memorial
image courtesy of Flickr user Bill Barber

The other day I got this email from a reader:

Hello,
I’m a big fan of your blog and lifestreaming in general. I was wondering if you could help me out. A very good friend of mine passed recently, and I wanted to create an online memorial, reflecting his online life. He was on many sites. I’ve tried using Sweetcron, however it will only pull info from the latest rss feeds. What I’m looking for is a service that allows you to login to many accounts and pulls information from the beginning.

Do you have any suggestions on a service that might do this? I thought sweetcron would be great, so I could set it to randomize the postings to keep the site more lively and less static, so that would be a great feature to have as well.

Much thanks for your help.

-Sean

I’ve given thought to and discussed using Lifestreams as archived memorials in the past but really have never explored methods on how to achieve it. I spent a little time thinking about this but didn’t feel like I really had a good answer for Sean.

Regardless, I wanted to give him some ideas nonetheless so I responded with this:

Sean,
I gave this some thought tonight and the problem you may encounter is that some sites may not provide a fully archived feed using the standard RSS url. I think it will vary depending on the service. If you come across feeds that don’t provide enough info, then you may want to contact the site to see if there is a way to get access to the full feed somehow. I can’t currently think of another way around that issue.

But if you have a complete feed over a long period of time, then you have a few options that I can think of right now:
http://storytlr.com is a service that is very nice and is the only one that I know of that offers the ability to create “story’s” where you can define services to pull in feed data as well as the start / end date. I’ve attached a screenshot for you to see what I mean.

Other than that you may also want to try one of the timeline based lifestreaming services such as http://allofme.com , http://lifeblob.com, http://dipity.com or http://dandelife.com . I have reviews of some of these here: http://lifestreamblog.com/create/ .

Hope this helps a little. If I come across anything else I’ll let you know.

Mark

Lifestreaming is still very much in its infancy but it is clear that it’s becoming the digital diary of the new millennium. My grandparents died when I was very young and I never got to hear them tell their story. All I have are photo albums and the stories from the rest of the family. How amazing would it be to have access to rich Lifestreams of our ancestors to hear about their lives in their own words? Well as more people begin adopting Lifestreaming, and the services get perfected to achieve this, I think Lifestream memorials will become a reality in the future.

Now I’ll say that I haven’t had a chance to give this too much more thought, but I wanted to just think out loud and share my thoughts with you on this. Perhaps some of you can provide insight or ideas in the comments on a recipe to achieve this with current tools, or perhaps a developer will read this and incorporate some of these ideas into an existing service or create a new one. I see this as something that will become a VERY important aspect of Lifestreaming in the future.

I see creating a memorial from a Lifestream posing a few challenges. As Sean stated, using the standard logic of a reverse chronological way to display the data just doesn’t work. I offered a few options, but none quite offer a great solution.

I see the following as some issues / features necessary to create a memorial:

  1. Getting full data exports from the services used to create the Lifestream / Memorial
  2. Providing the ability to curate (manually select) individual stream items into custom views (Timeline, calendar, events, etc.)
  3. Ability to manually add items and inject them (timeframe-wise) anywhere into the Lifestream (photos, videos, documents, scans, etc)
  4. Offer an online, offline, or combination of both ways to view the content
  5. Support more than 1 person to create a Familystream

I’m sure I can think of more but just want to get the brain juices going. I think we have some of these features and functionality scattered across existing services on the web but nothing that combines them all cohesively for this type of application.

For the first issue of getting the data, I’m not sure how it could be accomplished as I think it’s dependent on the services the data is stored on and how easy it is to get access to it. In most cases simply supplying an RSS feed won’t cut it and every service will have its own unique method of getting a full data dump, if that’s even possible. Some current services that I can think of that exist that could be helpful here are Gnip, Lifestreambackup, Storytlr (offers exporting) and BackupMyTweets & BackupMyPics.

Most Lifestreaming services only offer the standard reverse chronological method of displaying data. As I mentioned in the email there are a few other options with Timeline based Lifestreaming services and Storytlr, but that’s not flexible enough for creating a Memorial.

There also isn’t the ability to manually add items (including from your local computer) with more control over parameters such as a specific date and time although a service I covered a while back that is still around and now open source called Dandelife had the ability to do it at the month/year level.

I also see a memorial app as needing an offline or local client version. There are many reasons for this including portability, distribution, using local assets, etc. The app would need to offer the ability to import from external services as well as use local assets. This makes me think of an app / service like Picasa which offers both online and offline components that can communicate with each other. I also believe Picasa has some of the curating functions as well.

Anyways, I find this topic very interesting and a new fork in the Lifestreaming road. I’m hoping it inspires someone to create something we can all use to do this in the future. While I’m on this subject I thought I’d also mention another relevant and thought provoking article written by Mike Fruchter titled What happens to our social profiles after we die? which touches similar issues that you may find interesting

UPDATE:
I didn’t mention ThisMoment which is another “timeline based” Lifestreaming service that also has some nice features that could be used to create a memorial. You can also find reviews of them on Webware, Mashable, and ReadWriteWeb.

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