We live in the age of digitized social interaction. As demonstrated by the countless gameplay video streams of games over 20 years old, we feel the need to socialize with even the most static digital content. Now, everything is collaborative, en masse and in real-time, so web apps need to be able to handle this concurrent and user-scoped data in an elegant fashion in order to survive.
The traditional approach to handing out clients data in real-time (or quasi-real-time) was to make clients poll the server at regular intervals. This could be achieved by a simple polling (say, every 5 seconds), or long-polling (same as the other, but with longer-lasting sockets and late responses), but now there are new kids in town. The new approach to this situation is to let the server
push the data using a publish/subscribe mechanism, rather than the client
pulling them in, and technologies like
Server-Sent Events were created for this exact purpose.