The Year in Lifestreaming for 2008

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.

Lifestreaming is Wired!

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?

click for YongFook's Slideshow

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.

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. I don't think that blogging will die away anytime soon, but that blog frequency will decrease as more people lifestream. I know for me that I certainly do not read many blogs in my RSS feed reader anymore, as I now look to Friend Feed for getting the latest updated news. I also don't publish as often to my blog unless I want to say something that requires more than 140 characters or want to write a detailed post. However, blogs serve a good purpose if you have an article you want to comment on, or post video and photos that are embedded, or you want to put some structure to your opinions. One thing is that each status update does not have a specific URL, so many times you have to use the @ symbol to refer to the individual but you can't reference back to the status or tweet in Twitter from your comment.

  2. Hi Mark,

    First, congrat for the coverarge in 2008, your blog is my reference for market research in lifestreaming, tracking what others are doing and gaining insight and opinions by reading the comments. Thanks for doing this, I'm looking forward to 2009 !

    Second, I wonder if the term lifestreaming has not evolved to designate multiple kind of services, each worth having heir own category. I see at least two, maybe there is more. Here is a quick draft of my thinking, I'm sure you can write this better in a post if you see value in it !

    1. Social aggregators (Friendfeed, Lifestream.fm, Socialthing): They are tools where you are mainly the consumer of information. It enables you to get all the activities of your friends in one place. These sites can become your browser start page, you want to visit them all the time.
    -> Here you are a consumer of content

    2. Social streams (Storytlr, Tumblr, Soup.io, Sweetcron): An evolution of the blog, these services centralize all your social activities in one single place on the web. Users like to link this to their own domain (e.g myusername.com). It serves as the reference of their online identiy. It is mainly read by real friends and family, interested by the person whereabouts.
    -> Here you are a producer/editor of content

    What do you think ?

  3. Lifestreaming really had three big newish participants for me this year: FriendFeed, Socialmedian and Strands (practically in that order). We saw MyBlogLog, Plaxo, LetsProve and others that also played lifestream, but didn't do nearly as good of a job.

    I'm pleased that my early gut feeling on FriendFeed turned out to be right, and that we ended up having a lot more help in making the service known. It's hard to bang the drum loud enough just by yourself! That also let me reduce the FriendFeed discussion on my blog once others had picked up the chant, so I could go back to being more diverse.

  4. Lifestreaming is the future….no doubt….it is the easiest, efficient way to consume information….I am excited for 2009 and look forward to the incorporation of video, now that HD Video is much easier to upload……

  5. Nice post. I would add that it was also a great year the first webwide lifestream aggregator, Plaxo. We saw enormous growth in users, had a successful acquisition by Comcast, and continued to accelerate the movement from “walled gardens” to an interoperable, open Social Web.

  6. John, I have covered Plaxo quite a bit on this blog. Beginning in October of '07 I wrote about when Wired ran a story about them bringing Lifestreaming to the masses and when Scoble interviewed you about Pulse. I applaud Plaxo for being there early on and helping pioneer Lifestreaming. You also pointed out the Comcast acquisition which I failed to mention in my post (an edit may be in order). Glad you came by to read and reflect and I wish you and your team the best in the coming year.

  7. There are many terms used to describe what I've chosen to refer to as Lifestreaming. I wrote a post on many of the terms used back in April '07. There have been many more terms added since then. I don't believe in trying to label the varying forms of it because (a) it confuses people and (b) chances of mass adoption are pretty slim. Ultimately I don't care what people call it as long as they do it 🙂

  8. Louis, I feel there is a distinct difference between true Lifestreaming services that are built specifically with the functionality front and center versus those that bolt it on as an added feature. It's a hard proposition for the latter to become leading services in the area since they prioritize another primary function as a service to their users.It can also be either confusing or a distraction if not implemented well. Adding Lifestreaming functionality should be well thought out in these cases and that's not always the case. I think that is the primary reason why some of the other services in this sector have suffered.

  9. I think lifestreaming is a great way to collect all the online streams we create into one place, but I don't think it will go mainstream or kill blogging in 2009 either.

  10. Oh great post. I wasn't aware that lifestreaming is the newest thing. I wonder what will be next? I mean sooner or later lifestreaming will end up on the tired pile

  11. Hi Thao, actually Lifestreaming isn't exactly new, just starting to gain more popularity and momentum. Wired may end up delegating Lifestreaming to the tired pile, but I think it's here to stay. It may morph into some other variations both from a tools and content perspective but the concept isn't going anywhere.

  12. You might have a point there. I remember when blogging was the coolest thing around, now people are saying blogging is dead. I disagree though. I just figured it would be teh same for lifestreaming.

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Mark Krynsky

I created Lifestream Blog and hope you enjoy the site. I'm always looking for contributors so contact me if you're interested. You can follow the rest of what I like to write about at my personal site or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+
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