UPDATED 15:36 EDT / AUGUST 07 2009

The Real Time Web’s Usership is Difficult to Nail Down

imageWe’ve been pretty closely watching and thinking about what’s being called the “real time web” by some (and the “2010 Web” by fellow ANGLEr Robert Scoble). It’s an impressive paradigm shift on how attention has re-focused on the Web, and Rob Hof over at Business Week has a great story on that part of our wheelhouse today.

John Borthwick speaks softly, but he can’t hide his excitement. Co-founder and chief executive of the New York Internet media incubator betaworks, Borthwick is an investor in the microblogging phenomenon Twitter, where people exchange short public messages called tweets. Betaworks is also building or investing in at least 21 other companies mining the "real-time Web." That’s the term coined to describe the exploding number of live social activities online, from tweets to status updates on Facebook to the sharing of news, Web links, and videos on myriad other sites. "It’s a whole new layer of innovation that’s opening up on the Web," he says.

image Throughout the piece, Rob Hof talks about the nebulous nature of the real-time web, and how difficult it is to track just how many companies are jumping into these waters.  Certainly, with Google’s Wave, Yahoo’s new plan for Delicious, and our own SALabs project getting absorbed into Bing, RTW is clearly becoming an important aspect of almost every major organization’s generalized web strategy.

Our own John Furrier talked a bit about our involvement with the space not just as pontificators but as innovators earlier this morning over on /SAbackchan.

Our little open entrepreneurial incubator SiliconANGLE Labs (SA Labs) had a big Twitter search project that me (and my friend) and fellow SA Labs partner Ho John Lee built out.

That pre-funded Twitter search project was a smashing success. It worked out for Ho John because Microsoft picked up the project and Ho John as an employee last month. I spent a ton of time with Ho John in building a Twitter search model and index.

That being said we had an entire crawl of the Twitter user base sans-spam that was stored on our servers in Palo Alto that index is now at Microsoft part of Bing. What we learned is that the number of actual users on Twitter (with handles is – 14-15m) and in January of 2009 it had only about 2m users.

The publicly available metrics don’t go far enough towards showing the true activity on Twitter, and much of what happens there and on other real time networks are becoming the background fabric of the rest of the Web.

“The numbers around twitter are interesting: close to 3-4x of the unique users don’t even have a twitter address,” John said today. “They are hitting the site directly or through some mashup or application.”


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