Attention is finite

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.

I tried to write a comment on Steve’s blog about this but I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t equate to “no, you’re just years behind everyone else”.

Making a lifestream useful

A few months ago I slated Jeremy’s lifestream, because it’s a single point-per-person summary of activity – and in particular my own activity which I already know all about.

So, having spoken to Jeremy briefly at XTech, and assuming that I don’t have a proper digital lifestyle (or digital connections) aggreator, what can we do to make the lifestream interesting?

First of all we can start archiving your activities. A monthly archive as an Atom file will do to start with. You can then plug that in to any other Atom-supporting tool to get some visualisations of your data such as getting a timeline by plugging it into Simile Timeline using My Timelines.

Secondly we can index this for searching using Lucene or one of the many langauge ports like PyLucene or Ferret for Ruby so that you can search for items across time in a single location.

Thirdly we can provide a simple bit of PHP which glues files together from a set time period so we can get back an Atom file for a group of particular months or years.

Finally we can use the stored lifestream as an index for a scraper which can provide a local version of the full content of your activities. For example some people worry that Flickr has all their data – well, use this to monitor your Flickr and blog postings and pull them down and store them locally (or back them up to another location).

I might see if I can hack on some of this this week.

Digital Lifestyle Aggregation vs. Personal Aggregation

Following up on my Personal Aggregator (lifestream) dissing of the other day, here’s what I’d prefer to see (I should note that none of these ideas are original, and for most of my audience probably hark back to 2001):

Humans are interested in conversation. Conversation is what drives us. The things I want to see in a stream are places where I’ve previously entered into a conversation, either by starting a new conversation or by replying to someone else, and there have been responses which I’ve not yet read.

Some examples of this: comments on my blog posts, comments on blog posts which I’ve also commented on, comments on my Flickr photos, comments on Flickr photos which I’ve also commented on, emails, web pages marked as “for:pip” in, personal twitter messages (both direct messages and @pip), and so on.

After those items, I’m next interested in the conversations going on around me. That is to say, things that people I know are doing . This is where personal lifestreams can play a part – I’d want a feed from each person’s stream which I can then merge and create an contacts’ lifestream from. These activities also contain an inherent interest value. For example, blog posts and Flickr photos are almost always more interesting than twitter udpates which don’t really contain much value for me.

So let’s just review some of this, and see what we can do:

My Immediate Planet:

  • comments on my blog posts: gmail-created feed available
  • other blog comment replies: cocomment feed available
  • twitter @pip: no direct feed, can filter normal twitter feed
  • twitter inbox: no feed
  • flickr comments: feed available
  • flickr comment replies: feed available
  • for:pip in feed available

Friends’ Planet:

  • blogs: feed available
  • flickr contacts’ photos: feed available
  • network: feed available
  • twitter: feed available
  • tumblr: feed available
  • feed available
  • etc.

All of this is, of course, separate and additional to attention-data maintained resources.