Open Activity Streams

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Dion Hinchcliffe:

"The central artifact of social media has become the activity stream, whether this is the familiar Facebook news feed, Twitter stream, or the classical reverse chronological list of blog entries or wiki modifications. The problem is that there are too many streams to interact with these days and they are too distributed to perceive and interact with directly. They also come in many different types from syndication formats like RSS and Atom to custom API streams. End users don’t care about the technical details anyway, so there has been some interesting work on standards for social activity streams and activity stream aggregation. The standard to watch is activity which has already been adopted by Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live, and Opera and many others with Google and Yahoo! close behind. Some are likening this to when different phone systems or e-mail providers allowed their respective populations to communicate with each other.

Once standards are put in place by providers (and release officially in their tools and platforms), activity streams can be more easily accessed for both browsing and posting using well defined APIs, thereby directly enabling unified 3rd party experiences across different social channels. Activity stream aggregators like Friendfeed or social dashboards such as Tweetdeck can then offer a single social front-end that holds the promise to reduce the friction of using today’s proliferating channels of social media. This could also address some of the disconnect between older and newer social media platforms I outlined above. The bad news? Standardizing activity streams might not create a unified experience across popular social networking application formats such as those between Facebook apps and OpenSocial. In other words, social media data flow will likely be open and standardized soon, but not the social applications themselves, keeping the walled gardens up between social apps for the time being. For now, smart consumers and businesses will insist on open activity streams in 2010." (

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Activity Streams