Is this just another hype or a transformation of the Web? Much has recently been written about the real-time Web. Instead of pages, feeds, and wikis, we may be looking at a live and living information stream that constantly evolves combining features from all of those technologies. Information in this world is not authored by an entity but by communities. It is a mix of various feeds of text and objects updated in real-time.
Twitter, which heralded the coming of the Stream, may have triggered a revolution in information sharing. Recently we saw Facebook jump on the bandwaggon and now Google’s Wave promises the next phase of development. It is even hyped to replace e-mail and instant messaging all-together.
If it takes off, personal information management will have to change. We have seen over the past years that it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the world-wide output. It’s become impossible to read things from A to Z. The future will be dipping in and out of the stream bearly getting your feet wet in the process.
Does this fragment the knowledge sharing and the knowledge economy? Perhaps not, but it will force people to engage more with each other and trust each others’ interpretation. Knowledge in this environment is difficult to reference. Quoting a news item that may vanish downstream or simply evaporate is different to sending people a static link where you can read it yourself. We yet have to see what data persistence emerges and how retrievable it will be.
The stream also means that everyone gets different pieces of the puzzle. To get a wider understanding you need to exchange and collaborate. This may be seen pedagogically as a good thing, but remember that not everyone is “connected” and most web-users still rely on brochure-ware sites.