Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Marking activity feeds as read

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Here at MIX I just listened to a panel discussion called “Standards for aggregating activity feeds and social aggregation services” involving Luke Shephard (from Facebook), Monica Keller (MySpace), John McCrea (Plaxo), Kevin Marks (Google), Marc Canter (Broadband Mechanics) and chaired by Dare Obasanjo (Microsoft). Whilst listening in I had an idea that I put forward to the panel that seemed to be received fairly well so figured I would air it here and see if it got any feedback.

It strikes me that the rise and rise of social networking services (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter); some of which also do social aggregation (e.g. FriendFeed, Windows Live); have created a problem where the activity of myself and my friends gets broadcast via and to all of these disparate services and we’re left floundering in a sea of repetitiveness where I log into one service (e.g. FriendFeed) and see almost exactly the same activity that I saw a few minutes ago in a different service (e.g. Windows Live). Nobody invented that bad user experience, its just a consequence of of the plethora of services that we all frequent and share our activity with.

There is a way to solve this problem. The activity feeds that are broadcasted by all of these various services are currently all one-way. In other words, you can consume the data in these activity feeds but you can’t send any information back to say “I’ve already read this” and that is what I’d like to see changed. There is no technical reason why (for example) Friendfeed can’t send a message back to Twitter saying “Jamie read some particular Twitter status on FriendFeed at 13:30” and that information then gets included in the Twitter activity feed.

Once that information is freely available in the Twitter activity feed then another client (e.g. Windows Live or TweetDeck) could use it to provide a better user experience, for example giving the user the option to only see statuses that haven’t already been read.

There was mention during the panel discussion that standards are currently in the process of getting defined for activity feeds and Luke Shephard suggested I get involved with various standards bodies and moot this idea in those circles but err… well… thinking about this stuff aint my day job I’m afraid so I don’t really have time nor the reputation to make this happen (unlike the panellists). What can I say though…watch this space. If there was a way I could be involved in such a discussion then I’d love for that to happen.


Written by Jamiet

March 20, 2009 at 12:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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