Real-time buzz and other 2009 goodies

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John Gushue
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The year is down to its final hours, the champagne is chilled and my calendar for 2010 is suspiciously filling up already. Before I get into the swing for what the coming year has in store, here are some markers of the year we're putting behind us, with nods to the big trends and favourite moments of 2009.

Real time goes prime time

What we call the real-time web hit its stride in 2009, and is likely to evolve even further and more powerfully in 2010.

Surf's up - The year is down to its final hours, the champagne is chilled and my calendar for 2010 is suspiciously filling up already. Before I get into the swing for what the coming year has in store, here are some markers of the year we're putting behind us, with nods to the big trends and favourite moments of 2009.

Real time goes prime time

What we call the real-time web hit its stride in 2009, and is likely to evolve even further and more powerfully in 2010.

The web has always operated in real time, of course; it's just been difficult to know what's happening, and being published and said, as it happens.

Google has led the way with search results that emphasize the instantaneous. Twitter and its myriad spinoff applications have made the real-time web a hot item. And even on Facebook, millions of users have become accustomed to real-time connections.

Thanks to instantaneous notifications, two or 20 friends can have a rapid-fire running commentary on a photo, note or status update.

Best download deal

tinyurl.com/downloaddeal

The link above will take you to an iTunes page for a massive collection of classical music called 111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon, and I apologize if you think you're about to get a deal.

Unfortunately, this deal was a boo-boo, and it lasted for just a few days in October, when the package - 730 tracks of masterworks - was selling for just $9.99. Turns out the right price was $119.99 - what a difference two digits makes. We noticed some chatter on Facebook and logged on straight away. It took hours to download the lot, and not long after, iTunes corrected the price.

Favourite online shop

That would be Tee Fury, which sells one-of-a-kind T-shirt designs for just US$9 ... with the catch that each design is available for only 24 hours.

I bought a Star Wars Christmas parody (an AT-AT walker done up as a reindeer, in a scene called Merry Hothmas) for everyone in the family.

Augment this

Augmented reality got a fair bit of attention in 2009, although AR is far, far from mainstream use. (Or real reality, as it were.) The idea is that we'll be able to mash up devices and software with interactive applications, often with a GPS tossed in there somewhere. For instance, you will one day be able to point your phone at a restaurant and have its menu downloaded to you; tourists can have real-time information served up as they navigate their way through attractions and to destinations. Expect some deliverables in 2010.

Favourite podcast

I subscribe to several dozen podcasts, which is probably a few dozen more than I need. I will probably spend some time this week doing mass-deletes of the 35 gigs I've accumulated. In the meantime, I never miss the Friday Night comedy podcast from the BBC, which makes the weekends a little funnier.

Biggest delayed-enthusiasm app

Google Wave is very cool; I've read and been told that dozens of times. That said, I don't use it. I can't quite see how it would apply to my life yet.

I'm not saying Google Wave, which allows teams to work together simultaneously on projects, sharing their documents and communications, is useless; far from it. I'm simply one of the people that can't apply it. I'm curious to see how it and its sure-to-emerge competitors will evolve.

Those 'awww' moments

A piece in the new issue of Vanity Fair argues that America has become addicted to cuteness, with endless websites devoted to panda bears, kittens and babies.

Fair enough, but there's a good reason why certain exceptionally short videos (think of that baby kicking his or legs in step while watching Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" video, or the kitten that popped its paws out after being tickled) spread around like a tornado. Amid a chaotic day, everybody needs a smile.

That's all.

John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue.

Organizations: Google, BBC, Vanity Fair

Geographic location: America, St. John's

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