A lifestream, or activity stream, is a single thread of compiled online activities. They crop up in several different venues, like the notifications in Facebook combining app activity and relevant posts or Twitter's interactions showing mentions, retweets, and new follows. The idea is simple: display all the important activity into a single stream that is relevant to the end user (and at times, triggers new interaction).

This Lifestream

So what is my lifestream? Think of it more like an archive of activities. One thing I find frustrating about most of the social networks I'm part of is how fragmented the audience can be. I like to run, but that information isn't relevant to most of my Twitter followers. I like to read, but that isn't relevant to my blog posts. I don't want to push everything to a single network and alienate those relationships. However, it would be nice to display and archive the wide variety of activities I do on a daily basis in a non-obtrusive, inclusive way. So, this lifestream.

The Mechanics

How did I make this? A lot of cron jobs and plenty of mistakes. Twitter has been a mainstay through the years, although it's changing API has forced me to rewrite my scripts multiple times (yay OAuth!). Goodreads is a simple way to keep track of the books I've read and has a fantastic API, and the same goes for dailymile. One of the more frustrating feeds has been Hulu, who completely removed their API with no warning and left me with no way of pulling and saving the shows I watch.

Future Applications

Where is this lifestream going? Well, I'm getting more interested in contextual formatting. Twitter is a great example of this, with even their API pulling contextual pieces of information along with the actual tweet. I can use this to enrich the text, adding links and meta information to each entry. Instead of simple text and maybe a link back to the source I want to add relevant imagery and data to each post. I want my activity feed to be more than a flat stream of words. Just as every day life is a rich experience, I want my lifestream to be a vibrant, breathing representation of my daily journey.