Blog Post

My Lifestreaming Apps Wish List

eventboxI’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?

16 Responses to “My Lifestreaming Apps Wish List”

  1. @Imran Ali – Thanks. The digest page in feedly is not just about presentation. It actually filters the content of your RSS subscriptions in realtime based on both your own preferences and reading patterns, the reading patterns for the extended feedly community and topical trends derived from twitter and open calais. All this happens transparently under the hood in real-time. But you are correct that it is not social attention it is more centered around content and topics.

  2. Imran Ali

    @Dharm- keep us posted on what you guys have in the pipeline.

    @Edwin- I love Feedly, but its fixing a diff problem and Feedly’s literally limited to presentation, not attention management.

    @Klaus- Lifestream seems to be the same sorta solution as Skimmer and EventBox…

  3. I don’t think you want a lifestream app, but more a socialstream app. Lifestreams tend to aggregate your content into a single stream; a socialstream app would gather the various streams from the various social sites you use and intelligently work through them.

    I would agree that I’d like a program that gathers my various social streams and filters out the uneccesary. I think the apps in good position to do this are RSS aggregators. If they could then take your social streams and filter and flow through them, allow for filtering out, combine, etc. That would be spectacular, then all my info would be in one place.

  4. Hi Imran. I am wondering if you ever had the chance to play with feedly ( It tries to address some of the issues you are describing (although the angle is around content, sources and topics – social is just used for filtering and sharing). It would be interesting to see how we stack up compared to your expectations.

  5. You are heard. We are addressing the same challenges u and most netizens are facing about information overload and visualizations problems. Watch out how semantic technology can change the game of information stream processing.

  6. Imran Ali

    @Tom that’s a great idea – wanna work on it together?

    I actually did start some concept work on a hardware social volume control…think Griffin Powermate :)

  7. 1. You want De-duplication? It’s a great idea and if that worked across idividuals it’d be a meme killer. Genius! I’d happily ignore anyone who used the word “lol” for starters.

    2. You want Relevance AND Long Tail? You want your cake and the other thing… I don’t think you can have both (sorry) but you can have much better visualisation or representation.

    Great post, now how about having a bash at knocking up a demo screen… I’d love to see it.

  8. Dowp, forgot to add iPhone. Yeah, desktop/laptop/iPhone, every time I refresh twitter I’m not sure what I’ve seen. My main issue with ‘the cloud’ and ‘web 2.0’ is that I love the mac desktop interfaces to the cloud for stuff like Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Mature technologies like email allow for imap so that I can easily work on my iPhone/laptop/desktop regardless, the cloud needs to catch onto this if they want more productive people to enjoy their usage…

  9. Imran Ali

    Great point Tobias – I’m constantly frustrated that my iPhone clients for Twitter don’t ‘mark as read’ items that later show up on my OSX client.