I’m dissatisfied with the current crop of “lifestreaming” apps. Overall, I think they’re missing a huge opportunity to help users focus their limited attention to the content that really matters.
Last week, for example, Simon covered the release of skimmer, a desktop client that brings together notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and other services. Also recently launched is Cosmic Machine’s EventBox, a Mac-only application that similarly mashes together notifications and messages from a range of web services: Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Flickr and Reddit, as well as the capability to import raw RSS feeds.
Both skimmer and EventBox are pretty and pull a variety of web services into a single stream of information. But as a heavy user of multiple social networks and web apps, neither provides me with any real ability to manage the stream of information I get from all those web services. As far as I can tell, all they really do is to move noise from several separate sources into a single cacophony of content. There are some limited filters to fish out particular keywords from the stream, but nothing that I couldn’t use an RSS reader -– like Google Reader -– to replicate.
So here’s what I’d love to see from lifestreaming tools:
- De-duplication – When friends post the same update to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, I only get one update.
- Social volume control – Over time, lifestreaming apps should understand the content sources and people to which I pay most attention. I should be able to crank up the volume to show me everything, or dial it down to just the people and sources I really want to know about.
- Relevance – A simple text filter is a no-brainer, but how about a relevance filter, looking at what my connections are reading as a collaborative filter for my own content sources?
- Explore the “long tail” – I want my app to signal to me what’s mainstream and what’s niche, to allow me to drill down to esoteric opinions while at the same time getting a broader picture of what’s happening.
- Visualization – The app should let me see at a glance what’s happening in my sphere of connections and content. Let interesting conversations and contents bubble up to the surface so I only need to be distracted by things of importance.
So, what do you want to see in your lifestreaming toolbox?