David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Charting the Real-Time Web

Now social media has the equivalent of the Times Square “deficit clock.”

  • January 8, 2010

Today the Web is bursting with social media content and a burgeoning supply of (and demand for) “real-time” information. This information is created as people open new Facebook and other social media accounts, churn out Tweets and other microblogs, post photos and videos, and tirelessly text one another. But getting a grip on exactly how much is happening–and what the primary sources are–is a slippery task, especially since web companies often jealously guard their metrics.

The new social media counter. Credit: Gary Hayes.

Now there’s a social-media “clock” of sorts, which you can check out here. It charts the second-by-second accumulation of social-media accounts, blogs, Tweets, photo uploadings, status updates, and the like. Consider it the social-media equivalent of that national-deficit “clock” in Times Square.

The effort does require a reality check. It’s not actually an accurate rendering of the real-time Web. Rather, it’s a counter, created by an Australia-based virtual-world entepreneur named Gary Hayes. Hayes set the various rates of increase according to various estimates culled from disparate sources such as analysts, company blogs, and news media accounts. Some of the estimates are several months old and may not actually be accurate or complete.

But, while it may not provide any new primary information, or be accurate in all categories, Hayes’ social-media clock is nevertheless an excellent visualization of where much of the Web’s growth is coming from these days.

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