Measuring and Managing the Real-Time Web

I recently read two posts — one by @StoweBoyd (The False Question of Attention Economics) — and the other by @JohnBorthwick (Charting the Real-time Web) — that had me thinking (again) about the challenges of information overload and real-time streams in the enterprise.

Here are a couple of quotes from each post that I found interesting…. first from Stowe:

"I suggest we just haven't experimented enough with ways to render information in more usable ways… the only ones that will benefit in the next ten years will be those that expend the time needed to stretch the cognition we have, now, into the configuration needed to extract more from the increasingly real-time web."

Stowe Boyd, The False Question of Attention Economics

and also this one from John:

"As interactions online shift to streams we are going to have to figure out how measurement works. I feel like today we are back to the early days of the web when people talked about “hits” — it’s hard to parse the relevant data from the noise."

John Borthwick, Charting the Real-Time Web

Both posts highlight the need for better tools to measure, manage, filter and render the streams of information being generated as
user interactions shift to the Real-time Web or Live Web.   I agree.  

In some ways, we need to apply to the real-time web a management maxim from the industrial economy attributed to a number of people including Deming, Grove, Drucker and Kaplan:

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it"

There are a number of social monitoring and analytics solutions from companies like Crimson Hexagon, Radian6, Chartbeat and others.  For example, Chartbeat is focused on monitoring, measuring and analyzing real-time interactions across the web.  This video provides an interesting demo of real-time activity on Fred Wilson's AVC blog:

Yet, Chartbeat is a solution focused on monitoring, measuring and analyzing streams of attention from other people to my content / website / service.    It helps me understand certain (not all) flows of attention to me… and to my content.  

If we're to improve management of our attention allocated to the flood of information overload,  we need a "personal" chartbeat-like service focused on monitoring, measuring and analyzing streams of attention coming in to … and going out from … me 

To try and manage the real-time stream of information… of conversations… of how I allocate my attention, I will need better tools:

– First, to measure my individual incoming and outgoing real-time interactions, and 

– Second, to manage the most important and relevant real-time streams created from my two-way interactions with my most important personal/work/commercial relationships.



  1. But what would be the usable output of the analysis of your communications on the personal level? It is obvious what the value of this information is to the companies that own and run the websites you frequent, and of course to the world of Marketing, but what would be the tangible benefit to an individual of the analysis of their real-time communication streams?
    From a busines user standpoint I would want my communication streams to not only be segemented in this analysis, but also benchmarked against both those I admire and follow, as well as those that are in the same proffesional sphere as I am.
    I have long thought that the business user lacks this level of analysis and benchmarking. It should be possible to have customizable computers built on common software/hardware & content streams based on your functional title and industry. Right now we have software/website companies that collect our usage data of their products in order to improve them. What we need is a total user improvement program that analyzes all of the software and hardware the business user utilizes by functional dicipline and industry – real-time. One that analyzes your skillsets around the technology over time and suggests ways in which to improve productivity based off of common industry benchmarks from the same analysis.

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