twitter Search, Snap BirdOneRiot, Tweetmeme, Openbook or even Google and Bing enable anyone to tap into this realtime stream, to see what people are talking right now, which links they are sharing – yes, in fact even to get an overview about the mood of people, right now and by looking back and aggregating status updates.

While most people are aware of the new possibilities and usage patterns triggered by social networks, blogging and microblogging, I’m not sure if everyone has thought about the consequences all this could have on societies and economies.

It’s worth to take a minute and to think about the way the realtime web is changing the world. That sounds like big words, but it might not be exaggerated. The realtime web makes it possible for people to organize without formal leader. We have seen in a few non-democratic countries how Twitter was used as a tool to avoid censorship, to spread news and to inform about upcoming demonstrations and protests. With the realtime web, people can organize faster. Really fast – and as some unofficial street parties in France show, in a way that the authorities have problems to adjust. Imagine what this could mean on a bigger scale. If suddenly and without any previous planning a million people would gather on a city’s main square, after reading about it on Twitter 30 minutes before. A really big flash mob. That’s a power of the people even western societies are not used to.

I don’t want to claim that the realtime web already has made the world more democratic, but it at least has the chance to do so. And it definitely creates transparency. In any second, you can use a variety of technologies to receive people’s honest realtime feedback on products, services and events. Last time everyone could witness this was on Saturday’s final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Following the #esc hashtag on Twitter was almost more fun than watching the show.

Even if you cannot be sure that everything you read is true, the social connections between people and the way they earn trust over time by being a reliable and authentic source of information and opinion acts as a filter, ensuring that not every stupid rumour is going viral.

On the other hand, that’s not always enough. There have been so many occasions when people falsely were said to have died. Those kind of stories do not always come from Twitter or other realtime services, but rather from mainstream media and gossip sites. Still, with the realtime web, they are spreading much faster and reaching people who otherwise never would read celebrity sites or questionable tabloids.

I think it is necessary to highlight that there is a risk involved in the realtime web. A risk that the combination of global connections and weak filters can lead to misinformation’s on a large scale, which could spark unrest or even panic. Especially in a situation where a really bad news is hitting the web, not all people necessarily think about fact-checking or going to another, renowned newspaper site to get a confirmation before sharing the news. So I don’t think it is too far fetch to expect some major case of global misinformation caused by the realtime web. But that’s maybe what needs to happen to make people realize what power the realtime web gave them as a crowd. And fortunately and despite the uncertainty regarding the future of journalism, there will always be professional journalists who can correct false reports or complete incomplete information spreading on the realtime web. That’s one of the main tasks future journalists will have to work with.

Even though there are some question marks about if the realtime web in fact could cause trouble to people, in my eyes the advantages and opportunities are prevailing. More democracy and more transparency could at least in theory lead to a better and more honest world. It’s up to us to make it become real in practice, too.

/Martin Weigert

(Illustration: stock.xchng)

Twingly Live at “Uppdrag granskning” on Swedish Television tonight

Swedish media continues to go realtime. Tonight Swedish public service-broadcaster SVT will use Twingly Live for their show “Uppdrag Granskning”. Twingly Live connects the show to the discussion about it on the real-time web. And for the first time, the Live feed will be fully displayed at the SVT website and in connection to the live broadcasting of the show on the web.

“Step by step we are upgrading SVT.se to a 2.0-platform where we can get feedback, comments and answer questions from viewers during live broadcasts. Twitter is an excellent tool for that kind of realtime conversations”, says Axel Humlesjö, Swedish Television. You can follow him on Twitter as @axelhumlesjo.

Tonight’s show investigates how illegally caught African fish is being extracted to omega 3 oil intended for the European market. Sounds like something for you to tweet about? Use the hashtag #granskning or #uppdraggranskning to get into the Twingly Live feed.

Find the live broadcast and Twingly Live linked from Uppdrag Granskning tonight at 20.00.

Twingly Live Breakthrough


Image credit: Anders Ljungberg

Today, when the Olympics starts in Vancouver, several Swedish media companies are for the first time connecting their news coverage of the event with live updates from Twingly Live.

Twingly Live is a realtime stream of tweets for a specific topic or event and we’re happy that Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Svenska DagbladetSVT and Expressen will all use our service to let this be part of their news coverage from the Olympics. Martin nails it in the press release why this is so cool:

“People are multitasking in front of their TV sets. They follow TV-broadcasts and read news sites on the Internet while at the same time they’re tweeting and commenting through social media,” says Martin Källström, CEO of Twingly. “It’s a fantastic development that increases peoples interest in news reports. With Twingly Live media take advantage of this online engagement.

What we’ve seen is that Twingly Live is very optimized for realtime broadcasts. Again, Martin explain why our realtime approach is so important for these types of media coverage and why a minor delay makes it all a lot less interesting:

“It is important that the on-going discussion in social media really is transferred in realtime when broadcasted live,” says Martin Källström. “You might think that a small delay is not all that annoying, but the dialogue is interrupted even if just delayed by a few seconds. Therefore, real time technology is a prerequisite for being able to link the discussion in social media with the direct reports from the traditional media.”

We’ll update you with the url:s to their sites as soon as they’re live. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to get noticed.

Twingly Live at Stora Bloggpriset

Tonight one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, Aftonbladet, is rewarding the most popular Swedish blogs at the award show Stora Bloggpriset. We’re of course attending this exciting event, but we are also providing a Twingly Live-channel that you can follow at Aftonbladet.se. So if you are tweeting about the awards, just use the hashtag #bloggpriset and your tweet will show directly at Aftonbladet.se. Dont hesitate to get in touch if you want to use Twingly Live for your event, either on screens at the venue or on your website.