The Value Proposition and Migration from Lifestream to Likestream

On Friday I came across this tweet from Brian Frank stating he had switched his Lifestream to a Likestream. Lifestreams normally contain a mashup of both personal content we create as well as content we find interesting that we “like” and share. I found his decision to basically remove his personal content from the equation pretty interesting, insightful, and a sign of something I’ve been paying close attention to.

Brian Frank Likestream

Over the last few months I had shifted my thoughts from the methods we aggregate and display our personal lifestream data to better ways to consume the data we are all putting out there. When I went to SXSW back in March of this year I shared my thoughts about this with many of the people I know who are developers, startups, and the like in the lifestreaming / data aggregation sector. I got a warm reception from many of the folks I spoke to about this topic and even had a discussion with Robert Scoble, Mona Nomura, and Mark Rizzn while I was over there.

Here’s an excerpt from that talk that discusses this topic:

When I returned from SXSW I put my thoughts at the time into a post discussing how to build a content reader that displayed all the information my friends were sharing. Over the last year we’ve started to see a huge surge in tools and services that allow us to share objects we like socially and we’re seeing large numbers of users adopting them. So I think the data to help fuel this type of reader is actually starting to get even better. There are several key things I can point to that I feel are propelling the movement of fine tuning all of us into effective content sharing recommendation engines.

A big shift in the tide came when Facebook released the “Like” button, back in April. While it seems very simple it provided a major mental shift for all of us moving from the verb Fan to Like. This would also set the stage to allow us to easily create “Like” touch points for almost any content on the web that would proliferate beyond Facebook like wildfire. This universal button and gesture has created a simple and effective way for us to highlight content making it much easier than using functionality which differs and is isolated when you do it natively on a service.

Another method that is providing us with the ability to share in new ways is the action of checking in or sharing  what we’re doing besides just locations which Robert discussed in the interview above. There are several services that are pioneering this including GetGlue, Miso, and Hot Potato which was just bought by Facebook. You can get a good comparison of these services on a recent post by Digi Jeff here. I’ve just recently started to experiment with Getglue and their mobile app now available on Android as well as iPhone. In the case of Getglue I can get recommendations based on my like activity and I can view the activity and likes of friends on their profile pages. There’s also a stream page where I can view activity, but I can’t get a well organized aggregated view of all likes based on media types on a single page from the people I follow which I feel could make for a more compelling page.

Recently Flipboard got a lot of attention because they provided a beautiful interface to view the content generated by those you follow on Facebook and Twitter. While this was nice, you can’t define the logic used to display the content based on the popularity of multiple friends sharing something or any other filters to customize who’s content you want to view. I mention Twitter Times (my page) often as a tool I use daily that does offer me a view based on the number of friends linking to a story or other piece of content. There are also other tools that provide interesting ways to consume content shared by friends that are coming like Paper.li (my page)

My Paperli page

Creating more ways to share all the things we consume and like is definitely something that will continue to evolve across the web. This is definitely an area that will get traction as there are huge monetization strategies that can be applied to this data we’re generating. Pair this new age of liking with the ability to break down content by media types, categories, social graph, influence and other variables and you will see some very compelling things coming from this data soon.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Hi Mark,

    Interesting post but I wonder about the value of a pure “like-stream”. To me, your likes are transitory signals thrown off to give props and amplify signals important to a real-time conversation. They are important to enhancing community experience and can also be used by services to learn about your interests and point you to other things you might find interesting but soon scroll away so you're only as good as your last Favorite.

    Reading Paul Carr and Leo Laporte's recent posts (linked below), it's important to note that your Likes should not be a replacement for your original thoughts. It's this running diary of your thoughts and contributions that we should not leave behind. It's who we are and what makes us original.

    http://everwas.com/2010/08/back-to-blogging.html

  2. I agree with this trend and have been working on ways to do this myself. I've seen a couple products in development that look to be working on making this easier, which is great to have online. Flavors.me and squarespace seem to be on the right track, but I think there's a couple levels further to go to make it more easier to aggregate and present your “likestream”

  3. I feel a likestream is very valuable. It offers the ability to get a realtime filtered content discovery. By aggregating likestreams from people in your social graph you can then have that same content prioritized by many factors such as popularity, relevance, or media type and even broken down by categories or a multitude of other ways based on meta data.

    On your thoughts about Leo or Paul…I would never suggest that Likes should replace any of our web activities. They should simply supplement them. I've recently purchased a new camera and plan to write a post on my process of selecting it and the other cameras that were in contention. That is my verbose way of choosing to share the fact that I “Like” this camera but see value in that gesture and the places it could propagate to as a result of it as well.

  4. Perhaps the decision to provide a (solely) likestream is a personal one, but in my case, I prefer a stream that incorporates both third party and original content. When expertly executed, the stream then provides a rich view of a particular topic, including some third-party thoughts that inspired you, your own thoughts on the topic, and things that you found subsequent to sharing your thoughts on the topic.

    In my personal case, Google Reader functions as a “likestream” of sorts (I rarely share my own stuff in Google Reader), but I would think that my Google Reader feed, read in isolation, would not be all that instructive.

  5. I hear you, and I think we're on the same page. My utopian dream is that the Likes bundle up into ever-evolving meta-aggregations of your interests which, as you say, supplement your original posts as well . The old MyBlogLog logo, “You are what you feed” was a vision the team had and we took a reasonable crack at it before we had to all head for the hills.

    Maybe it'll happen someday but Leo and Paul's posts hit home because they both pointed to the importance of posting original content, giving something back. We often forget this and too many of us spend too much time on the ephemeral and not enough time building the substance.

    Look forward to reading more about your camera purchase.

  6. In my case it definitely didn't replace creating content. I think of it as a dynamic bibliography appended to my blog.

    Along the lines of your meta-aggregations idea, in the past I've created feeds for specific projects. E.g. I was preparing for a talk on open democracy and I had a page that aggregated (using FriendFeed) all of my relevant Delicious links, Reader items and tweets with a designated tag. I did it for a few different projects at once and it actually helped me conceptualize them. I was hoping to build dialog around those works-in-progress leading up to the event but it didn't really take off.

    Leo & Paul's posts affected me too and I'm trying to (at the risk of getting too meta) pull more of these thoughts together.

    Btw, thanks Mark! As a regular reader I've enjoyed and learned a lot from your posts.

  7. In my case it definitely didn’t replace creating content. I think of it as a dynamic bibliography appended to my blog.

    Along the lines of your meta-aggregations idea, in the past I’ve created feeds for specific projects. E.g. I was preparing for a talk on open democracy and I had a page that aggregated (using FriendFeed) all of my relevant Delicious links, Reader items and tweets with a designated tag. I did it for a few different projects at once and it actually helped me conceptualize them. I was hoping to build dialog around those works-in-progress leading up to the event but it didn’t really take off.

    Leo & Paul’s posts affected me too and I’m trying to (at the risk of getting too meta) pull more of these thoughts together.

    Btw, thanks Mark! As a regular reader I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from your posts.

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