Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tools to manage your narratives

airtraff_0001 First, a link for the day: Air Traffic Worldwide (be sure to click for the high-def version of the video). This one-minute video shows the progress of air flights over a 24 hour period, superimposed on the progressing day/night terminator. For those who travel, it’s fascinating to watch how the tendrils of traffic reach out from continent to continent in anticipation of dawn, and how the national airspaces quiet at night. Even from an artistic viewpoint, it’s striking how the organic forms grow and merge.

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Facebook Life is a story. Increasingly, you can tell your personal narrative on the web with microblogging tools, and keep up with your friend’s activities by subscribing to their feeds. So, for example, I log into Facebook every few days and update my Status. While there, I read what my associates are doing on the displayed News Feed.

It’s actually become a nice way of keeping up: it’s better than a blog when I just need to write a sentence or two, and it’s a concise way to survey how everyone is doing.

The problem is that it’s all local to one environment.

As social network tools spread, most now have status lines and feed updates. The work involved in going to Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, and others to type in the same status and to catch up with different communities is wasted time. I’d like to have a way to aggregate all my feeds into a single stream, and to type my status in once and have it show up everywhere.

There isn’t a perfect solution yet, but there are two good free services to consider.

I like FriendFeed for aggregating my narrative. It collates changes that I make in blogs, photos, tweets, and other sources into a single news feed that others can subscribe to. 43 service sources are currently supported, and, although there is a Facebook plugin, it's not very functional. I've ended up piping unsupported feeds through indirect connections to supported services like Twitter. As FriendFeed continues to mature, this should improve. Maybe an RSS Aggregator can do something similar (I use NetVibes), but I like the simple display, UI, and comment / delete management tools that FriendFeed supplies.

I am experimenting with Ping.fm for distributing status updates and microblog messages to other sources. Ping.fm supports cross-messaging to 30 different services. You can select which service receives a posted message, and which part of a service to direct a message to (status or micro-blog). It supports picture posting and now a speech-to-text application: they are actively expanding the service and it’s great for the simple job of doing cross-service updates.

It’s all another step forward towards being able to keep our dispersed communities active and connected.

2 comments:

A Touch of Dutch said...

Very cool info, Dave! Thanks for sharing this!

Dave Hampton said...

It's partial payment for all of the great recipies and tips I collect from you :)