There has been a lot of talk lately about the changing face of the blogging landscape. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger asked if blogging has lost its relational focus; Scoble explained why tech blogging has failed you; and even though not everyone agreed with his every statement, there was a renewed commitment in the blogosphere to return to blogging about what excites instead of just writing about “Apple’s newest gizmo or the peccadillos of tech personalities.” However, we’re wondering if people even need to blog anymore…at least in the traditional sense.
Once the main way to publish your own personal thoughts and opinions for the rest of the web to read, blogging started a movement that democratized the web. Everyone could be a publisher. But now, blogging as everyone’s preferred method of communication may be over. What’s taking its place? Lifestreaming. And don’t be fooled into thinking that we’re talking just about FriendFeed here – lifestreaming as a format for communication extends beyond just that one social site to encompass an entirely new way to establish your home on today’s social web.
Lifestreaming is a new way of documenting the activities surrounding your life using a chronologically-ordered collection of information. Bloggers like Julia Allison, whose internet activities and real-world attention-grabbing stunts made her “internet famous,” has used the format to rocket herself into stardom. That stardom even made her the subject of a recent Wired magazine article on the subject of self-promotion. Her method of communication? The lifestream, of course. Her blog is no more than a short collection of photos, videos, copy-and-pasted emails, random thoughts, links, and general over-sharing. The site even scrolls horizontally instead of vertically which makes it seem much more like a timeline than just another blog.
Julia Allison’s Site
The simplicity of a lifestream is ideal for our information overloaded age. Lifestreams are short and sweet, yet still provide the same insight into a person’s life as yesterday’s casual personal blog did. A video here, a photo there, and today’s web citizens can voyeuristically peer into anyone’s life and get a sense of who they are. Long-form bloggers, on the other hand (myself included) require time and attention to read, but with so many publishers out there, people just aren’t reading content like they used to – they’re just scanning text and moving on. For new bloggers, this means getting readers is harder than ever – your words are getting lost in a sea of noise. So to stand out, several are turning to the lifestream instead in order to get noticed.
The New Blog
But the Julia Allison method is only one option for lifestreaming. Over the weekend, I stumbled across this blog, if you can even call it that. This was no ordinary blog – it was a lifestream based on the social aggregation service, FriendFeed. Take a look:
The New Blog (Click To See It Larger)
What’s amazing about this site is that the elements of traditional blogging are mirrored here. Instead of posts, there’s a stream. Instead of “Recent Comments,” there are the “Recent Discussions.” And instead of an “About Me” page, there’s a link to the blogger’s Facebook profile. Could this be the future of blogging? For active social participants, the above site could certainly be the ideal blog as it highlights their participation instead of their thoughts and opinions.
But even though FriendFeed might be the easiest way to add a lifestream to your site (or turn your blog into a lifestream), it’s certainly not the only way. The Lifestream Blog keeps track of the many different ways that web site owners are self-hosting their own lifestreams. You can check out the galleries of these sites both here and here.
How You Can Stream Your Life
So, how are people doing this? There are several ways, but many people today are using custom code on their sites in order to produce the lifestream. However, if you already have a WordPress blog, you can set up a custom lifestream within WordPress with relative ease. In fact, there are a couple of options to do so:
We also told you about the much-anticipated Sweetcron, brand-new automated lifestreaming software for self-hosting your own stream.
Unfortunately, the developer has still yet to release the software, despite having originally promised a June release. These continued delays leave the door wide open for another developer to release their own software and capture the early adopter lifestreaming market. (Do you know of any others in development? Let us know!)
Lifestreaming Is The Always On Blog
There was a time when casual, personal blogging was your way to communicate with your friends on the web. Via posts, commenting, and blogrolls, bloggers formed niche communities on the web to socialize with each other. Today, new tools provide that same level of socialization – perhaps even better than blogging ever could. Via micro-blogging sites like Twitter, every quick thought or link can be shared with your community of followers and you can see theirs, too. You can join and exit the never-ending conversation at your leisure. Plus, other social sites like FriendFeed provide today’s new discussion boards where conversation occurs surrounding the items posted and shared, leading to even more of a community feel, and one that’s drawing more users every day.
Sites and social tools like these and many others encourage more participation on the social web than ever before. Although the social participants on these sites are often more active in socializing than they are in blogging, there’s still that need to stake out your own piece of real estate on the web. But we wonder: does that really need to be a blog anymore? Perhaps not.
Blogging Newspaper image courtesy of Annie Mole