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Are Weblogs an Incarnation of Lifestreams?

2 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Dec 1, 2004 10:53 AM by Eric Freeman

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Eric Freeman

Posts: 30
Nickname: erictfree
Registered: Apr, 2003

Are Weblogs an Incarnation of Lifestreams? (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Nov 29, 2004 11:35 PM
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Summary
An interesting (old) post in Artima's Java Buzz titled "Are Weblogs an Incarnation of Lifestreams?" by Hugo Pinto asks if Weblogs are the first widely-adopted incarnation of LifeStreams? As it happens I'm finishing up a historical piece on Lifestreams that is going to be published by MIT Press and I've been asking myself that very question.
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Someone pointed me to an interesting (old) post in Artima's Java Buzz titled Are Weblogs an Incarnation of Lifestreams? by Hugo Pinto. In it Hugo comments that "it struck me that the very concept of time-based information storage/publication/retrieval is just what we do while blogging. Mr. Gellernter, I believe Weblogs may just become the first widely-adopted incarnation of your so beloved LifeStreams."

As it happens I'm finishing up a historical piece on Lifestreams that is going to be published by MIT Press in an upcoming book on "going beyond the desktop metaphor" and I've been asking myself that very question. Of course, at some level a Weblog is just an online diary, however it is also certainly true that there were aspects of Lifestreams that would arguably qualify as the first web log. In fact, in about '96 we had a full fledged web-based lifestreams up and running that was serving more or less as a blog for The TAP Project at Yale. If we'd only been smart enough to call them weblogs the rest would be history. ;)

To the larger point, certainly Weblogs would qualify as a subset of the Lifestreams system. Lifestreams use a weblog-like data structure to store your electronic life as it unfolds and combines that with a couple powerful operations that allow you to manage, filter, track your electronic life. It also extends the time metaphor into the future, so that you can post information to the future part of your weblog as a natural reminding function.

In doing a little research for the chapter, I came across something David and I wrote in about 1995:

The stream is organized by time because it is intended to function as an electronic diary; Its not just a file cabinet for information, it tracks your daily experience as it unfolds. Such a record is inherently useful which is why people keep journals or diaries or used to.
If nothing else, it's good to see we have renewed interest in personal diaries. ;)


Berco Beute

Posts: 72
Nickname: berco
Registered: Jan, 2002

Time metaphor reconsidered Posted: Dec 1, 2004 7:42 AM
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I seriously doubt that a time methaphor is useful for navigating information (and services for that matter). The fact that you generate/access information chronologically doesn't mean that humans can easily navigate that information based on time. I for instance can only remember of a few documents when I worked on them (except for the latest I worked on). I think there are better metaphors for navigating information spaces, for instance a geography based (spatial) metaphore. Then of course the problem becomes how to store information using the latter metaphor, but that's a different story.

Having said that I must say I still think David Gelernter hit the nail on his head with his future vision in 'Mirrorworlds'. Anybody interested in the future of information spaces is obliged to read it.

Cheers,
Berco

Eric Freeman

Posts: 30
Nickname: erictfree
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Time metaphor reconsidered Posted: Dec 1, 2004 10:53 AM
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Hi Berco,

Lifestreams doesn't limit you to time, nor is it a metaphor. If interested you might want to look at the literature a bit.

Also, note that Lifestreams are based on Chronical Streams, one of the base data structures of David's Mirror Worlds. ;)

Best,

Eric

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