Thursday, November 19, 2009

Risky Real-Time

The real-time web refers a broad set of Internet-based services that enable instant digital communication. Some elements of the real time web have existed for a while now - e.g. real-time one-to-one and few-to-few forms of communication such as Instant Messaging and Chat. But over the past couple of years the Internet has experienced the quick proliferation of one-to-many real-time communication - i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Along with digital communication, digital goods have also enabled real-time transactions. iTunes is the prime example of a real-time commerce application where a quick transaction brings upon instant gratification. Anyone can purchase a song, movie, or software within seconds.

The real-time web has significantly improved the Internet - it has fostered many new forms of communication and transaction. But the real-time web also introduces new risks that the old, more static web didn't suffer. Since data can spread instantly, misinformation can reach many people before it is proven to be false. Rumors are thus experiencing a Renaissance within this new reality. In the financial realm, the real-time web gives bad guys the ability to quickly perform hit-and-run scams. Money laundering and other transnational schemes can flourish before anyone realizes what's going on.

So what we have is typical to most human innovation and evolution - the new technology that is quickly misused. But this time things may be different. The real-time web is quickly becoming the foundation of the new Internet. It is here to stay and so are those who attempt to misuse it. We must realize that real-time is both a gift and a huge challenge. The real-time web is the battlefield of the future.
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