Lifestreaming aggregators became popular as the number of different applications where you could participate – either by updating your status or by uploading something – increased. The aggregators are here to relieve you from the burden of going to multiple locations to find out what your friends or contacts are up to.
Services like plaxo, spokeo, friendfeed or socialthing (lifestream blog has a more compreheensible list) start by asking your identification on different services. Then they aggregate information you update on those services and let you – and your contacts – access that information from a central location.
This obviously means that the aggregators wouldn’t exist if the services they’re collecting information from weren’t popular. Those lifestreaming services opened the way to this new wave of applications. So, what is lifestreaming, anyway?
Lifestreaming itself is the ability to publish quick updates about what you’re doing or thinking at the moment. Those posts can be very short and textual, or they can contain other media such as pictures, or video. There is a considerable number of available lifestreaming services, with twitter being the most popular.
Some people are questioning the true value of these lifestreaming services. Major concerns are a) the increasing volume of information you’ll have to process; and b) the decreasing willingness to participate by writing more extensive thoughts.
We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore’s Law.
When people post an article on a blog these days, the conversations are occurring offsite. The blog link could be submitted to Digg, Mixx, and/or FriendFeed, and conversations may occur around the topic on those sites instead. The original blog post, meanwhile, has 0 comments.
So, how can lifestreaming and its aggregators be a good thing if they’re disrupting the way you’re used to interact on the Web? I believe we’re in the beginning of a much wider paradigm shift where the interaction will move from localized items – like blog posts – and start spreading all across the Web. What will matter in the future is not the place where you posted your thought or your comment but instead its context.
How will it evolve? Probably microformats will play an important role, as they allow you to refer to disperse pieces of information and define the context of the information you’re publishing. Aggregators and search engines will also play an important role, clustering information according to their context.