Web experts are developing technologies capable of tracking online conversations in real time, even when those conversations are distributed across the Web. For example, popular videos and articles often get re-posted and discussed on hundreds of sites, and the creators of that content may want to be able to follow those discussions. In response, new Web protocols have been developed that provide notifications when new content is available. One protocol, pubsubhubbub, can push content out to feed readers as it is updated. Another, Salmon, enables comments to “swim upstream” to connect to the original post. In a keynote address at the recent Defrag 2009 technology conference, speaker Kevin Marks said that these types of technologies are needed for today’s Web, where content rapidly flows from one site to another. Gathering this distributed content and related discussions could be critical for people who want to participate in the conversation that surrounds the content they post online, particularly because people are increasingly likely to discuss and interact with content away from the site it was originally posted, according to PostRank chief technology officer Ilya Grigorik. For protocols like Salmon to work, they would have to be adopted by both content publishers and services that may subscribe, distribute, or discuss that content. When new content appears, the publisher could use pubsubhubbub to notify subscribers, who would use Salmon to send back any information or discussions to the publisher.
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