US President and UK Snow Fall Show the Power of the 'Real Time' Internet

11 February 2009

LONDON: The inauguration of US president Barack Obama and a bout of heavy snow in the UK are two recent events that are at once both highly divergent and indicative of an increasingly important online trend: that the internet is becoming more "real time".

Dan Calladine of digital marketing services network Isobar, argues "real time" online communications go beyond the reach of search engines and could change how key events are reported in the future.

In the case of Obama's inauguration, Facebook, the social networking website, joined forces with current affairs broadcast network CNN to offer a service for web users to view the inauguration on the internet and post their comments.

Among the results reported by Facebook were that 600,000 "status updates" were posted on the Live Facebook feed during the ceremony, with 4,000 updates being made during every minute of the broadcast.

This figure increased to 8,500 during Obama's maiden presidential speech, and is another example of how the new president has encouraged a broad range of viral behaviour.

Twitter, a "micro-blogging" website limiting entries to 140 characters per post, has recently experienced dramatic growth in the UK, and during the heavy snowfall earlier this month, one user decided to use the website to track the adverse weather conditions.

Using the tags attached to individual posts, Ben Marsh asked other Twitter users to provide the start of their postcode and estimate the amount of snow in their area, and produced a “live map” of the snowfall using the results.

WARC Online subscribers can read more about "real time" communications on the web by clicking here.

Data sourced from WARC Online