Realtime wars pick up speed

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Thursday night Twitter engineer Alex Payne finally acknowledged the obvious regarding the firehose – the full stream of data sought after by third-party developers to add back the long-withheld Track service. Twitter executives have been all over the map on this, sending developers on a wild goose chase to obtain access to the XMPP stream that the company has failed to provide since May.

Payne’s post describes how Twitter provided the firehose “on an experimental basis some months ago, but had to limit its distribution to just a few subscribers while we worked on technical hurdles.” At BearHug Camp, developers were told to contact Gnip as an intermediary, but now Payne says Twitter has decided to keep the service in-house with a newly-staffed team and yet another undetermined delta between promise and reality.

Friendfeed’s realtime beta service and promised improvements in auto-provisioning of Friend Lists may have done more than all the BearHugging and developer consternation combined to smoke Twitter out. While Twitter tap dances and stonewalls, Friendfeed releases a steady stream of features that, in aggregate, add up to a whole lot more than promises and lipstick back-pedaling. Today, for example, Friendfeed Rooms were transformed into a comment management system:

Room admins can also now choose whether they want comment moderation on their semi-public rooms. This can be particularly useful if you want to embed your room on your own web site. When commenting in a moderated room, a user will see “Pending” before their unapproved comment, and will also have the option of editing or deleting the comment without needing to wait for an admin to approve or reject it. Room admins will see the approval-pending comments at the top of that room and also in the entries themselves.

This leverages the new realtime features as well as the embeddable widget option to receive such a room feed. It also solves one of Friendfeed’s most fundamental problems, namely the siloing of the comment stream. Not only can rooms be used to aggregate comments, the widget lets you spread the comments around in context of blogs, portals, and other social networks. In one fell swoop, Disqus, coComment, and even other aggregation points such as Microsoft Sharepoint become objects looking smaller than real size in the rear view mirror.

Friendfeed becomes a conversation hub that can be threaded through Twitter and other micromessaging platforms at the cost of a tinyurl. What we’re seeing here are the primitives needed to assemble conversational routing at the micromessage level, something that is more valuable to Twitter users than the limited realtime tools available from the Mother Ship. Friendfeed is in a real conversation with its developers, in contrast to the snipe hunt Twitter keeps sending its developers on, only to admit they are really just buying time until they can figure out how to keep the ideas in-house.

Twitter’s bigger problem is that Track is a commodity once Twitter finally releases it. Regardless of its cost to users – which will likely be subsidized by advertising models – the benefits of tracking a notification service for valuable conversations held and managed by users on a competitive network are also commoditized. The longer Twitter waits to get into the game, the more valuable Friendfeed rooms and conversation streams become and the more opportunity for Friendfeed to release its own Track.

Friend List modeling will then become the analog to Twitter Follows, and Rooms a way of aggregating discovery of new friends. Track across both spaces with realtime output and API messaging back out to Twitter will be hard to compete against, especially when Friendfeed is using Twitter as its viral marketing tool. And history is telling us the only thing likely to get Twitter moving is competition. That they now have in spades.

  • http://andybeard.eu Andy Beard

    I still haven’t found a way to follow all dispersed conversations on Friendfeed and somehow clump them together for easy response.

    • http://www.charmainechen.com Web2.0 Chick

      As for me, I don’t bother reading Twitter posts. i prefer reading from the actual blog sites. But Twitter is useful tool for reminding others that you’re “active” within the blogosphere :)

      • http://newblogtopic.blogspot.com/ nake

        Googler(n) is a person who makes it easy to search the Google, Uses the all of google commands and google tools very efficiently, Fan of a google…
        Are you a Googler? If you are…
        Here we go,
        Here we go again,
        same time, same place,
        Now you tell me,
        That she is just a friend!
        Here we go!!

  • http://andybeard.eu Andy Beard

    I still haven’t found a way to follow all dispersed conversations on Friendfeed and somehow clump them together for easy response.

    • http://www.charmainechen.com Web2.0 Chick

      As for me, I don’t bother reading Twitter posts. i prefer reading from the actual blog sites. But Twitter is useful tool for reminding others that you’re “active” within the blogosphere :)

      • http://newblogtopic.blogspot.com/ nake

        Googler(n) is a person who makes it easy to search the Google, Uses the all of google commands and google tools very efficiently, Fan of a google…
        Are you a Googler? If you are…
        Here we go,
        Here we go again,
        same time, same place,
        Now you tell me,
        That she is just a friend!
        Here we go!!

  • http://www.ianbell.com Ian Bell

    It’s a little wierd representing these services as “realtime” communication. Even instant messaging isn’t truly a realtime medium, in the sense that there is no requirement for syncronous communication such as there is with voice calling or videoconferencing. I suspect most people are still publishing and subscribing to Twitter via the web, which further waters down its case as a realtime communications platform.

    That people are falsely ascribing these attributes to Twitter and even Friendfeed are flattering to those founders, I’m sure, but person-to-person chat is not their forte for a number of reasons (including privacy).

  • http://www.ianbell.com Ian Bell

    It’s a little wierd representing these services as “realtime” communication. Even instant messaging isn’t truly a realtime medium, in the sense that there is no requirement for syncronous communication such as there is with voice calling or videoconferencing. I suspect most people are still publishing and subscribing to Twitter via the web, which further waters down its case as a realtime communications platform.

    That people are falsely ascribing these attributes to Twitter and even Friendfeed are flattering to those founders, I’m sure, but person-to-person chat is not their forte for a number of reasons (including privacy).

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    Every important service on the web will have a real time stream very soon. What we need is NetNewsWireRT.

    • http://scripting.com Dave Winer

      What would that look like?

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    Every important service on the web will have a real time stream very soon. What we need is NetNewsWireRT.

    • http://scripting.com Dave Winer

      What would that look like?

  • http://blog.stealthmode.com francine hardaway

    Sucks that gainful employment prevented me from following this today and Brian Roy has real time FF in XMPP already. How did he get it? More specifically, how can I? I care less about rooms, except during the debate and such, than I do about friends.

    Thanks for posting on this. You are the warrior in this fight, dude. And for that I admire you.

  • http://blog.stealthmode.com francine hardaway

    Sucks that gainful employment prevented me from following this today and Brian Roy has real time FF in XMPP already. How did he get it? More specifically, how can I? I care less about rooms, except during the debate and such, than I do about friends.

    Thanks for posting on this. You are the warrior in this fight, dude. And for that I admire you.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    @Ian That’s what IM is for. But here we are talking about the beginnings of public realtime services.

    On a side note, I think realtime can be considered a few seconds or less for services that are not audio or video. Close enough for what needs to happen to create a paradigm shift.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    @Ian That’s what IM is for. But here we are talking about the beginnings of public realtime services.

    On a side note, I think realtime can be considered a few seconds or less for services that are not audio or video. Close enough for what needs to happen to create a paradigm shift.

  • I don't get it

    I still don’t get the craze over twitter. What is all the fuss about anyway?

    • EH

      It’s the world’s most expensive (or famous, take your pick) reinvention of IRC. And…”rooms?” Is Steve Case among the investors?

      • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

        very funny. and I appreciate your point. . .somewhat. . .but

        Even if Twitter were just IRC and there are a couple KEY differences, it’s not always the first with an idea that makes the diff. . .

        Vikings were in North America first but they didn’t have the same impact that Columbus did.

        Why don’t we all just go back to Usenet?

  • I don't get it

    I still don’t get the craze over twitter. What is all the fuss about anyway?

    • EH

      It’s the world’s most expensive (or famous, take your pick) reinvention of IRC. And…”rooms?” Is Steve Case among the investors?

      • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

        very funny. and I appreciate your point. . .somewhat. . .but

        Even if Twitter were just IRC and there are a couple KEY differences, it’s not always the first with an idea that makes the diff. . .

        Vikings were in North America first but they didn’t have the same impact that Columbus did.

        Why don’t we all just go back to Usenet?

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    @I don’t get it — One way to look at it (and there are more) is that the web disintermediates everything. It brings people and information togther without a media source in between. The telephone did that as well, but the web takes that to hyperspace (pun intended).

    Twitter is (was?) one of the first realtime examples of this power of the network.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    @I don’t get it — One way to look at it (and there are more) is that the web disintermediates everything. It brings people and information togther without a media source in between. The telephone did that as well, but the web takes that to hyperspace (pun intended).

    Twitter is (was?) one of the first realtime examples of this power of the network.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    Furthermore, once we have true, pure, disintermediated conversation in realtime we have arrived at the cluetrain.

    • hesitations

      No, it is the Borg.
      Will it be worth listening to?
      NO.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    Furthermore, once we have true, pure, disintermediated conversation in realtime we have arrived at the cluetrain.

    • hesitations

      No, it is the Borg.
      Will it be worth listening to?
      NO.

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    From my first blog post circa 2005:

    I no longer believe in the web. . .

    So what do I believe in? Instant Messaging. Once we add social network and RSS features to IM applications, this will be the only platform we will ever need. At that point, we will emerged from the wormhole we are now traveling in.

    http://everybuddy.org/2005/10/08/my-new-web-world/

  • http://gangbuster.org/blog/ Matt Terenzio

    From my first blog post circa 2005:

    I no longer believe in the web. . .

    So what do I believe in? Instant Messaging. Once we add social network and RSS features to IM applications, this will be the only platform we will ever need. At that point, we will emerged from the wormhole we are now traveling in.

    http://everybuddy.org/2005/10/08/my-new-web-world/

  • meanguy

    Sorry, but I tuned out after reading the words “Twitter executives.”

  • meanguy

    Sorry, but I tuned out after reading the words “Twitter executives.”

  • tekknikk

    This is bullshit. If one can build a pipeline where an artist can manipulate +100 million polygons representing a super complex 3D environment in real time while the client watches and direct changes then this problem can be solved.

    • Steve Gillmor

      I think you’re right. Not the bullshit part, but that this problem can be solved. Looking much more likely in the last few days.

  • tekknikk

    This is bullshit. If one can build a pipeline where an artist can manipulate +100 million polygons representing a super complex 3D environment in real time while the client watches and direct changes then this problem can be solved.

    • Steve Gillmor

      I think you’re right. Not the bullshit part, but that this problem can be solved. Looking much more likely in the last few days.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    I’ve played a bit with Brian Roy’s xmpp workaround. It’s nice,but right now it’s pulling in everything with no filters (he knows that…is working on it). When he gets it to where I can pull in specific lists or rooms, then FF will really be useful.

    I haven’t figured out how to post to twitter/identi.ca from it or if I can. That would be next on my wish list, because then I could turn off all the spies and let FriendFeed do the walking.

    • http://www.cocomment.com yo momma

      your comment sold me! assuming you are right, thank you for the clarification

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    I’ve played a bit with Brian Roy’s xmpp workaround. It’s nice,but right now it’s pulling in everything with no filters (he knows that…is working on it). When he gets it to where I can pull in specific lists or rooms, then FF will really be useful.

    I haven’t figured out how to post to twitter/identi.ca from it or if I can. That would be next on my wish list, because then I could turn off all the spies and let FriendFeed do the walking.

    • http://www.cocomment.com yo momma

      your comment sold me! assuming you are right, thank you for the clarification

  • http://www.pclicious.com/ PCLicious Video Tutorials

    Its a twitterful world after all!

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