On the web, real-time is used to describe content that is made available on a website at the same time as the events depicted occur or the content is created.
There are a number of website and web applications that offer real-time delivery of content and media. News organizations that push news stories live to the web as soon as they are complete, social media sites that allow users to share real-time updates with their followers, and webcams that provide real-time video streaming are examples of ways that real-time content is made available on the web.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of things happen real-time on the web?
There are several types of content frequently delivered in real-time on the web. Some of the most common examples include:
- User-generated content: Many website, most notably social media sites, are driven by user-generated content which may include, pictures, videos, audio, and text. These updates are published to the website in real-time.
- News organizations: Many news sites have a feed which automatically displays the most recent stories, and is updated in real-time.
- Live video: Video broadcasted to the web in real-time is available from personal broadcasting applications like Periscope and YouNow, websites that host webcam feeds, and live broadcast events, such as sporting events and breaking news stories published by major networks.
- Collaborative editing: There are a number of services available over the web for real-time collaborative editing of documents. As one user edits the document, the edits are visible in real-time to the other users.
- Multiplayer games: Web-enable multiplayer games are hosted by a central game server where all of the actions taken by every player are displayed in real-time to all of the other players.
- Video conferencing and screen sharing: Real-time video conferencing is made possible by the Internet, and is used heavily for both personal and professional communications. Many video conferencing applications also provide a way for a user to share their screen with the other call participants. Doing so provides all of the participants with a real-time view of the screen that has been shared.
What are the risks presented by the real-time web?
Sharing content in real-time presents risks and challenges that web users need to be aware of and prepared to deal with as they interact with real-time platforms.
First, when content is shared in real-time, such as on a social network, there is no delay for censorship or moderation prior posting00. Therefore, even if you are visiting a website or social network that has policies in place to restrict potentially offensive material, offending content will be posted in real-time and will be visible until it is reported and the website administrators have the time to review and remove the offending content. In addition, when content is shared in real-time, it is easy to post content you later regret posting. Posting something you later regret is a move you may not be able to take back if it has already been seen and reposted by other users. There have been many cases of people facing significant personal and professional consequences over real-time posts they would have been better off keeping to themselves.
Second, when data is posted in real-time, it is possible to inadvertently publish or broadcast information that should have remained private. For example, some multiplayer games include real-time video feeds which are used to allow players to talk to each other as they play the game. However, there have been instances where users forgot to turn off the video feed after ending the game, and ended up broadcasting parts of their life they would have preferred remain private.
Third, as real-time video broadcasting has grown in popularity, so has the amount of harassment and bullying aimed at real-time broadcasters. This is particularly true for women who use services like YouNow and Periscope which allow other users to make unmoderated comments in real-time, and also true for men to a lesser degree. Users of these platforms are sometimes subjected to shockingly pointed sexual or offensive comments and requests.