Drinking of the Lifestream

The blogosphere is undergoing a shift toward lifestreaming. The efficiency and clarity of lifestreaming offers an alternative and a complement to blogging that enables time-strapped internet content creators and enthusiasts a better way to display, distribute and champion the content that matters to them. It’s a game-changer that also hints at the increasingly seamless way the internet is part of every aspect of our lives.

2008 has been a year of transitioning to lifestreaming for me. An increasingly time-strapped life has left me less time to devote to blogging, but my drive to share content with friends and strangers hasn’t relented. Lifestreaming has allowed me to point out more content and share more pieces of my life than I could have if I focused on longer pieces. I still love and appreciate blogging —I read dozens of blogs each day—, but lifestreaming is the future of how we share on the internet.

One of the clearest signs that ‘streaming is becoming a mainstream force on the internet is the inclusion of rudimentary lifestreaming on Facebook and other social networking sites. We are coming to value quick shots from the attention of the people we care about and respect; a photo of a great meal, pieces of political discourse and a fascinating news article do provide real benefits in how we connect with others and how we experience the world. Even with the inevitable filler that comes from the speed of ‘streaming, the data we create is going to reshape our interaction with the internet.

Lifestreaming heralds the next leap for the internet, the semantic web, by associating our important data with our online identities. This association enables data to be used to understand our lives, our interests and our social world. Marry this with emergent trends of location-aware software, cloud computing, and the still-rising tide of social networking, and you have a perfect storm of practical, sophisticated and exciting internet tools that will make our experience of the internet seamless within our lives.

Even President Obama will face a different online world during his time in office; Obama, his staff and the public will create and reflect on an endless stream of content and attention.

Posting its own version of events is a way for the Obama team to gain some control over the chaos and messaging in the midst of the incessant Obama lifestreaming that will occur over the next four or eight years. The disciplined, focused, and modulated Obama has already had a lot of practice on a big stage. Now the spotlight is all on him. Every gesture and word from Obama accessible to the public will be recorded and posted online, from a multitude of sources and points of views. His lifestream will be endlessly scrutinized and measured for meaning.

For the most powerful among us and through to the casual ‘streamer, the way we interact with the internet is going to change profoundly.

The future will be astound, but what does lifestreaming give to us today and why commit to it? Without lifestreaming, out identities online are diffuse and not accessible, but merging our strands of activity across the internet into a ‘stream provides a solution.

“We are all spreading our identity across several sites and having a place to assemble the meta identity seems as though it is still an emerging and powerful need,” said blogger Cole Camplese.
– “‘Lifestreaming’ Organizes Web Lives

Lea Woodward asserts that it is an enjoyable compulsion to share content and participate in the communities that spring up around lifestreaming. ‘Streaming can also enhance pre-existing relationships that would otherwise be under strain from lack of contact in an environment of increasing stress on social life; Facebook’s lifestreaming aspect alone has allowed me to maintain relationships that otherwise may have waned.

C4Chaos, an integrally-informed and awesome (hyper)streamer and blogger, takes issue with the term lifestreaming but offers some great insight in his posts “Swallowed my blog in a single gulp!” and “Life is But a Stream“.

Lifestreaming is a buzzword nowadays. Services like Friendfeed and Socialthing make it easy to aggregate trails of our online activities. However, we don’t actually stream our “life.” What we stream are snippets of our awareness–our personal and social experiences, and any story on the internet that grabs our attention. We share our awareness with our unique self-expression in our quest to build psychic capital online. So I think a more accurate description is awareness streaming, or consciousness streaming. But those terms are not as cool as lifestreaming. So I’ll just call it (hyper)streaming, where “hyper” can be any aspect of our consciousness that we stream.

So, if ‘streaming is about consciousness, does refining either one’s consciousness or one’s ‘stream influence the other in positive ways? This line of questioning is where I think lifestreaming or (hyper)streaming becomes the most valuable. Assessing what we choose to include in ‘streams, what we filter and why we do any of it, when done in a contemplative and open manner, will improve the quality of our lives.

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