HTML and CSS Reference
What Is Realtime?
If you've been keeping up with trends in web development over the last year or two, no doubt you've seen the term
realtime tossed around. But what is realtime? How is it different from current web technologies, and why should we
bother using it?
To better understand what realtime means and how it's changing the Internet as we know it, let's look at the
history of the problem it attempts to solve: how can we affect the state of our web apps on the client side without
requiring any action on the user's part?
The Evolution of Media
Let's be honest: when it comes to information, we have a desire to hear the news first. This desire can be attributed to
a natural thirst for knowledge, the perceived opportunity that being the first to know might give us, or simply because
it means we can be the ones with all the gossip. In some cases, we may even value being the first to get the news more
than we care what the news is about. (That, coincidentally, is the entire reason why hipsters exist.) We want to know
first, and that means we want to know the instant this information becomes available.
How Many People Know About It
Figure 1-1. Perceived value of certain types of information tends to dwindle as it becomes commonplace
This relentless pursuit of staying current has driven us to where we are today: we weren't satisfied with cave
paintings or handwritten tomes; the printing press gave us topics and fliers, but we still wanted more; newspapers and
other periodicals gave us updates as quickly as every morning, but that stuff all happened yesterday ; and radio and
television could only get us information in hours, or—on a good day—minutes.