Making RSS and the web real-time

27. August 2009 – 13:02 by Bengt Feil

Real-time or instant communication is one of the major trends of the internet today: Facebook-Chat offers real-time communication, exchanges of thoughts and information happens almost instantly on Twitter, push email on desktop and mobile devices is quickly developing into a standard and instant messaging via standards like Jabber or software like Skype has become an important tools for private and professional communication. eParticipation can benefit from this development as it opens up a door for a new generation of tools and services. But one major component is still missing on the way to the real-time web.

In a nutshell the instant updating is achieved by setting up a hub-server which acts as an intermediate and keeps track of all updates on RSS-feeds and quickly informs all subscribers. A quick introduction to the technical basis is given in the following presentation:

In summary the very simple implementation of this standard would allow all kinds of websites to exchange various sorts of content instantly. It is like changing setting up phone lines between different islands instant of using ships transporting paper mail. Consequently pubsubhubbub (despite having a rather silly name) could be a major building block of the real-time web.

The next generation of eParticipation tools which make use of the real-time web and its underlining technologies could be more distributed and can engage the participants where ever they are on the web without being totally depended on third party platforms like Facebook etc.. One example could be to integrate discussions on Twitter etc. on a given topic to an eParticipation site and to use instant updating RSS to have both discussions linked to one another.

To get more information about this project or to try out what can be done with it I would suggest taking a look at the project page or this short tutorial of how to implement it.

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