I dig this live leaderboard of popularity of articles across all of Gawker's properties (the Big Board). It updates in close to real-time with a simple reader count. Clicking on any article brings up more information on engagement with that article.
Back when I was at Amazon.com, we had tinkered with the idea of making shopping on Amazon seem less lonely and more social, like shopping in the real world at a mall. That was back in an age before social networking services like Facebook and Twitter whose live feeds give one the sense of other people online alongside you as you browse. The Gawker implementation is another way for sites that aren't inherently social to achieve the same feeling.
Nowadays, with most of the studios licensing their movies to a whole slew of channels across the cable dial, movies seem to loop endlessly. Something's always playing on some channel. However, when I was in elementary school, back in the age when we only really had the three major networks on TV, back before DVRs and VCRs, ABC would occasionally air a James Bond movie, and it felt more momentous because I felt the presence of all the other viewers in the country watching that movie at the same time. No time-shifting, no DVD version to pop in at a later date. If you wanted to watch the movie, you had to sit there with everyone else in the country, and we were all watching the same moment in that movie. The attentional synchronicity felt magical, even if I'd never want to go back to that age of strictly scheduled entertainment.
At Hulu, when we were tinkering with design concepts for a next generation programming guide for television, we had played around with offering a channel/programming sort based on the volume of viewers at that very moment, with extra weight given to those programs being watched by your friends (according to your social network of choice). The Gawker Big Board reminded me of some of those concepts.