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The Real Time Web Show at Tulane

modified from cc licensed flickr image by mag3737

I was pleased to be invited to give a keynote on Friday at Tulane University’s Tech Day… they run a great free event open not only to the Tulane community but they offer it to other local institutions:

Tech Day is an opportunity for the Tulane community to come together and celebrate the technology that makes life on our campus what it is. It is a day of toys, tech, food and fun. We will have academic and technical presentations as well as games and door prizes. Come show your licks at Guitar Hero or your moves in Dance Dance Revolution. Or come learn about the new trends in technology and education with presentations from our faculty and the vendors that provide us with the technology you use every day. Tech Day is free and open to the public.

A few months ago I was asked if I was interested (are you kidding? It’s in New Orleans, my bags are packed!) in speaking about social media. I was prepared to dust off and update one of my previous dog and web shows, but a few weeks back I felt like a different urge to focus on, fro among the stuff I track for the NMC Horizon Project, the up and coming buzz word seemed to be the “real time web”.

Even more vague in meaning than “Web 2.0”, I saw some wiggle room to try and make a case for some ways in which the web we know and love (maybe) right now is transforming into the next web that will be.


So you can catch my newest CoolIris preso at — where you will also find all the links I used and more — it was not live streamed but it was video recorder, and as soon as the crack Tulane video time puts it through the “Remove the ‘Um’ Filter and Make Him Sound Knowledgeable plug-in” I will share. I did aim to use some reach to the audience beyond who is present with some twitter shout outs, calls to respond to instant surveys, etc. I do see a lot of power in demonstrating the Audience2.0 effect.

The remote audience also missed the point towards the end where I realized I had neglected to plug in my power supply, and has my 16% battery went quickly down (luckily my friends here hustled as I tried to talk my way through the black screen of powerlessness).

But here I do a little Post Presentation Recap (where is John Madden when I need him?)

I do like to have some media running as the audience enters; this time I set up a playlist in iTunes to run through a few top videos looking at social media, including the fab new Did You Know 4 and Social Media Revolution. Mike Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today is a reliable “classic”, and I tossed in my own Rock the Academy video (hey, it is my show).

As an opening, I used something I heard in a recent presentation by Kevin Kelly, where he remarked on how much has changed in the 6000+ days since Tim Berners Lee announced the WWW (you can find this original newsgroup posting). I used the World Time Clock Date Duration Calculator to come up with 6625 days for the day I gave my presentation.

I tried to frame this against things that have radically changed, revolutionized, overturned in this time span by the web – myself (deploying my youthful mullet head from 1992), TV; telephony, publishing, music, etc and leave the hanging question- where is the parallel change in education?

I don’t carry a pat answer, but does Google know what the Real Time Web is? I felt like this YouTube video explained it rather clearly how it works

Not one for focusing on definitions, my aim was to provide examples, but I see some range in what this means, and dont see a lot in having a boxed in specification for it. It does not mean everything in “real time” more more near real time than we typicalyl feel. There is the real-time ness of immediacy, when we back and forth in social media conversation, the real-timeness of dynamically updating data with little or no effort, the real-timeness of the web shifting from notions of “pages” to much smaller bits of data that can be recast, reformed, visualized, passed on….

I wanted to show some things I played with recently, updating web sites with real time updated data or charts generated by Google Spreadsheets ( I had set up a three column sheet, initially with 0 values (and show the chart) and asked an audience volunteer (thanks Simon!) to estimate the percentages of people responding.. I asked how many had twitter accounts, how many had facebook accounts, and how many had web enabled smart phones.

I first used some examples of things I’d looked at before as giving a sense of the web being created and expanding all the time, things that allow you to actually see it happen, including

I then showed how not only the Google Spreadsheet chart changed, but also how I could use the URL that it generates elsewhere- when the data changes, so does the graphic. The point is to contrast how I have done this before- create an Excel Spreadsheet, manually update the data, then make a new graphic of the updated chart, resize and upload to my web site– thats a lot of manual effort. With doing this in Google, I can update my web sites simply by updating my data (and if you can find the ways to dynamically update the spreadsheet data, you are in graduate level Tony Hirst territory). Also very relevant is the KillerAttitude’s Facebook data presenter a la GapMinder via Google tools.

As an extension of this, I next did a demo of creating a simple web survey in Google (wow, it feels like the Google show so far, stand by…) and had the audience help create the third question on this survey I also sent the link out on twitter for those folks to take the same survey, and shifted to looking at the spreadsheet as the data ( came filing in (I wish I had screen capture on this, still something that makes my inner geek smile madly).

In the end I had 85 responses, wow! The results are in (and the sarcastic clowns like me show up in open ended responses)




That actually worked better than I could hope for.

I went on to dive a little into twitter, I did not show the Twitter Life Cycle, but more less talked about the common first outside looking in twitter experience being “That’s the stupidest thing I heard of; who wants to know what I are for lunch?”

I went on to do a bit with twitter search, especially some of the options available on the advanced search, showing the tweets from people near New Orleans with a “positive attitude” – which twitter arguably defines as using a smilie 😉

I tried to suggest how using twitter follows the Shirky logic of not whining about too much information, but avoiding filter failure– and giving credit to Alec Couros’ post on managing a lot of followers.

There are tons of things to show in twitter for real-timeness- I talked about bots like but did show twistori that pulls in a stream of tweets containing feeling words like “love” “hate” “like” “believe” etc.

This was a nattural lead-in to this great quote I had found on Clive Thompson’s current Wired column on How the Real-Time Web Is Leaving Google Behind (not the first nor last time his articles have been that timely for me):


which too may says search will not be a one size fits all approach.

And continuing rapid pace firehosing, I did a quick fly by on twtpoll with a single item question on New Orleans– retweeting it out from twtpoll worked well; and it is a very simple tool for building polls/surveys and sending it out via multiple methods. I just described twitcam as kind of like doing ustream w/o even needing an account besides one in twitter.

Showing as a real time example worked well; I asked the audience for a song to search for, and we landed on Sam Cooke’s It’s a Wonderful World (which again went out automatically to twitter) and I talked through my own experience of seeing a blipped song go out to twitter, picked up by the twtbokdj and play on the jukebox. I would have preferred to show the stream where you can sample in real time the songs people are playing.

Time was running down as I talked through and then real time search engines OneRiot and Wowd which take different paths to real-time-dom.

And I closed with a little snippet of video from Google Wave preview, and my earnest play to be among the 100.000 wave riders let on the water September 30. It should be a game changer which does not always mean it will.

Wow, I did manage to cover most of what I wanted to in about an hour. Thanks Tulane for inviting me and thanks to all the great folks I met there.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. First @shareski steals all of your stuff, now I’m going to continue my stealing. I wonder if those Canadians come up with any of their own ideas?

    Great stuff Alan. You’ve given me some great ideas for my presentations in November!

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