thanks for the this post
Lifestrea.ms offers you a single solution for gathering all of your various online identities and publishing destinations into a single social media space.
Given that many of us use more than one, and in some cases a whole plethora of different services as we browse and publish to the web, the idea of being able to somehow bring all of this disparate content together for once comes as a very welcome promise.
Let's say you use Twitter for short messages to friends, Flickr for photo-sharing, YouTube for uploading video, Google Reader for your RSS feeds, del.icio.us for social bookmarking, and on and on. Sooner or later you might start suffering from social networking fatigue, dreading the prospect of signing into these various accounts to check up on or produce content.
Lifestrea.ms - which is currently in private beta - provides you with a solution.
With Lifestrea.ms, which uses a whole host of open standards, you can import content from just about any social media destination on the web, gather it together into a single "life stream" and even publish new content to your various accounts without having to visit their respective websites.
Add to this the ability to create various profiles for friends, work, and even lovers, depending on what you want to share with each of them, and you have not only a powerful aggregation and authoring tool but also an excellent way to control what you share with your different online social media contacts.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Lifestrea.ms is packed with features, and I take a look at how they all fit together in this in-depth review.
I don't think I've yet seen a lifestreaming application that offers integration with other services on the level that lifestrea.ms manages.
Certainly Tumblr provides a great looking, minimalist approach to the same concept, Jaiku offers a nice mobile lifestreaming app, and Profilactic has an impressive amount of social networks to aggregate, but from what I've seen Lifestrea.ms seems to take things to the next level.
For one Lifestrea.ms goes beyond simply aggregating the content from your various online accounts - it also makes it very easy for you to cross-post to them - so if you upload a photo to Lifestrea.ms, you can have it simultaneously sent over to your Flickr account.
The net result is less an aggregation service than it is a "nerve center", a single location that you can both gather and author the vast majority of your social media from without having to visit multiple websites.
But it's more than that, because thanks to heavy use of some open standards, Lifestrea.ms makes it easier than ever for people to access your attention profile through APML, your online contacts through XFN, and several other useful functions besides.
In short this makes for an incredibly open, flexible way to navigate your online news, status updates, media and relationships. And thanks to some smart privacy settings you can even create multiple profiles for different facets of your life, so that your boss, your friends and your grandma see a different stream of information about you according to your preferences.
At the time of writing Lifestrea.ms is in private beta, which means you'll need to apply for an invitation from the Lifestrea.ms website for the time being.
Once you have an invitation, though, you can get started in setting up a profile.
You'll be asked the usual questions in setting up your profile, with the chance to upload your photo, supply your contact information and so on. Once you've provided this basic information, Lifestrea.ms sets about running several searches on your name, and proceeds to create a form of "ego feed" whereby you can track what other people are saying about you or your content online.
You can select which if any of the feeds offered you'd like to subscribe to, and if you aren't sure, can leave them all activated by default.
Next you'll be presented with a list of recent articles and social media that have been picked up in the searches on your name, and you can lend Lifestrea.ms a hand by indicating whether the search items are content produced by you, on your blog, Flickr account, YouTube account etc., about you, by others referencing your work, or unrelated in the case where the search results prove to be a little off the mark.
Once you've gone through this quick set-up process, you'll be ready to start importing or inviting your contacts. While it's quite possible to use Lifestrea.ms without sharing your content with friends, the ability to search through other users lifestreams, and to message your friends within the application certainly make for a much fuller experience of the service.
Lifestrea.ms makes it very easy for you to invite friends, family and colleagues into your network of contacts. You can use a simple manual invitation form and send out emails directly from your Lifestrea.ms account.
Alternatively, you can have Lifestrea.ms automatically bring your contacts in from your existing online email accounts, desktop email clients and social networks, and send out invitations that way, which is a nice feature that makes the process of inviting numerous friends a breeze.
If you wish Lifestrea.ms will also synchronize any accounts you add on a weekly basis, so that your contacts stay up to date as they change.
The list of services supported for importing and synchronizing contacts is impressive indeed. You can use your address book from the following online mail accounts:
You can also use three popular desktop mail applications:
Furthermore you can send out invitations via your existing social network profiles on the following services:
This makes for a comprehensive list of places you might find yourself visiting online, and is likely to take care of a lot of peoples' needs. I like the idea of being able to bring in my contacts from around the web with ease, and this seems to be an increasingly popular feature in social media aggregation tools, such as Plaxo Pulse, which seems to aim to achieve a similar effect to Lifestrea.ms, but offers, in my personal opinion, a less than satisfying online experience.
Of course beyond the import features in Lifestrea.ms there is also a well-developed social networking feature-set built right in, allowing you to browse the profiles of other users, add them to your contacts, and send messages back and forth without recourse to third-party tools.
One of the features in Lifestrea.ms that I'm particularly keen on is the ability to create multiple profiles, and select which of the information you create and aggregate with Lifestrea.ms will be shared with each.
Lifestrea.ms automatically creates (and assigns OpenIDs to) seven different profiles when you create your account. They are:
This is an excellent idea and the perfect solution to the growing number of instances of people losing jobs or coming into difficulties due to their activities online. By being able to filter information into these different categories, you not only have a quick way to organize your information easily, but also a means to make sure that your lifestreams are only seen by the people you want to see them.
When you set up a new service for integration with Lifestrea.ms you'll be prompted as to which group you'd like to share your information with. So, for instance, if I choose to bring in my Flickr pictures to Lifestrea.ms I can decide which group I'd like to share them with.
The same goes for creating new content from your Lifestrea.ms dashboard. When you upload a picture, write a blog post, share an mp3 or a video you'll be asked which of these groups you'd like to share with, the default setting being "public".
One of the great strengths of Lifestrea.ms is its ability to both aggregate masses of information in one place, but also publish back to your various accounts.
Once you have an influx of information flowing into your lifestream, you can tweak and administer your feeds any time. Through the feed administration panel Lifestrea.ms makes it easy to edit or delete your feeds, import OPML files (export features promised soon), and search your feeds by tags or title.
Likewise, you can access your bookmarks and information on who you shared them with, when, how you tagged the websites your visited, and other information. Bookmarks can also be managed, edited and deleted at any time.
Your aggregated content appears in a "River of news" fashion, merged together in a flow of the latest updates, with the newest at the top of the page, descending down to the oldest.
Further to the commenting and sharing capabilities I discuss further below, you can also publish content right from the same dashboard you read it in. Using simple tabs you can access tools to:
While this doesn't allow you to instantly access all of the services in your Lifestrea.ms account, it does go a long way to letting you quickly cross-post and upload your media and text to numerous locations at once, while also aggregating the lot within Lifestrea.ms.
Lifestrea.ms has a frankly incredible list of services that it integrates with, and these are divided into several categories.
Read/Write services are those that you can both aggregate information from and publish information to from your Lifestrea.ms account. The services available here are:
Further to these read/write services you can also bring in protected information to track your own habits, read mail, and check up on profile visits using the following services:
Lifestrea.ms also features a significant number of public services - i.e. those available for all to see. You can use the following within your Lifestrea.ms account:
It doesn't take a genius to work out that this level of integration allows for some really diverse scenarios for day-to-day Lifestrea.ms use.
Being able to track online responses to your blog or business, get up to the minute classified and auction information on products you are trying to track down, staying on top of your appointments and travel plans, checking out the latest reviews in things you are interested in, and reading your mail all from one location strikes me as very useful, and that barely touches the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to these various virtual presences, you can also enter your real world address details into Lifestrea.ms and it will even find you on a custom map, which you could share with your clients, friends and so on.
In short, Lifestrea.ms does an amazing job of bringing together the fractured pieces of your online life, and gives you a great way of keeping an eye on both interesting updates and time-sensitive information when and as you need it.
Once you have a steady stream of content flowing into Lifestrea.ms you can interact with it in a number of ways.
Individual news items, photos, video clips etc. can be enlarged to give you further details, and you can also read comments left on them by other users.
Furthermore you can subscribe to the feed that the news items belongs to if it isn't already in your collection, add tags to help other users find it, forward the content to a friend, leave a comment and give it a Digg-style thumbs-up / thumbs-down vote.
In this sense Lifestrea.ms is not only very flexible and open in terms of the content that it gathers, but also a decidedly social experience. By allowing users to easily forward, comment and vote and tag the content they find, Lifestrea.ms encourages and facilitates the easy sharing of information between groups of people and individuals, making it an excellent collaboration tool.
If you make use of any a fraction of the services that Lifestrea.ms allows you to compile, you'll very quickly find yourself with a lot of information on your hands.
Thankfully Lifestrea.ms has decent search functionality that allows you to both filter the information you review, and search for new things that might be of interest to you in a number of ways.
Filtering can take the form of running a simple keyword search within your own lifestream, or else boning down on one of the privacy-based accounts created for you. As such, you can quickly switch between your professional, public and family profiles to find the information you need at any given point in time with a minimum of hassle.
If you have an extensive list of contacts you may also find the ability to search for people site-wide or from within your own contacts list a useful feature.
And if you want to find other liked-minded people, Lifestrea.ms lets you search for people based on their interests. This can be a great way of turning up new people that you can pool resources and share ideas with.
The first of these two additions to your browser allows you to either instantly bookmark the page you're visiting in Lifestrea.ms, and if you like to del.icio.us and other accounts at the same time.
The second lets you instantly subscribe to the current website feed in Lifestrea.ms. Both are very useful ways of quickly adding content to your lifestream as you browse the web and make for useful additions.
The geeks among you will be very happy to hear that open standards. This is in many ways key to the flexibility that Lifestrea.ms offers in terms of its aggregation, filtering, search and authoring capabilities.
In addition to RSS and OPML support Lifestrea.ms also makes great use of the OpenID standard, allowing you to sign on when you set up your account with an existing OpenID account, and creating several OpenID identities for your various profiles with Lifestrea.ms.
Add to that support of the XFN format for sharing information about online relationships, hCard, used for sharing contact details, and APML which gathers information on your where you direct your online attention (more on APML in my beginner's guide) and you have a service thoroughly committed to data portability.
This makes a lot of sense for a service such as Lifestrea.ms so dedicated to the aggregation and collation of various account across the web, but it's surprising how few online destinations make use of this arsenal of useful formats and standards to enhance their end-users' experience. Hats off to Lifestrea.ms to really packing in those capabilities.
Personally I have no issue with the current Lifestrea.ms interface, but some of the criticisms the service has received in early reviews have targeted this as an area for improvement.
I managed to get a sneak look at the forthcoming interface re-design in my conversation with Lifestrea.ms founder Thomas Huhn, and if it lives up to the mock-up he showed me, this really does look like a great improvement in terms of both aesthetics and usability.
I'll be looking forward to seeing this new interface rolled out in the coming months.
I've been genuinely impressed by what I've seen in the Lifestrea,ms private beta, and if the new interface lives up to its promise, things are only set to get better.
The one thing I'd like to see that isn't there at the moment is the ability to take my lifestrea.ms account out of my browser. As a Twitter addict, I'd be lost without the desktop clients Snitter and Twitterfic, and I know that I'm not alone.
A lot of users just aren't going to be 100% content with accessing their information from a permanently open browser window, and while repeat trips to Facebook do seem to be the order of the day, if Lifestrea.ms can pull off an Adobe AIR application (or something in teh same vane) that lets me access my account from my desktop, it will go from being an excellent service to an indispensable one.
With that said, I am already very much interested in making use of Lifestrea.ms further as a social media hub - but this would be the cherry on the cake.
Lifestrea.ms provide a very comprehensive solution for anyone looking to gather their various Internet accounts into one place, for catching up on the latest content or even publishing to the web.
Thanks to lifestrea.ms extensive coverage of these services and its use of several open standards, you can manage, monitor and add new content to these accounts without having to open fifteen tabs in your browser window.
The result is an impressive browser-based application that lets you search and read your RSS feeds and other social media content, and even upload videos, share mp3s, write blog posts and publish bookmarks all from one website, which is great news in my books.
Add to this lifestrea.ms use of the emerging APML standard, as covered in my previous beginner's guide here at Master New Media, and you also have a great way to get custom recommendations for content that might interest you as you browse.
While lifestrea.ms is in private beta at the moment, you are very welcome to apply for an invitation at the lifestrea.ms website to try it out for yourself.
In short Lifestrea.ms is a very powerful social media aggregation and authoring tool that looks a lot like the shape of things to come. As such it is well worth taking a look at, and keeping a close eye on in the coming months.
If you'd like to read more about Lifestrea.ms, you might want to check out the following links:
Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and entitled "Lifestreaming - Aggregate And Author All Your Social Media Content From One Place: Lifestrea.ms"
thanks for the this post
This really goes way beyond Tumblr, which is getting a lot of traction here in New York. Kudos to you and Masternewmedia for alerting us to this uber aggregator.