Social Media

Bring the Noise: Filter Your Social Media Lifestreams

With so many ways online to tell people what you’re up to/ what you’ve done, lifestream filtering is becoming a popular way to package all those personal-feed items. A lifestream is an aggregation of your social media feeds. A lifestream filter helps you to filter out the noise and create a custom stream of information. For example, you might want one lifestream that shows your Twitter tweets, your images and what you’re listening to on Last.fm. Then you might want a separate stream that just shows your blog posts from multiple sites and any YouTube videos you’ve created.

Lifestream Filtering in Dipity Timeline

There are a growing number of tools for lifestream filtering out there, but I like to see a visual representation of information whenever possible. After reading Markus Merz’s take on the Dipity Timeline web service, I signed up for an account (free).

Dipity makes it very easy to your  filter your personal lifestream feeds. While you are signing up for your account, you’re presented with an easy-to-use form for entering a variety of social media details (usernames, email addresses, profile links, RSS feed URLs, etc.). At present, this is what you have to choose from:

  1. Picasa
  2. Twitter
  3. Pandora
  4. WordPress
  5. Last.fm
  6. Flickr
  7. Yelp
  8. Blogger
  9. YouTube
  10. miscellaneous RSS feed

(Note: you get these same options any time you create a new timeline and want to add feeds.)

A lot of popular social media sites are not in the list. However, you can use option #10 repeatedly, after the initial lifestream timeline is built, to add your other social media feeds. The result is a handy timeline representation of your aggregated lifestream items:

You can remove feeds or add feeds by using the “Manage Feeds” option on your personal lifestream timeline page.  (You only get one of these, but you can use your Dipity account to build other lifestreams as regular Dipity Timelines with their own URLs.) You can view your lifestream in Timeline, List View, Flipbook or Map View modes. (The latter requires tagging stream items with geographical information – i.e., geocoding.)

Since Dipity Timeline lets you mix events and feeds, you can produce some very interesting lifestream timelines. For example, you could have one lifestream that contains your Twitter tweets and supplement those items with images or video “events”. So if you Twitter about movies and film, you can add an “I’ve just seen Iron Man” event, then include a poster image and video clip. The resulting is a custom lifestream timeline.

Have a go at Dipity and you’ll at least have a bit of fun. (There’s a developer API, if you want to get serious.) I had trouble adding my Last.fm and Flickr feeds, though. And the resulting timeline is really creaky while redrawing when switching duration view. (That is, if you change fom viewing your timeline over “1 year” to, say, “3 months”, some of the items do not redraw right away. So you might see an expanse of nothing for several seconds. Be patient and the items will pop up.)

Curriculum Vitae Timelines

It occurred to me there’s a special type of “lifestream” that might need to be interactive: your C.V. – Curriculum Vitae (aka “resume”). If your body of work (articles, podcasts, vodcasts, screencasts, etc.) is available online, a timeline might be a handy way to present it all. Since Dipity allows you to mix RSS feed items with manually-added events, you can always add details about jobs you’ve held, etc. The only thing Dipity doesn’t do – that I’ve seen – is allow “duration” information like SIMILE Timeline does. So you don’t “see” when one job ended and another started. Still, for those of you that freelance, this could be an excellent interactive way to present your CV to potential clients.

Groupstreams

Why build lifestreams for just one person? Dipity allows you to assign editors, so you can create “groupstreams” too. This could be for a group of friends, or for a team of employees. Here’s the process:

  1. A group “manager” builds a timeline that includes Twitter feeds for all group members.
  2. Each member is added as an editor.
  3. Each member adds new events as desired. You can add images, video clips, description, a location, and a link to each event. The link, when clicked, opens a new window. So you could link to all kinds of web applications – including a live video feed, an online meeting room, Campfire, mind mapping, etc.

Since you can add future-dated items, groupstreams could be used to show schedules for a virtual team, plan get togethers and much more. (Note: future-dated events will not show before the actual date to anyone except Dipity members that have editing access to the timeline.)

Summary

Dipity does have a developer API, but its REST-based approach is very different than SIMILE Timeline’s interface. Of course, you can use either tool for more than just lifestreams. If you want to learn more about lifestreams and lifestreaming, visit Lifestream Blog.

Have fun, and enjoy this “Bring the Noise” video of Anthrax and Public Enemy. Flavor Flaaaav!

Author: Raj Dash

2 thoughts on “Bring the Noise: Filter Your Social Media Lifestreams

  1. Markus: There is a REST-based API, and if I ever find a bit of time, I’ll explore it. I have the feeling that it’ll be easier to tweak than SIMILE Timeline’s interface. This could be an excellent way to quickly build tutorial/ teaching sites for educators and others.

  2. I have the feeling from the dipity.com support forum that they really try to make the timelines a very valuable tool. I also think that we are only seeing the very basic features possible as more and more users jump on the timeline train.

    The nail you hit with the ‘Curriculum Vitae Timelines’ is really something to consider for i.e. ‘About Me’ pages. And the group feature you mention is great for all team activities. So every organization where members have a website can ‘autofill’ a timeline.

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