Surf around the web, and you’ll see that, despite the explosion of real-time user activity, most sites are still pretty static. But users likely aren’t going to stand for that much longer. They’re increasingly going to want to spend time in places that don’t simply broadcast to them, but let them participate. A new tool being rolled out today by San Francisco-based Echo could help them do just that–and publishers and others are already starting to use it.
Echo’s new e2 lets publishers use real-time activity–whether status updates or tweets or check-ins or photos–as building blocks in whatever experience those publishers want to create. Sports Illustrated has used the tool to create a space where users can submit questions–and vote on each others’ questions–for upcoming interviews with sports figures. USA Networks used it to create a place called Character Chatter that captures all the real-time conversations about a particular TV show in a single place so fans can track what’s being said about it.
“The major publishers that we’re talking to have a series of requests,” Echo CEO Khris Loux tells Fast Company.
“They want to assemble their own experiences, not handouts from
Facebook or Twitter. [And] the agencies we’re talking to want tight
control over the look and feel.”
It’s a huge step forward from what’s available today. Yes, both Facebook and Twitter offer certain streams or widgets that publishers can add to their sites. But they generally end up looking like slapped-on add-ons rather than integrated experiences—you can plop a hump on a horse, but it still looks like a horse with a hump, not a camel. Publishers don’t want to build horses with humps. They want to build camels and e2 makes that possible.
Chris Saad, Echo’s VP of strategy, compares e2 to Amazon’s EC2: Echo does all the massive computing required to capture and manage activity on the real-time web, and brands can use it as a service. In fact, Echo is calling it just that–“real time as a service.”
“The new unit of currency on the Internet is activity data,” Loux says. “And the new captains of the web are the teams with the creativity and insight to build highly social real-time experiences with that data.”
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E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com’s Silicon Valley reporter. Email.