Tag Archives: SixApart

Live Blogging from the Activity Streams Meetup

Up in San Francisco for another open spec community gathering, this one focused on working toward standardization of “activity streams,” the flow of user-generated content which is the lifeblood of the emerging Social Web. This Activity Streams Meetup is being hosted at Six Apart, with David Recordon guiding the event. As Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr tweeted, we hope this all leads to “more structured metadata in feeds”.

As usual, I’ll sprinkle in a mix of photos and observations, but not attempt to take anything approaching full notes. In addition to Six Apart, there are folks here or from Facebook, MySpace, Google, Yahoo, Plaxo, among others. That means there’s representation for projects that span DiSo, OpenSocial, Open Stack, Facebook Connect, Y!OS, MySpaceID, among others. Sweet!

Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo has a nice post describing the problem we need to solve, entitled, Representing Rich Media and Social Network Activities in RSS/Atom Feeds. Also recommend this post from Chris Messina, Where we’re going with Activity Streams. And for more background, here’s Chris Messina’s talk on Activity Streams at the pre-holiday Open Stack Meetup:

And now, some photos of the Activity Stream Meetup:

Activity Streams Meetup

Activity Streams Meetup

Activity Streams Meetup

Activity Streams Meetup

Lots of good discussion, trying to get everyone on the same page about the problem we’re trying to solve and what we can hope to accomplish today. As people are sharing all sorts of stuff from a rapidly growing list of services (examples just for photos: Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, etc.). Every social network is either a webwide lifestream aggregator today (early examples: Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed), or are becoming one quickly (examples: Facebook and MySpace). And every aggregator faces the same set of challenges that arise from the chaos of there being no standard for how to format the feed of user-shared content. No common convention for naming of objects or verbs. This is the classic problem space for the Open Stack of OpenID, OAuth, XRD, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial.

Great to see the active participation from Luke Shepard from Facebook, who just shared some of the problems of complexity they experienced by having too much flexibility in the verb space. I think he just said “combinatorial explosion” to describe it.

Cool, just noticed that Ian Kennedy is live streaming the event via his mobile phone and Kyte. So now you can watch it so you don’t miss anything!

Chris Messina takes to the white board:

Activity Stream Meetup

Activity Streams Meetup

David Recordon of SixApart, who is running the Meetup, with Joseph Smarr:

Activity Streams Meetup

Okay, now we’re about to go over a draft spec… Martin Atkins of Six Apart is now going over at high-level a review of a draft spec.

Activity Streams Meetup

Activity Streams Meetup

Now, Monica Keller of MySpace is jumping in, showing an alternative proposal and getting lots of feedback.

Discussion of reviving Media RSS vs. starting with Atom Media.

David Recordon is showing a demo of a Six Apart implementation done against the current draft spec in answer to a question from Joseph Smarr about how firm the draft feels, and whether we have any good insights from early implementations. It’s a demo of an API which transforms existing Atom and RSS feeds from sites like Flickr, Twitter, Digg, and blogs into new feeds (which can also be aggregated together) that include markup from the draft Activity Streams specifications being discussed. Along with the work from MySpace, this constitutes one of the first two implementations of the draft specification.

What a great working session! We’re two-and-a-half hours in an still going strong. Good discussion now about the importance (and complexities) of handing “friending” events, whether those are bi-directional or “follows”. Some differing thoughts here from the DiSo folks vs. the big social networks. Good sharing of insights from Facebook and Plaxo.

Activity Streams Meetup

It’s after 6:00, and we’re wrapping up. Great session. Great participation from sites large and small and from folks just looking out for the open Social Web at large.

UPDATE: Check out Marshall Kirkpatrick’s excellent piece on the event on ReadWriteWeb (which also was syndicated to the New York Times) and Marc Canter’s thoughtful post, DiSo Activity Stream Standard.

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A Big Bang for the Social Web

It’s certainly a big week, what with the Hadron Collider finally coming on line, raising existential risk questions for the planet, as physicists attempt to recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang that gave birth to our universe. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, developers are attempting to give birth to a truly open Social Web, by stitching together for the first time the open spec building blocks: OpenID, XRDS-Simple, OAuth, and PortableContacts.

You can participate yourself at the PortableContacts Hackathon this evening, hosted by SixApart. Or you can get the quick overview in this video podcast I did with Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr.

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Four-Month Update on How I Use Social Media


Back in April, inspired by a post from Louis Gray, My Social Media Consumption Workflow, I wrote a piece, entitled Evolution of My Social Media Interactions, which sought to capture a snapshot of the set of services I was using then for interacting with social media. It was already clear then that I would need to revisit this subject from time-to-time:

Okay, enough for now. Who knows how I’ll be using all this stuff next month, or which new tool will get added to my kit?

Back in April, I focused on “how I start my day” and talked about:

I fire up the browser, and open up a series of tabs: my blog, Techmeme, Twitter search engine Summize, Plaxo Pulse, Twitter.

What’s changed since then? A few things. First of all, I have far less of a notion of “starting my day” with social media. Back then, I think I was viewing this a bit like a substitute for the morning paper. Sure, I checked on things throughout the day, but not obsessively. Now, I’ve gone from a morning dip into the social media pool to swimming in it morning, noon, and night.

That said, what sites get tab real estate in my browser is still an important indicator of where my social media consumption is heading. My current lineup is Plaxo Pulse (reminder/disclosure: I work for Plaxo), FriendFeed, Summize (which is now Twitter search; set to the query “plaxo”), Twitter, and Techmeme.

Truth be told, I’m using Twitter less and FriendFeed more. (FriendFeed got a mention in my post in April, but had not yet risen to “tab status.”) FriendFeed and Twitter Search help me as a marketer know what is on the minds of an influential demographic of early adopters. There are many folks I follow directly there — and many, many more I encounter based on searches. And, of course, this sort of social discovery provides opportunities for me to jump in to either start a conversation or contribute to one already going.

One question that I am often asked is, “How do you use FriendFeed and Plaxo? Why both?” That’s actually really easy. I use FriendFeed to track and engage in public discourse, and I use Plaxo Pulse to share content and conversations privately with my family, my friends, and my coworkers, and to stay better connected with my extended business network.

On the production side, I am mindful that many bloggers are struggling to find the time to keep producing good long-form content in a 140-character attention span world. I, too, am not immune, and I find that my posting frequency here has dropped since April considerably. That said, I find that Plaxo and FriendFeed are *both* becoming good drivers of readership.

Perhaps the biggest change in my engagement with social media is my jump into video. Together with Joseph Smarr and David Recordon, I’ve launched an Internet TV show called The Social Web TV. We’ve launched using Viddler for hosting and streaming the video, and the blog is on TypePad from SixApart. It is really invigorating to tackle the challenge of producing a great show every week. (Shout out to Gary Vaynerchuk and Robert Scoble who inspired me to take the leap.)

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Toward Data Portability: SixApart’s BlogIt

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Caption: David Recordon (left) and Joseph Smarr (right) at the Social Graph Foo Camp

Recently, Joseph Smarr and I were invited by David Recordon of SixApart to take a look at something they were about to launch, called BlogIt. We got very excited and had lots of ideas about where they and we (Plaxo) could go together with this. It just launched, so I can now talk openly about it.

BlogIt is a very cool tool that embraces one of the foundational notions of the open Social Web: that once someone gets into using one social application, they will quite naturally begin to use multiple social applications, whether that’s social networks, blogs, microblogs, content aggregators, or whatever. The natural consequence of that is fragmentation, which, in the current “walled garden” phase of the Web, creates all sorts of hassles, inconvenience, and missed opportunity for richer interaction.

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb is right, I think, to say that BlogIt “could be the start of something big.” At the core, BlogIt makes it easy to quickly create and publish a blogpost from within a social network or application, and have the post go to multiple destinations and get promoted from multiple sources (for example, Twitter). The first implemenation targets the Facebook platform, but obviously this can go to other networks, such as MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo Pulse, etc. via the Google-led OpenSocial platform.

What I like about it, is that we are still in the early phases of social media, social networking, and the opening up of the social web. Social networks and content aggregators can be a great way to mainstream the social media experience, and help millions of voices that are not currently heard jump into the world of blogging. How? By making it really easy to post — and to have a pre-existing audience — in the form of the local social graph(s) of the user.

David’s done a nice post, helping explain where this all fits in and where SixApart might go with this. Brad King, of TechWorldNews, also has a nice piece that puts this into a broader perspective. (I enjoyed my interview with him earlier today greatly!)

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