Recap of Real-time Stream CrunchUp

The Real-time Stream CrunchUp and August Capital MeetUp have come and gone. For me, the most interesting parts of the day were the product demos and initial morning conversation with Ron Conway and John Borthwick. My notes from the day are on Posterous and Twitter. I’ll provide some additional analysis and thoughts below.

Paradigms and Definitions
Much like Web 2.0, it is clear that people have different ideas, definitions, and ways to communicate what the real-time web is. Ron Conway suggested it be the “now” web, Mike Arrington prefers the “stream” paradigm, and Kevin Marks described it as “flow.”

Just like Web 2.0, there will be many ideas around what’s happening and no one will agree. But I don’t think that the moniker itself has truly been accepted yet. Will it be “real-time,” “stream,” “now,” “web 3.0.” or something else? My guess is that the CrunchUp might have solidified “real-time.” Ultimately, something will catch and the web warlords will finally be at rest — at least about the term.

People love talking about what Twitter’s revenue model(s) will be. But how will monetization work for the larger real-time web?

Ron Conway’s “Top Ten Monetization Opportunities for Real-time” consists of lead generation (including acquiring followers), coupons, analytics, CRM, payments, commerce, user authentication, syndication of new ads, context advertising, and display advertising.

Some of the companies that demoed focused on these exact topics – Twitter Sparq (self-proclaimed “AdWords for Twitter”), Bantam Live (social CRM), and Twitturly inView (monitoring and reporting). In general, these were some of the most interesting companies that presented at CrunchUp.

Other Interesting Products
Beyond those listed above, the other interesting products or product updates of the day were the following –

PubSubHubbub (Google)
Considering how much people have complained about RSS being slow, the entire audience should’ve stood up and cheered when Brad Fitzpatrick and Brett Slatkin showed off PubSubHubbub. It allows RSS updates to be received without having to poll a feed.

Brad and Brett showed a WordPress post where the feed item showed up in Google Reader before the WordPress page finished loading after the save. They also mentinoned that they were chatting over ATOM and RSS. Crazy.

A big surprise is that PubSubHubbub should now be active on FeedBurner feeds that have PingShot enabled. Dave Winer has two write-ups, describing some of the finer intricacies.

Seesmic has launched a cool web version of their product. It includes OAuth support, a couple of different views of the stream, and syncing Twitter searches with the Twitter Search API.

They also have a number of new updates to their desktop product (now at v0.4) including reducing real estate, all columns being free, and changes in column width. Finally, Loic announced a forthcoming iPhone app.

Brizzly is a daring project by Thing Labs that basically creates a new web interface for Twitter. It includes features such as multiple account support, real-time responses to direct messages, support for drafts, group management, maintaining timeline reading position, and more generally, a really well-designed interface. TechCrunch has more details.

TuneIn might have received the biggest buzz of the day. Partially described it as a “TiVo for Twitter,” tuneit helps lessen the problem of not always paying attention to the stream.

Several features of TuneIn include the ability to sort a timeline by popularity, viewing media (articles, photos, videos) versus just updates, and seeing a “channel,” which is basically viewing another user’s timeline the way he sees it. The latter to me, is one of the most interesting aspects. Check out this video to learn more.

Logistics Suffered
The Fox Theatre is a beautiful venue but it has major shortcomings for an event like this one. Mainly, it was super tight. There were also some basic slaps in the face for the attendees, which had nothing to do with the venue. The biggest was that only the “press” received power outlets for their laptops and other devices. That meant that for most folks, without powering up somewhere else, there was no way to keep laptops running throughout the day.

“Press” also received preferential seating in the first several rows. So, even if an attendee got there early, he couldn’t sit in the reserved area, which was a decent portion of the table seating. There were many in the “press,” who amounted to “A-list” bloggers that rolled in very late and got prime seating with power outlets.

Two final comments about the logistics of the event: 1) It started late and ran late all day. At one point, it was an hour behind schedule. The result was that some sessions and demos were rushed. Overall, it was hard to gauge when a session or demo was actually going to happen. 2) WiFi was spotty at best. I gave up on WiFi within the first fifteen minutes and switched to my laptop connect card. Many demos were run off of cards because the WiFi was so bad. Tech operations, in general, were not very smooth.

As far as events go, I can appreciate that the CrunchUp was relatively reasonably priced. But I don’t think that a strapped budget was the source of these problems.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, the event seemed fairly shortsighted on real-time. Real-time basically appeared as Twitter and Twitter Search. Other topics like SPAM, non-text media like photo and video, larger societal and cultural impacts, etc. were barely touched or mentioned during the day.

SPAM, for example, would have been very relevant, considering that once “#crunchup” became a trending topic on Twitter, a large part of the stream became polluted.

Considering the number of demos given and the extremely large panels, it would be unrealistic for any other topics to be explored in-depth. Ultimately, I think TechCrunch packed significant content into one day. They probably should have just narrowed the focus and set expectations accordingly. For example, one or two more sessions like the morning, along with all the demos, would have been a good balance.

I expect with the number of apps launching in this space and the interest level in the tech community, there will be another, possibly larger event soon.