I have met quite a few new friends after writing my post on Lifestreaming and one of them was Olivier D. alias ze kat. I became intrigued with how he went about creating his Lifestream. So we started a dialog on IM about a new project he is working on which is to build a platform to allow people to create their own Lifestreams. I think this is a great idea since nobody has built a dedicated platform as of yet. Sure there is Tumblr, Suprglu, and Pageflakes. All of these sites can be used to create one, but none are really suited specifically for Lifestreaming.
So Olivier offered to create a Life-Line (Lifelog is his preferred term) page for me. I need to find out why he omitted a few of my feeds (Last.fm, Digg, Librarything), nonetheless, I was very excited to become a guinea pig for him. All he asked for was a small bio, my OPML file, a profile image, and to offer feedback. I was excited when I woke up today to find an IM from him with the url for my stream. So now that he has created my page it’s time for me to cough up my end of the bargain.
The first thing you notice is a very clean interface. The header provides the profile image, bio, and an RSS feed for the stream. Right below that is a tag cloud which is a nice touch. Missing on my page, but available on his stream, is a strip of avatars displaying recent readers from MyBlogLog. Now it gets interesting as he has provided a tabbed menu to filter the stream by type of subject matter. This is a great feature that allows followers to quickly jump to specific sections which I had mentioned would be a great feature that is lacking on other streams. Each tab also lists the number of items available. You can also choose whether you want to display summaries for each item. The last tab “About” provides details of all the feeds that make up the Lifestream.
Below the tabs is a small calendar that shows the current and previous month broken down by day on one line with an icon showing number of items available for that day above it. By mousing over the icon with number of items you get a popup block with a summary of the items for that day. Clicking on the icon will filter results for just that day. There are also filters for day, month, and year below the calendar. You then have the ability to allow for items you click on the either open up in a new window or tab within your browser. I couldn’t get either tab or window to work in Firefox and was only able to get it to open new windows in IE7 (finally some feedback).
Below the calendar the stream is displayed based on the tabbed filter selected. When viewing “All” each item is prefixed by the type of subject matter (tab) followed by the title and an icon allowing you to mark the item as read. If you are viewing with summaries and mark an item, it then collapses to just the headline and displays with a lighter font. A problem with this is that if you view without summaries (or clicking on an item marked as read) it requires 2 clicks to open the content. If items are displaying with titles only a mouseover provides full details and thumbnail image if available.
Overall I think most of the functionality is great. I think where it lacks a bit is in design. I would like to see some color coding done in the stream headlines either by stream type or individual feed. I also like the ability to prefix each item by a mini icon identifying the feed. I’m usually more of a minimalist but for some reason I enjoy these as quick identifiers in streams. Displaying the icons would also make for a nice legend in the “About” tab. The tag cloud is nice, but it doesn’t link the tags. A search box would be helpful as well.
All of the feedback I have given is specific to the user profile. Where I think things can get interesting is functionality that bridges users based on the content within their streams. I would not like to see this type of site mirror functionality of most social networking sites. I would rather like to see dynamic functionality generated by logic on the server based on the content of each user’s stream.
I look forward to following Olivier as he continues to work on his site Life2front over the next few months.