Real-Time State of Mind

I need to get back to blogging more often. Having to type more than 140 characters feels wierd. 😉

Given that I’ll be attending TechCrunch’s Real-Time Stream CrunchUp this Friday, I thought a blog post on a key real-time stream problem would help me into a real-time state of mind.

Real-time streams have many technical problems to overcome many of which are thankfully being resolved by advances in technology and infrastructure but the problem that interests me the most is the user experience problems:

Information, real-time or otherwise, is meaningless if users are drowned within it.

Typical Twitter users see only a fraction of tweets from people they follow. The notion of Top Friends (related to my social radar diagram from 8 years ago) will help but at the cost of additional chores users have to do separate the greens from weeds.

The financial industry has used real-time streams for a long time so there is a lot to learn there technically. But, when it comes to user experience, they haven’t cracked the nut either, forcing traders to use bewildering number of charts and numbers on multiple displays and input devices to trade. So the emerging consumer real-time stream developers will have to break new grounds ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Real-Time State of Mind

  1. Well, people can absorb both far more and far less information than they think. Following about 350 people is a nice sweet spot for me while I’m online.

    Financial data streaming is an interesting case of “if you dump the data at them, they will figure out what to do with it.” (Ok, it’s not “if you build it, they will come” but close.)

    The data overload can be mitigated pretty well with an effective software layer. TweetDeck’s columns, ThinkOrSwim’s analytics, etc. But “the naked stream” I think needs to be classified as a tool rather than an end product for users.

    Hmm… still a half baked thought on my part.

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