- 31 Mar 08, 11:18 GMT
Over the weekend blogger and businessman Loic Le Meur started an interesting conversation about social media and the decentralised way in which personal information was being spread.
He drew a handy map to show the different threads of his digital life.
Loic, who I spoke to a few months ago, is arguing that while all these tools have their place, it's hard currently to locate them centrally in one place. There are tools emerging, such as Friendfeed, which pull together these strands but it is still quite difficult to assemble your digital life in one place.
I know exactly what he means - tools like Flickr, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, BlipTV (the list goes on and on and on) are great ways to start conversations but they remain, more or less, as digital islands.
There are ways to bridge these islands - and using RSS is the obvious candidate. Almost every social media service today generates an RSS feed and tools like Friendfeed can pull them all together.
You can see my FriendFeed here. It's an amalgam of my posts to Twitter, my Flickr photos and posts to the dot.life blog. If I wanted I could add YouTube videos I have posted or favourited, my Delicious links, music I've listened to on Last.fm etc.
And your feed, together with the feeds of your friends, combines into one meta-Friend Feed, which itself is an RSS feed. So I can follow the lives of my friends, through whatever RSS feeds they themselves have aggregated onto Friendfeed, into an RSS Reader. Phew!!
It means the minute by minute lives of others can be monitored minute by minute whenever you are online.
You can do something similar by combining Twitter with a tool called Twitterfeed. It turns almost every RSS feed into a tweet. So every new story on the BBC News Tech section, or posting to this blog, or photo I post to Flickr is turned into a tweet on Twitter.
Social media tools are giving us ever more power to document our lives in ever more granular forms. And there are tools emerging that pull these micro-aspects of our lives together.
Loic bemoans the inability to site this cataloguing of his life in one place - ie his blog. I don't think this will be too much of an issue for too long as the creators of Friendfeed are about to release an API, which should see the tool becoming more flexible.
But I don't think this is the real issue. For me it is about the layers of openness we want our lives to have and how to control who sees our information and where.
RSS is a great tool but it has one declamatory mode. I want to be able to choose who sees different aspects of my digital life in one meta-destination.
For example: I want a tool like Friendfeed to let me control who can see my Twitter feed, who can view my Flickr photos, who can watch my YouTube videos etc.
What's needed is a more sophisticated public/private system for our digital lives. There are plenty of aspects of my life I'm happy to share with the world but some things that should be reserved for friends, family, work colleagues etc.
At the moment I have to resort to one-to-one tools like e-mail or instant messaging to share more private aspects of my life.
But wouldn't it be great if we could use Twitter or Facebook or Friendfeed etc to target different aspects of our lifes to different people?
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