Everyone’s data streams for everything visible everywhere

By Ross Dawson on February 19, 2007 | Permalink

Emily Chang has written about a project to aggregate all the information that flows through her life.

“As the calendar rolled to 2007, I kept wishing I could look at all my social activity from 2006 in context: time, date, type of activity, location, memory, information interest, and so on. What was I bookmarking, blogging about, listening to, going to, and thinking about? I still had the urge to have an information and online activity mash-up that would allow me to discover my own patterns and to share my activity across the web in one chronological stream of data (to start with anyway).”

She has now created a data stream that aggregates her blogs and websites, and usage of stylehive, del.icio.us, twitter, plazes, flickr, last.fm, and upcoming. There has been substantial interesting commentary on this initiative already, notably from Grant Robertson, Chris Saad, Daniela Barbosa (including what an enterprise data stream may look like), and Stowe Boyd, who says he’s working on a similar initiative. Stowe writes:

“This traffic flow — made more liquid by RSS and instant messaging style real-time messaging — is the primary dynamic that I believe we will see in all future social apps. Yes, we will want to have our traffic cached — for search and analysis purposes — but we will increasingly move toward a flow model: where the various bits that we craft and throw into the ether — blog posts, calendar entries, photos, presence updates, whatever — will be picked up by other apps, either to display them to us, or to make sense of them. We want to consolidate all into one flow — a single time-stamped thread — that all apps can dip into.
A pal of yours is having a party? He will create the event using some social application site, and the event will be cast into his traffic. Your flow-aware calendar app might snag the event from the traffic, and ask you if you’d like to confirm. You agree, and the agreement is thrown into your traffic, for your buddy and others to make sense of, downstream.”

For me, what this suggests is a world in which many people choose to expose all of their activities to the world. Del.icio.us is a great example. People used to favorite websites on their PC. Now many are happy to do it publicly, so other people can look at what they choose to make note of. Very importantly, this exposing of behaviors provides the foundation for Web 2.0, in that it provides input to allow collaborative filtering and the creation of “collective intelligence”. It seems that many people are thinking about and putting the mechanisms in place to expose all that we do, including our activities in socializing, entertainment, work, and more. Clearly not everyone will choose to expose their activities, yet many will – this has been proven over the last few years. From an enterprise perspective, implementing these kinds of exposing mechanisms inside organizations will allow far more effective knowledge work and business processes – but only after substantially new workflow and systems are put in place to synthesize this plethora of valuable information.

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