i will try and outline it as best as possible..
I have an index view that is simply listing all items and some of their attributes to the user
there is an if statement in the view if one of those items is not doing an action (the rails app is kicking off some server side back end stuff),
if it is doing something the link_to displays show status (with the :remote => true wasn't working), if they click this it goes to the show page, if not they can go to the edit action to start a process (this part works but doesn't need to refresh automatically)
once they click on the show action it lists some of the item's attributes and again use the ajax to update automatically in the background, the status attribute being updated by a server side action running on the system.
I hope that might help a little bit.