Lifestrea.ms is a powerful new lifestreaming service from Germany that you'll want to keep an eye on. It is a real testimony to the potential of the new web that anyone would even try to create something like this company has. Currently in private beta, I hope the company will fix its usability issues and launch soon. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want on the list for an account.
Lifestreaming aggregates all your inbound and outbound activity online, see Tumblr or FriendFeed for other examples. For more on Lifestreaming check out our recent interview of David Karp, CEO of Tumblr, over at Read/WriteTalk.
If everything under the covers at Lifestrea.ms can be made as good as the front page of the site, then we'll be in great shape. That page alone is a marvel to witness. I've been on the other side of login, though, and don't want to go back until some things have changed.
An Open Aggregator, or Standards Based Nerve Center
Leveraging every open data standard and API I've ever heard of, Lifestrea.ms wants to serve as your dashboard for all your reading, writing and discovery online.
They've got OpenID, they've got APML, hCard, XFN, OPML - you name it. It ought to be an opportunity to make all of these protocols easy to use for everyday users. OAuth would make the service even more powerful but they say they've got some proprietary methods of interacting with other services too. If it sounds like alphabet soup over there, wait till you see the mess it serves up. Usability is a disaster, unfortunately.
How It Works
Identify yourself at registration and Lifestrea.ms will assemble a list of feeds it thinks may be of interest to you. You tell it which of the feeds are correct and your profile is built accordingly. This proccess could use some more thought put into it. Why offer me just the feed del.icio.us/rss/Marshall+Kirkpatrick, for example, when there are any number of other permutations of that URL that are more likely to be of interest? (Like rss/marshallkirkpatrick.)
Once you've got all kinds of inbound feeds coming into your dashboard, you can discover other content and contacts - essentially using the product like an RSS reader and social network rolled into one. Furthermore, you can publish from inside Lifestrea.ms to the 3 big microblogging platforms, WordPress, Upcoming.org, Facebook, YouTube and more. It automatically synchs with Del.icio.us and says OPML export is "coming soon."
As you carry out all this in-and-out with information, your APML profile is assembled and can be exported at any time. Soon you'll be able to take that profile back and forth between services like Lifestrea.ms and Bloglines, Newsgator, Magnolia and more for instannt recommendations when joining one platform based on your interests expressed on the others. See Michael Pick's intro to APML today for more on this standard.
Beyond usability, the other thing Lifestrea.ms needs is a desktop or Rich Internet Application client. Something in Adobe AIR would be great so it can be cross platform. If there's one thing I've learned from Twitter (and there's a lot of things, actually) it's that no web page interface is sticky enough to keep me interacting with a service all day long - I need a dedicated app that sits above the other apps I'm navigating through. If somehow we could combine the code freaks at Lifestrea.ms with the design of Tumblr and the interface/usability bliss of Snitter - that company could take over the world.
Lifestrea.ms is currently in private beta status but hopefully the team behind it will make it usable and ship it soon. The vision is awesome - but the implementation has some important work ahead of it before it's ready for the public.