In May, I wrote about the emergence of the real-time Web — an evolving online ecosystem without latency, supporting discovery, and pushing information to us in addition to archiving information for us. Google Wave also made its debut that month, an initiative aimed squarely at making applications like email into real-time applications, with chat, immediate file-sharing, and the like.
In the real-time Web, you don’t have to wait for things to update — the updates find you.
Not too surprisingly, the best online publishing platform — the blog — has taken a major step toward realizing a real-time dimension. In this case, it’s WordPress, the platform the Scholarly Kitchen uses.
Now, instead of software polling content sources for updates or email alerts being sent out through a separate procedure, both of which create latency of many minutes or hours, updates can be issued from the content source in real-time via the cloud.
Google has already dabbled in this with their pubsubhubbub protocol (publish /subscribe, like modulation/demodulation for us old school types), but it wasn’t deeply embedded in a content creation tool and has only been implemented in Google Reader in a limited way.
Dave Winer has created the first RSS reader capable of taking advantage of this new cloud updating feature, but others were quick to follow. After all, WordPress made the change to millions of blogs simultaneously. That raises the stakes significantly — players like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, People magazine, and CNN use WordPress blogs.
So what does this mean? As ReadWriteWeb puts it:
Real time updates could enable several things. Faster distribution of blog posts, more compelling conversations in real-time and a renewed timeliness for blogging vs. services like Twitter are all likely consequences. The list of possible technical developments on top of RSSCloud could be as open-ended as the developments enabled by the core of RSS.
RSS has made blogging viable by freeing readers of the requirement of visiting each site they are interested in. It has made podcasts subscribable. It has made wiki change notifications trackable outside the mess of the email inbox. It has made search a persistent action, instead of a one-off occasional delayed reaction. RSS is mixable, mashable, parsable, filterabile.
Now RSSCloud could add a real-time dimension to all of that. The paradigm just got a very big vote of support.
For scholarly publishers, this big step forward in publishing technologies, as part of the move to the real-time web, means that our latency will stand out even more in the modern communications environment. Monthly issues? Quarterly updates? These will seem even more prosaic and dusty when users are immersed in real-time updates.
Yes, peer-review and editing take time, but it’s clear that publishing no longer should.