Drinking from the firehose

Some firehoses to drink read from, other than twitter’s:

  1. Google Buzz, through their activity firehose API methods;
  2. FriendFeed, using their real-time updates methods.

While the first works via pubsubhubhub, the second uses a combination of long polling and a cursor that helps you make subsequent calls.

RSSCloud, a PubSubHubbub alternative?

Great news for all RSS advocates: Dave Winer somehow convinced Matt Mullenweg to automatically support RSSCloud on all WordPress.com blogs.

Quoting ReadWriteWeb, who apparently broke the news:

All blogs on the WordPress.com platform and any WordPress.org blogs that opt-in will now make instant updates available to any RSS readers subscribed to a new feature called RSSCloud. There is currently only one RSS aggregator that supports RSSCloud, Dave Winer’s brand-new reader River2. That will probably change very soon.

If you have a WordPress.org blog, you can easily install the recently launched RSSCloud plugin, by Joseph Scott, an employee of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

Now, how will RSSCloud compare to PubSubHubbub? As Chris Messina points out on a comment to Dave Winer’s announcement, “it’d be nice to either protocol gain adoption and enable a better P2P push-based infrastructure to rise up.”

Let’s see how both technologies evolve. So far RSSCloud is only being used by a single feed reader but has gained a massive number of publishers through the WordPress.com adoption.

PubSubHubbub is ahead in the game, currently being used by Feedburner, Blogger, Google Reader, Google Latitude, YouTube, PicasaWeb, FriendFeed, LiveJournal and Superfeedr, to name just a few. There’s also a WordPress.org plugin, written by Josh Fraser.

The real time Web?

Much has been said about friendfeed‘s latest UI redesign and how it enables a real time view of content from across the Web. Is it really real time? I mean, content is pulled periodically from other applications into friendfeed so that it can be displayed to the end user.

This post was triggered in part by a tweet from Ian Mikutel:

Read your preso on Activity Streams & Context. Does new FriendFeed with Real Time everywhere ruin your “middleman” argument now?

Ian is talking about slide 12 from my presentation “Activity Streams and Contexts” prepared for Google’s first MiniBarcamp on 4/2/09 — note that this was actually before friendfeed launched the redesign — in Lisbon, Portugal (original here):

I claim that a data propagation architecture based on a middleman (friendfeed, for instance) pulling information from different Web applications is better in terms of scaling than letting everyone pull data from each other without any type of agreement. I also say that it can’t be real time, because it needs to obtain data periodically from different end points, thus wasting time on that process.

So, where is the real time Web? Is this approach that friendfeed’s presenting us the best we can do? I think we can do much better.