Facebook: We're Doing It Live, Sort Of

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Back when Facebook first announced its new homepage redesign, it billed it as ‘real-time’, offering users their friends’ most recent activity updates as they happened. Unfortunately, the homepage wasn’t quite as real-time as many of us would have liked – while it did show the most recent updates, the page was static, and you’d have to refresh it if you wanted to see any subsequent updates.

Today Facebook is coming one step closer to live updating, with a new status message that appears towards the top of the page whenever there are new updates that you haven’t read yet. The feature will roll out to all users over the next few hours. It’s very similar to the approach being taken by Twitter search, which periodically displays how many new results have appeared since you submitted your query.

It’s an improvement, but it isn’t quite the live stream that I think many of us are envisioning. For example, the new FriendFeed (which I think is a huge step up from the old version) features a true live stream, with updates flowing down the page as they happen. It’s a bit strange at first, but it’s also far more engaging than a static page – I often find myself staring at the stream, simply so I can watch the next item to pop up (yes, I am easily amused). Of course, I’m sure Facebook is keeping a close eye on how FriendFeed’s redesign is receieved, as it hasn’t shied away from using the site for R&D before.

The snazzy image above is from Busted Tees, where you can order it on a T-shirt.

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