Real Time Hype

Everything is real time today – news, search resultssurveys, updates, tweets… All is here and now. We’re finally living where we always wanted to be – in the immediate present. We know what the world is up to, we’re keeping tabs on our work schedules as they happen, we know what our friends like and dislike with smileys, buttons, and icons. We’re available 24 x 7 on our mobile phones, tethered to wi-fi networks, checking mail even on flights and holidays and tweeting, messaging, communicating…. As the Oscars unveil, they are photographed, captured on video, uploaded to Facebook, tweeted across the globe, blogged real time and commenteddebated and talked about. In two days, we generate more data than was generated from the time of known civilisation. We’ve all become data daytraders, looking for blips and dashes of emotion and euphoria. We’re tireless chroniclers moving on to the next experience, the next morsel, even before we know and understand what we have just consumed.

Real time is overrated. Instant is the new scourge, allowing for little or no analysis, regurgitating and spreading all that is coming from the screens we are eternally connected to. By the time news is printed and delivered the next day, it is deemed ‘old’. We’re lowering the value of real experiences and exchanging it for something staged and archived in proprietary vaults that are rarely checked and referenced. In a real house, junk collects over decades. Here it multiplies by the minute and is stored unseen on hard drives in the cloud or buried in files on the PC. We share pictures ‘real time’ from our mobile phones and they are forgotten in a few moments. Fads come and go faster than we comprehend.

Maybe it will lead to some fundamental changes in the way we interact. It’s like trying to analyse events when they are happening. At some future point in time, historians will have their hands full. making sense of the thoughts, dreams, and desires of millions of people talking about everything from breakfast and diet angst to freedom from tyranny and savagery. But for the moment, real time sounds like a confused mass of incoherent voices waiting for time to translate it into something of real, tangible value.