Add Lifestreaming to Personal Narrative Trends

This entry is a bit of an addendum to my New Year’s Eve posting about 2008 as the year of personal narrative in which I agreed that 2008 was a starting point but predicted that personal narrative will just get bigger and bigger.

I talked about social media as part of the exploding world of personal narrative, but beyond social media is the need to aggregate various forms of one’s social-media participation into some sort of cohesive format. This type of aggregation has been dubbed “lifestreaming.”

On Wired, Michael Calore includes lifestreaming among 6 New Web Technologies of 2008 You Need to Use Now:

Sites like FriendFeed, Plaxo Pulse and Digsby serve as social-network-activity aggregators. They’re like virtual funnels. Dump in all the notifications, feeds and updates from your various networks, and the services will bring it all into one master stream, relieving you of the responsibility of visiting a dozen or more sites to learn what your friends are up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re snogging and so on. Controls let you dial back the flow by sorting and filtering the flow, pruning it down to only what matters most.

[“Snogging” was a new one on me; as near as I can make out, it’s a Brit term for making out.]

Lifestreaming is unquestionably a form of personal narrative. It doesn’t provide a complete picture of one’s personal narrative; often the beholder is left to try to fill in the blanks, connect the dots, and assemble puzzle pieces. But in many ways, this lack of comprehensiveness is part of the charm. The little bits of information and media serve almost as story prompts that enable the reader to construct his or her own story about the lifestreaming person. And you can always ask the lifestreamer to fill in details or explain cryptic status postings.

The perfect aggregator does not yet seem to have been developed. Calore likes FriendFeed (as do others I know), and he disdains Facebook. (“The network lets all sorts of data in, but precious little out,” Calore contends). Interestingly, though, Facebook is my preferred aggregator. I like FriendFeed and Plaxo Pulse, but not enough of my friends are on them to make them satisfying for me. Facebook is the social-media venue that I have the most friends on, so it works just fine for me as an aggregator. Facebook’s News Feed and Live Feed provide sufficient lifestreams for me to follow the personal narratives of people I can about.

[graphic: MasterNewMedia]