Top of Mind

What we're thinking about right now.

A couple of weeks ago, June 11th, we attended the ReadWriteWeb Realtime Web Summit in New York, the East Coast follow up to last September’s event in Mountain View.  It was a great day.  The Summit brought together many of the core people who are helping to define and deliver the “realtime web.”

The ‘unconference’ format which was both fun and perfectly suited to the participants.  If you’re not familiar with ‘unconferences’, have a look here.  In essence the participants set the agenda, calling sessions on topics that they are interested in.  It breaks down the formality of a typical conference because everyone is part of the discussion.  When you have a room full of a rich mix – both thought leaders and hands-on professionals – the end result is an incredibly varied, inspiring, thought-provoking and productive day.

We were delighted to see that, from the outset, RWW put an emphasis on a broader definition of ‘Realtime’ with an attempt to push people’s thinking beyond Twitter and the Twitterverse.  This is something The Realtime Project has been adamantly championing since day one with a broader focus on the array of emerging technologies that are rapidly becoming mainstream thanks to the ubiquity of broadband, and the acceleration of smartphone penetration.

The first, and perhaps favourite, session we attended was ‘The Internet of Things’.  A fascinating discussion about what happens when we move to a state of ubiquitous connectivity for not only people, but the objects around us.  How do we manage the explosion in data resulting from all physical objects having a digital representation?  What is possible when everything has multiple sensors?  How do we distribute the connections between objects?  The participants were diverse and so were the talking points.  This phenomenon is in its infancy and there are a lot many problems to resolve and much to explore.  We are starting to focus our research and perspectives on this area as well as build relationships with technologists at the cutting edge of this space – stay tuned for more.

Next up was a conversation around realtime location-based services.  A smaller crowd that the other sessions, but dynamic and engaging nonetheless.  Location and mobile services is a key focus area of The Realtime Project and it was interesting to hear from startups developing products and services to integrate with Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.  We see an important future for these services that use location as an enabler to contextualise content and information for people.  In the vast majority of cases, location awareness should be seamless to the end user providing an invaluable anchor to connect the physical and digital layers of spaces.

After lunch there was a ‘speedgeeking’ hour where we were checked out a range of product demos.  Two that stood out and that we’ll be tracking going forward were for us were Collecta, echoecho and GetGlue

Given that the World Cup in South Africa kicked off in the middle of the Summit day, we thought it appropriate to host a session on Realtime World Cup.  It was both fun and engrossing, particularly to get a US-centric view of football (and other sports) and how the realtime web is enabling fans in the US to feel highly engaged and connected to events in South Africa and around the world.  See our recent post HERE for more on the Realtime World Cup.

Finally, the last session of the day focussed on ‘Realtime Where – Location, Privacy and Permissions’.  Chaired by Nick Bicanic of echoecho, the roundtable touched on many of the core issues arising from the collision of realtime services and location-aware devices.   For us, this roundtable discussion epitomised the day.  There are often more questions than answers as we wrestled with both the implications and opportunities of living in the age of Realtime – all tremendously exciting.

The discussion was streamed live on and is available for viewing HERE. Comment below or drop us a line to let us know your views.

All in all it was a great day, and we were excited to make contact with such a broad array of realtimers in New York where we are currently establishing a beachhead and beginning to build and activate The Realtime Project Network.

A huge thanks to the RWW crew for conceiving and organising the Summit.

In other event news, The Realtime Project participated as a panelist on this month’s Convergence Conversations series — The Internet of Things and Augmented Reality.  Stay tuned for more event news.

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