Do you play on a number of different social networks, like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr? Do you like keeping those different worlds separate, or do you like to have them overlap? Have you experimented with bringing your different posts together in one place?

You can do that with services like About.me and Tumblr, and with tools like the Joomla or WordPress plugins. A number of people call this lifestreaming.

For my upcoming site re-design, I’m looking into a highly visual form of lifestreaming. I’d like users to see a collage of my online activity in the same order that it’s actually happening. As I’ve researched ideas for doing this, I’ve discovered that it’s an incredibly broad concept, and so highly personal, there are nearly as many ways to interpret it as there are people doing it. Mark Krynsky has been exploring the concept with a great deal of depth since March 2007 on his lifestreamblog, now my first go-to spot when I have questions about the subject.

What I love about lifestreaming is that you can paint a fuller picture of yourself, and you can experience a more-varied picture of people you meet online. I’m hoping it will take some of the pressure off me, in my attempts to keep my site lively, by showing some of what I hope is my more active and interesting online activity.

Very few people are only on one social site, and I suspect that, like me, each social web experience they explore brings out different aspects of who they are. That can feel schizophrenic to the folks who are posting content, and painfully compartmentalized to the explorer who is curious about a person or a business. Of course, a little schizophrenia and compartmentalizing are human, even healthy. We enjoy the freedom to show only parts of ourselves at work and in social situations, for starters.

In the meantime, I’m still batting around alternative names for my lifestream, such as:

  • Work and Play
  • Oeuvre (blech)
  • Anthology
  • Legacy (grrrrr)
  • Upshot? Neverending Upshot??

For a great visual overview of what this concept can do, take a look at Mark’s Lifestreamblog Gallery. I‘m not so thrilled with the approaches that separate each source into a different area on the page. My very favorite lifestream is Shimone Samuel’s—inactive as I write this, due to database issues, but here’s a screenshot from the Lifestreamblog Gallery page (with thanks to Mark Krynsky for use permission). The streams are actually still separate in his, but easy and enjoyable to take in as a whole.

Shimone Sameuel's Lifestream page

Gerald Deloff, one of my favorite Code Artists, is helping me get these (and some further) ideas going, if I’d only quit interrupting him with other projects. 🙂

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