Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, May 04, 2009

What's next? - The Man Who Made Gmail Says Real-Time Conversation is What's Next


Paul Buchheit built the first version of Gmail in one day. Then he built the first prototype of Google's contextual advertising service Adsense, in one day as well. Now he's working on a much-watched startup called FriendFeed that he believes just brought to market the next big form of communication online: flowing, multi-person, real-time conversations.

"Realtime is often an easier and more efficient way of communicating because an entire conversation can happen in a matter of minutes or seconds. It's similar to the difference between a phone call and a series of voice mails -- the phone call occurs in realtime so the entire conversation can often be concluded very quickly. It's also critical for timely information -- for example, on our internal FriendFeed group I may post a message about running an update on the live system, and it's important that everyone see that message immediately.

One of the advantages of FriendFeed over other realtime systems such as IM is that it also works non-realtime. For example, at the end of the day I'll often browse my "best of day" view to see what the top stories and discussions of the day were."

"The open, realtime discussions that occur on FriendFeed," he says, "are going to become a major new communication medium on the same level as email, IM and blogging." That's a pretty ambitious claim, but Buchheit has the credibility to make it.

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