"Think" blog author John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks, wrote a fascinating piece entitled "Distribution...now", about the emergence of the "Now" web - an interactive experience fed by the flow (or streams) of real time data. It's well worth the read, and here's some bits:
"Dave Winer put it this way: 'think about Twitter as a rope of information — at the outset you assume you can hold on to the rope. That you can read all the posts, handle all the replies and use Twitter as a communications tool, similar to IM — then at some point, as the number of people you follow and [that] follow you rises — your hands begin to burn. You realize you can't hold the rope you need to just let go and observe'
...[data stream] context is provided mostly via social interactions and gestures. People send out a message...[their] network pick up from there. The message is re-tweeted, favorite’d, liked or re-blogged, appropriated with attribution to creator or the source message...it spins, picking up velocity and more context as it swirls."