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The Real-Time Web is Dying (if it was ever alive)


When I started working on Stinky Teddy in 2009, there was much activity in the real-time web search space. Real-time search, in a nutshell, aims to surface digital content that humans are posting as soon as it is posted. Twitter Search is the leader in the field, but they only index results from Twitter updates. A few brave startups tried to index wider swaths of the real-time web, including rss feeds, blogs posts, blog comments, and other social netwoks (identi.ca, for instance). Notable amongst these startups were Scoopler, OneRiot, and Collecta. Stinky Teddy is a metasearch engine that uses real-time conversations to figure out what content (new or old, text, image or video) might be important to a web searcher at the moment of their search. The real-time search engines do the hard work for me by indexing these conversations and presenting the data to me contextual analysis.

Sadly, today is the final day for the Collecta API, so I'm entirely dependent on Twitter (for now) to figure out the pulse of the web. Oneriot shut down in October, and the Scoopler team has moved onto celebrity spotting. The problem, of course, is that nobody has found a sustainable business model around indexing and searching the public portions of the real-time web. There is a market for this sort of data. Gnip is now in the business of collecting and selling real-time information, including some of the stuff sitting behind the dreaded nofollow wall (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). I'm still hoping that at some point Bing adds their social feed to their public APIs.

Recently, Wired had the provocative article The Web is Dead that explained how the open web was giving way to walled gardens and apps. Unfortunately, the real-time web, in the sense of a "web" that is both open and searchable, never made it out of its infancy.

 
 
 
 
 

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