Lifestreaming 101 – Don’t Cross the Streams
History has a tendency to repeat itself, mostly because the inventors weren’t old enough to have been around the first time. Having a blog is the same as having a BBS twenty years earlier; using Twitter is the same as using IRC. Of course there are differences , but progress is built on the shoulders of giants.
Like how 2007 was the year of microblogging, 2008 is the year of lifestreaming. People are becoming more comfortable with the idea after learning to swim in Facebook’s pond , and they’re ready to start swimming into the raging rivers of the public Internet. But before these neophyte tadpoles start eating flies, there’s one thing they need to learn:
Don’t cross the streams.
What Is Lifestreaming?
As we use the Internet, we’re generating all kinds of information:
- Writing blog posts
- Listening to music
- Talking to friends
- Playing video games
- Watching/reviewing movies
- Reading/reviewing books
Lifestreaming is taking all that information from different sources, and sticking it in one place so that people who find it interesting can see what I’m up to. It’s less stalking, and more “this person has similar tastes to me so I’m interested in what they’re interested in.”
Producers and Consumers
The easiest way to think about lifestreaming is that you have a bunch of websites that act as producers of information. Last.fm is producing what I’m listening to. Twitter is producing who I’m talking to. Delicious is producing what I think is interesting. GoodReads is producing what I’m reading. My blog is producing what I’m writing about.
Then you have the lifestreaming software that consumes these sources and builds a lifestream. Sources/sinks. Sources/destinations.Generators/monitors. Inputs/outputs. You get the idea, no matter what the terminology is.
You use some websites to generate original information, and you use other websites to take that information and combine it into something new.
Don’t Cross the Streams
But here’s the thing: if you want other people to pay attention to your lifestream then don’t cross the streams. The internet is an attention economy  and anything you can do to make it easier for people to pay attention to you, the way they want to, the better it will be for your personal brand.
- If you share items on Google Reader but also save those items to Delicious then pick one source for your lifestream, not both.
- If you StumbleUpon the sites your saving in Delicious then pick one source for your lifestream, not both.
- If you use Twitter to talk, and then set up a repeater for Jaiku and Pownce then pick one source for your lifestream, not both.
- If you’re using multiple lifestreaming services then don’t feed them back into one another.
The #1 reason why I unsubscribe from someone’s lifestream is because they’re repeating themselves too often. This happens most often when they lifestream with Tumblr and then include that Tumblr lifestream into Friend Feed. They’re creating a feedback loop in their lifestream, and that creates noise. 
I might not have the most evolved taste in music, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to noise. 
A quick rule of thumb is to get your producers and consumers straight. Am I using this site to produce original information or is it a copy of information I’m producing somewhere else? Don’t merge the copies back into each other. That creates information pollution.
So take a look at your profile page to see how it looks on the outside. Is there a lot of duplication going on? Don’t cross the streams.  Do your followers a favor and turn off the noise. Make it easier for them to follow you.
- Twitter is a kind of mesh IRC where instead of /ignoring the people you don’t like, you /follow to the people you do like.
- It’s a big pond.
- More information about the attention economy at Wikipedia, First Monday and ReadWriteWeb.
- The #2 reason is because they produce so much information that I can’t keep track of anyone else. #3 is because we don’t have that much in common.
- I saw one guy import his tumblr into friendfeed, his friendfeed into tumblr, and then twitter into both of them. Infinite loops.
- Unless you have to kill Gozer the Traveller.
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