Over the last few months I’ve had several co-workers connect with me via Plaxo. Along with this I’ve had several of them comment on how active I am on the Plaxo service. They are of course referring to my activity on Plaxo Pulse. When I then begin explaining that the activity isn’t occurring on the Plaxo site per se, but is actually data being imported and aggregated from 3rd party services, I usually get a puzzled look and need to explain what I mean in more detail.
I’m sure this is a very common occurance as more mainstream users become exposed to Lifestreaming functionality. It’s very easy for many of us in the tech field to assume people are familiar with many of the services and concepts that we take for granted. For instance, RSS has been around for a long time, but many in the mainstream haven’t adopted or even understand what it is yet. I think Lifestreaming may hit similar barriers on its way to mainstream penetration.
With the Facebook re-design I have now modified my wall to be a frequently updated rich Lifestream (click image) from all the services I am importing. I’ve also done the same for my Plaxo Pulse page. But I wonder how many of the users on each of these services aren’t familiar or even aware of this functionality and become confused when they wander onto profiles such as mine?
Facebook, Plaxo and most recently AOL have huge existing user bases that now offer Lifestreaming functionality. We will continue to see Lifestreaming proliferate to other top social networking sites, and as it continues to do so, people will need to be get a better understanding of how they can enjoy and benefit from Lifestreaming. I dont think the bigger sites that have come on board are currenlty doing a good job providing resources to educate and help explain the Lifestreaming functionality they are unleashing onto their users and I hope that will change moving forward.