About two years ago I was hooked on the idea of building a social life stream application … I went so far as to email a few of the smart people I know, sharing diagrams, and video chatting with said smart people to see about building something. After I spent hours and hours drawing sketches and driving myself crazy I sort of gave up on the idea. My idea was to not only stream my stuff into one place, but to organize all my friends stuff based on the social network/online spaces they publish in. We’d all have accounts with our own stream in them, but could pull together everyone else in a nicely organized way. FriendFeed was close enough, so I gave up on building something.
That hasn’t stopped my intense interest in powerful aggregation and life streaming options. It is so important for so many things. We are all spreading our identity across several sites and having a place to assemble the meta identity seems as though it is still an emerging and powerful need. When you think about teaching the notion of powerful and well organized aggregation gets even more critical. Think of a class where all 350 students have blogs and are writing on a regular basis … now that we disaggregated the content management by moving outside the LMS/CMS, we need new ways to pull it all back together (sort of ironic). Here is another killer use for a solid life stream style application.
This past spring my colleague, Scott McDonald, and I used Pligg to aggregate all of our students’ posts into one place. It worked well, but Pligg was not ready for non-technical folks to administer. It has to be easy.
This morning I came across my next tool du jour … SweetCron. This life stream application is the first one I’ve come across that I would use to replace the front of my own site. It is a very slick open source solution that looks great and (so far) works really well. It needs work as it is a pre-one dot zero release, but it is still a breeze to use and great to look at. I took 15 minutes this morning to get it installed and to add a few of my feeds. The admin side is easy enough and with a few tweaks to the css, the end user version looks really nice as well. My own SweetCron powered page is sitting over on my colecamplese.com space.
I will be working to look at this more so we can understand the affordances, but right out of the gate I am impressed. On a professional level, what I am really looking for are several options that could be used for teaching and learning and for events. This seems so much more powerful than simply showing a Twitter stream at a conference — tags could be subscribed to from all over the web to really a paint a killer picture of what people are saying about an event. As a matter of fact, the TechCrunch 50 conference is using it. So for now, take a look and help me think about how this could be used within a teaching and learning context.