There was a time when word that financial websites were posting real-time stock quotes online would have been big news. In the late 1990s, you had to pay hundreds of dollars a year to get access to such services; today, most investors can get them via their online brokerage accounts.

So the report that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) Wall Street Journal website, CNBC, and Xignite would start displaying real-time stock quotes is really a non-event, even though it comes a week after Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) rolled out its own system.

Perhaps when all this "Internet stuff" was new, it would have been a big deal for investors to get their hands on this up-to-the second data. But hopefully, the time has long passed where reacting to each twitch in a stock's price causes anyone anywhere to do anything. Do you suppose the great investors of our day -- Peter Lynch, Warren Buffett, Mohnish Pabrai, Bill Miller -- really care what a stock's price is doing rightthissecond. Or thisone?

The Internet has obviated the need for such instantaneous information, becoming a great leveler of information access. From discount brokers, free online access to SEC filings, and Regulation FD, to pioneering sites like, yes, The Motley Fool, which helped get Reg FD passed, the entire structure of Wall Street has been turned upside-down.

It's no longer necessary to pay a high-priced broker a commission and additional fees for trading your account like it was his own personal piggy bank. Now you can make all the decisions for yourself. Companies are now required to keep you in the loop, just like the analysts. And you can access not only company documents at the SEC, but also engaging, educational content about the stocks that interest you here at the Fool.

The Internet has brought Wall Street to Main Street, creating an entire consumer-oriented industry geared toward helping you take responsibility for your own financial future. In this brave new world, real-time stock quotes just seem so ... 1990s.

Sure, we'll enjoy knowing that when we look up a quote for Cisco, Dolby Labs, or Starbucks, it won't be a glimpse 15 minutes into the past. The Internet Age is already a real-time world where news and information flow as they happen, and there's no reason real-time stock trading data shouldn't be available as well.

But while the system is only just catching up to the sea change that has occurred in the markets since the dawn of the Internet, you still don't have to react to it. Nor should you. Your portfolio will thank you for ignoring this news flash.

Further non-real-time Foolishness: