Ever since Jaws hit theaters, the world has not been a safe place for ocean lovers, or for sharks, either. Western Australia has a neat solution where 338 sharks have been tagged with tracking devices that are connected to a Twitter account. If one of the tagged sharks comes close to a popular beach, the tag transmitter sends a tweet. Lifeguards, surfers, and swimmers can then decide if they want to be in the water. Or not.
Talk about a real-time update that matters in a big way. Nearly 31,000 people tune in to the Surf Life Saving WA Twitter feed. Now, as a former SCUBA instructor and general ocean-loving guy, I’m not sure I want to know this information. I’m pretty sure I would get a waterproof case for my phone and watch it more than I’m watching the surf or the underwater world around me while waiting for the dreaded tweet of “Great White shark right behind you…”
The power of Twitter might change my ocean-going behavior (not really), but the real-time capacity of all social networks continues to amaze us and draw us in. Some may still claim that they don’t understand what people like about the Twitter, in particular, but a fairly good portion of the world gets real-time updates of all types from Twitter’s SMS-like platform – 77 percent of the company’s users are outside the USA, according to a Motley Fool post.
We tune in to social networks to receive airline flight updates via FlightRadar24 to celebrity sightings to the latest update on what Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has to say. We crave this instant update switch. Real-time updates have been adopted by most social and mobile platforms – take a look in the iTunes app store for bird watching apps to weather services to up-to-the-minute job postings. You can adjust your real-time (aka push notifications) on Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, among others, where you receive instant news via your smartphone or desktop email inbox.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that 73 percent of online adults use social networking sites. That’s not a huge surprise, but instant news is a big part of that usage. Read the Pew Research Journalism Project for more info on news consumption via social media. As you would guess, the majority use Facebook, but among certain demographic groups Twitter usage is higher.
Real time updates are gaining speed as we seek to stay in the know. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) trend makes the instant update available to our things as well – with home automation (read the news about Google acquiring Nest) to manage our thermostats or to turn our lights on and off. IoT helps us track our fitness, water our plants (see Botanicalls), find our keys, or start brewing a cup of tea. We want our social network transactions and participation to translate into real-life action.
We may not love the idea of knowing there is a shark swimming up behind us, but we don’t mind using social networks to help us make better decisions, save time, or get more done. Sharing with friends may not be the only way we use Facebook or Twitter in the future.
Or this vast underwater field trip from WEMOLAB: