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Sunday
May102009

The Age of Stream

Nova Spivak (the father of Twine) has an excellent post on how the Web, or rather it's use by the consumers of the Web, has morphed. I've had many of the the same thoughts about the way in which Web usage (and the value of the web) has changed to be more than a hyperlinked collection of information nodes that the end user 'navigates' in a form of active, directed exploration. The earliest Web explorers set out to traverse the linkages, which remained fairly static. Now, with the rate of new linkages, new sources and the rapid revision of existing structures, the Web is so immense and so plastic that our efforts are focused on the nature of the new, the rates of change and managing both the volume and complexity.


From the very early days of the Web, we've seen attempts to create the means by which information "comes to you." I think of the excitement I felt when using some of the earliest publish-subscribe services that delivered content by email, the streaming "tickers", and eventually the RSS feed and the feed reader. The Stream, however, is a different beast. Consider Twitter and other micro-blog offerings that seem most popularly associated with "social media." In some sense, the microblog is the analog of the "dumb network", where the application of filters and searches and selective attention is made NOT at the source (the publisher) and NOT only at the sink, but in combination (i.e., a easily modified subscription to multiple sources, plus the late-binding application of filters by the recipient and consumer).


Nova poses a few excellent questions in this post, and it's kicked off a number of worthwhile, Sunday-morning reflections and ideas. Welcome to the Age of Stream.


Is the Stream What Comes After the Web



... One of the most difficult challenges will be how to know what to pay attention to in the Stream: Information and conversation flow by so quickly that we can barely keep up with the present, let alone the past. How will know what to focus on, what we just have to read, and what to ignore or perhaps read later?

Recently many sites have emerged that attempt to show what is trending up in real-time, for example by measuring how many retweets various URLs are getting in Twitter. But these services only show the huge and most popular trends. What about all the important stuff that's not trending up massively? Will people even notice things that are not widely RT'd or "liked"? Does popularity equal importance of content? ...

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