As the web continues to become more open and collaborative, we inch our way towards Web 3.0. One component of the next-era web, has become more prevalent across the Internet over the past year: the so-called media-stream. The popularity of micro-blogging sites like Twitter and the integration of status updates on social networks like Facebook and MySpace, have created a constant stream of content throughout the web. The stream is the Internet in real-time, made up of active conversations, thoughts, and information shared by individuals throughout the social web. The stream has spawned an entirely new way to publish content on the web and many people have taken advantage of this trend.
Thanks to use of open API’s, web developers have creatively integrated streams on their own websites for various purposes. What once was limited to widgets and feed readers, can now be directly integrated into a websites design. Some good examples of this integration can be seen below such as Crispin, Porter + Bogusky’s innovative social web “fishing net”, Tweetmygamings.com’s tracking of real-time game conversations, Guitar Hero Smash Hit’s Facebook stream, and HP’s use of Twitter during a product revealing.
The adoption of the stream has many implications for marketers, advertisers and even the consumer. Sites like Tweetmygaming.com have created an entirely new way to analyze online conversational trends and have made it important for game developers to find their title as the top trending game. Easy-to-use API’s have allowed for the wide spread adoption of the micro-blogging sites like Twitter and have become commonplace on sites like Facebook, making it almost a necessity of any social network. The dispersion and reach of content via the stream may increase the speed, use, and effectiveness of viral marketing techniques. Even advertisers may find use in the stream by identifying URL’s trending up in the stream and evaluating impressions and media buys through real-time data. As web marketers salivate of the endless opportunities, we must also consider the implications of the stream on us as consumers. As Nova Spivack stated in his excellent blog posting on the stream:
"Human attention is a tremendous bottleneck in the world of the Stream. We can only attend to one thing, or at most a few things, at once. As information comes at us from various sources, we have to jump from one item to the next. We cannot absorb it all at once. This fundamental barrier may be overcome with technology in the future, but for the next decade at least it will still be a key obstacle.”
How as consumers will we adopt the stream? Will real-time streams become as abundant as blogs? Do consumers even pay attention to the stream? How do we make sense of such fleeting information?