I’m glad to see that “realtime” is officially one word now rather than two. It’s an update long overdue. That space between “real” and “time” had become an annoyance. Looking at it was like peering into a black hole of unengaged consciousness, a moment emptied of stimulus. It was more than an annoyance, actually. It was an affront to the very idea of realtime. As soon as you divide realtime into real time it ceases to be realtime. Realtime has no gaps. It’s nonstop. It runs together.
Believe it or not, it was not much more than a thousand years ago when some scribe in a monastery – some monk – decided to begin putting spaces between words. Uptothenpeoplewrotelikethiswithallthewordsbangingagainsteachother. Monks don’t live in realtime. They live in the blank spaces – and for the last millennium they’ve forced us to live in the blank spaces with them. It’s been a drag. I think if it were up to monks, we’d all write like this:
All spaces, no letters. Total disengagement from the here and now. Unrealtime. I mean: un real time.
But it wasn’t just that one meddlesome monk. Pretty much the whole history of civilization has been a war on realtime. Culture, we’ve been taught, is what goes on in the blank spaces, the mind-holes that open up when we exit realtime. Before the civilizers came along to muck things up – to put things in perspective, as they’d probably say – the universe was entirely realtime. There was no before. There was no after. There was only the instant in which stuff happens.
Realtime is our natural state – it’s what we share with the other animals – and now at last we’re going back to it. Listen to the birds. They’ll tell you all you need to know: realtime is a stream of tweets. Yesterday, when he announced the twitterification of Facebook, the realtiming of the social network, Mark Zuckerberg said, “We are going to continue making the flow of information even faster.” The first one to remove all the spaces wins.
This post is an installment in Rough Type’s ongoing series “The Realtime Chronicles,” which began here.