2008 has been a tremendous year for Lifestreaming. When I first began researching Lifestraming back in February of 2007 and then started this blog a month after there were only a few scripts available to create a Lifestream and not a single web service dedicated to them. Since then I have found over 50 services as well as tons of scripts and plugins to host your own. It has clearly become one of the hottest concepts to take off on the web. Here are some of this years highlights.
I started the year with a post titled Will 2008 Bring Lifestreaming to the Masses. Wired had just released an issue with their usual expired/tired/wired list in which Lifestreaming made an appearance. A few days later Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb wrote a Lifestreaming Primer that gave a quick overview and featured 5 services to create a Lifestream. A little over a month later Josh Catone posted 35 Ways to Stream Your Life which built on Richard’s post and provided a huge boost. ReadWriteWeb would continue to be a leading voice on the Lifestreaming front along with plenty of coverage from Mashable, TechCrunch, Webware and plenty more.
FriendFeed breaks out as the leading service
Early in the year several Lifestreaming services were still jockeying for position without a clear leader in the space. That seemed to all change in March when Just a few weeks after FriendFeed had opened up to the public and TechCrunch had featured them as this years Twitter. Mark Rizzin of Mashable provided his thoughts as did Rafe Needleman over at Webware. Louis Gray who was an early adopter provided a list of Elite Bloggers that were joining in droves. Most of these people and many more are now regular users of the service. And finally Robert Scoble has become its leading Evangelist providing the values of the service often throughtout the year and recently recorded a lengthy video to show you.
I have covered many services this year but feel that FriendFeed has clearly made its way to the forefront. One may point to many different reasons for this. Be it the slew of new features, the reliability and speed, the search, or most importantly the release of an API. But I feel that the primary reason most people, including myself, have made it such a frequent destination is the community of users that it has garnered. I have met some really great people, have discovered content, and have participated in some great conversations across a multitude of topics. Its this dynamic interactive community that has led it to the top.
Lifestreaming services become acquisition targets
In late 2007 Google snapped up Jaiku. While some felt it was a play to get get a micro-blogging service to counter Twitter, I heard from several insiders that they had specific interest in the Lifestreaming aspects of the service. In April I discovered Lifestream.fm and was fairly impressed by the service launching with a good set of features immediately to public beta. Some immediately questioned their viability to compete with FriendFeed but just a few weeks later it was announced that they had been acquired by Mister Wong. Another service which was a darling of SXSW and also drew comparisons to FriendFeed (which I found distinct differences in and wrote about) was SocialThing. They continued to get major press and comparisions which led to an eventual purchase from AOL in August.
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and AOL all added Lifestreaming initiatives in 2008
Not to be left behind and seeing the writing on the wall (or walled garden as the case may be) all of the top web companies initiated some sort of Lifestreaming plan this year. I mentioned Google’s acquisition of Jaiku , but they seem to have let it flounder and have pursued other methods to break into Lifestreaming. Most notably they have done this by expanding the Google user profile pages to display data and other services (see my post on this) as well as the release of Friend Connect. Microsoft and Yahoo have also put their Lifestreaming plans in play with new features added to their Windows Live service and the launch of a social control panel respectively. Facebook slowly rolled out several incremental Lifestreaming features to their newsfeed but it’s a bit hidden and doesn’t appear to be doing a major push of it. Lastly I had reported on AOL’s entrance into Lifestreaming with the release of buddyupdates. Just weeks after that the announcement of the SocialThing acquisition came. For the trifecta they also made Lifestreaming front and center on their home page. I think it’s clear that all the major players see the importance of Lifestreaming for their future and are all trying to figure out how to best implement it. I’m sure we will see many more advances from each of them in the year to come.
Lifestreaming to Replace Blogging?
Wired printed an article titled Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004 which essentially discussed the new breed of Lifestreaming that is taking over blogging. The story garnered a large debate with 97 comments at last count. Wired wasn’t the only source for this debate. Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb posted a story titled The Future of Blogging Revealed where she discusses the current trend of Lifestreaming taking over the Blogosphere. Her story mentions an open source app dedicated to Lifestreaming called SweetCron which became very popular this year who’s author Yongfook had already proclaimed that the Blog is dead. Now while I don’t agree with that sentiment, I do believe that adding some form of Lifestreaming components to our sites has almost become a requirement.
Looking towards 2009
So Lifestreaming has really come a long way very quickly and although we’re not there yet, I think the foundation has been laid for it to make huge strides in 2009. I think Lifestreaming needs to go down 2 separate paths in 2009.
The first path is to acquire new users by having existing services and major players focus on making Lifestreaming as simple and straightforward a process as possible. They also need to continue educating users on the benefits of Lifsetreaming to encourage its use.
Now that we are good at easily capturing this mountain of data, we need to find creative ways of using it. So the second path is aimed more at the seasoned early adopters. We need to find better ways to analyze the data and provide unique and meaningful information from it. Part of this will include creating ways of filtering the noise to prioritize the meaningful personalized data for us that currently gets lost as the stream flies by.
2009 is going to be great. Now that so many of us have embraced Lifestreaming we are just looking for better ways to utilize it both personally and professionaly and the coming year should bring many innovations to help us coral this wild beast that was unleashed this year.