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 mind....
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?