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A ivityStreams

  Chris Messina      •    South by Southwest      •     Austin, TX    •     March 13, 2010


From Facebook...
@chris.messina
                      buzz.google.com/chrismessina


                            @chrismessina
            ...
Other coordinates — where you might know me from...
i’ve been involved in several communities and efforts online... microf...
Other coordinates — where you might know me from...
i’ve been involved in several communities and efforts online... microf...
but I NOW work for Google, the Don’t Be Evil ...[click]
...Empire
No really, it’s not that bad. And in fact, there’s a great deal of good that Google is doing.
[click]
efforts like the Data Liberation Front are leading the way in making sure that, as Google
grows, you always have a choice ...
“GENERATIVE STRUCTURES”




                                                                                University of ...
...like the ones that Jonathan Zittrain wrote about in his book “The End of the Internet (and
how to stop it)”. And the de...
And so ActivityStreams is the latest effort that I’ve worked on that will hopefully build upon
what’s come before — and le...
THIS IS YOUR ACTIVITY STREAM
AND IT’S ENDING ONE SECOND
AT A TIME...




...but, let’s talk about activitystreams. What do...
surely you’re familiar with the facebook newsfeed.

well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. it represents the data that ...
huh?

well, let’s go back to 1999 for a glimse at an early activitystream — before they even knew
this would someday be po...
that augmented reality view is of ed norton’s purchase stream — an activity stream in its own
right.

and you know what th...
that augmented reality view is of ed norton’s purchase stream — an activity stream in its own
right.

and you know what th...
that’s right — paper.
so here’s how he bought this stuff. you all know what this is.

yes, a synthetic form of identity that happens to be conne...
so here’s how he bought this stuff. you all know what this is.

yes, a synthetic form of identity that happens to be conne...
you go to whole foods, do some shopping.
whip out the card... boom, another set of activities lodged in your payment lifestream.
whip out the card... boom, another set of activities lodged in your payment lifestream.
the problem is this....

when you go to retrieve that data in order to do something useful with it (like visualizing your
...
you can’t. or at least it’s not all that easy.

maybe you’ll get a bunch of PDFs.
which makes it very hard FOR US to do anything interesting with all data.

as it happens, this is exactly where we are tod...
which is why this kind of newsfeed seems to be the current “state of the art”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FEEDS




But, in order to understand where we’re going with the work that we’re doing now, you need
to...
1999




RSS 0.9 was introduced in 1999 by Netscape as a content-gathering mechanism for My
Netscape Network (MNN) back wh...
so, you’d have someone like the NYTimes wanting to grow their online audience...
...and they’d use RSS to get their content into the Netscape portal.
Copyright 2000 ZWave, LLC




...and they’d use RSS to get their content into the Netscape portal.
RSS
       <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
       <rss version="2.0">
         <channel>
            <item>
       ...
RSS




                    title + link + description




the only mandatory fields in RSS are title, link, and descriptio...
2005




this in 2005, a group of people got together to create a “better specified” syndication format
called Atom.
ATOM
      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      <feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">
        <entry>
       ...
ATOM




                      title + link + summary +
                       author + id + updated




so, in five years,...
even still, this format was really still designed for the case of syndicating ARTICLES into
PORTALS.
Copyright 2000 ZWave, LLC


even still, this format was really still designed for the case of syndicating ARTICLES into
PO...
2010
so, you take an article like this, turn it into RSS or ATOM...
so, you take an article like this, turn it into RSS or ATOM...
and the most interesting thing the browser can do for you is turn this rich and well designed
page into something like thi...
and the most interesting thing the browser can do for you is turn this rich and well designed
page into something like thi...
and now you know why the newsfeed looks like it does.

spot the similarity?
and now you know why the newsfeed looks like it does.

spot the similarity?
and yet we know that people are performing more and more activities online.

and yet, regardless of its type, sites only p...
so no matter what, to sites like Friendfeed, Facebook, or Google Buzz, all these activities all
look the same.
icons by Fast Icon


so how do you differentiate all these different feeds when you only have one basic format?
it’s like we’re back in the bank statement PDF hell!

isn’t it time we had a format as rich as people’s social activities ...
THE FRIENDFEED PROBLEM




this is what I’ve called “The Friendfeed Problem” — but quickly this is becoming EVERYONE’s
pro...
well, FriendFeed let you add something like 58 services to your profile, basically using RSS.

pretty sweet, right?
well, it was, until they got acquired and stopped maintaining the service.
how do I know they stopped maintaining the service? Well, check it out.
these are the services that no longer exist, and y...
how do I know they stopped maintaining the service? Well, check it out.
these are the services that no longer exist, and y...
Foursquare?


                                                                          Gowalla?


                       ...
Logo collage by Stabilo Boss


This kind of approach just doesn’t scale over time because we know that most startups fail....
Logo collage by Meg Pickard


here’s what would have been left as May 2009. all that work for nothing. why waste your
time?
THE SOLUTION?
A UNIVERSAL FORMAT




the solution?
a universal format for [social] activities
Hence activitystreams.

But before I get into that, let’s take a few steps back.
HEAVY THOUGHTS




let’s talk about some big ideas.
first we’re going to turn to the soviets for something called activity theory.
ACTIVITY THEORY
Tools




                    Subject                                 Object          Outcome




                        ...
Mediating Artefacts




                    Subject                               Goal          Outcome




       Rules  ...
Mediating Artefacts


                                                              Sense

                   Subject     ...
Mediating Artefacts




                     Subject                                   Goal          Outcome




      Rul...
so, for example, if you’re designing a new app for the first time, think about how you can
manipulate the roles, rules, and...
so, for example, if you’re designing a new app for the first time, think about how you can
manipulate the roles, rules, and...
SOCIAL OBJECTS




indeed, building on that subject, let’s touch upon another big idea: social objects.
PEOPLE DON’T JUST
CONNECT TO EACH OTHER.
THEY CONNECT THROUGH A
SHARED OBJECT.
JYRI ENGESTRÖM




Following in his father’...
A nice example of this idea is Katamari Damacy, a game where you control a character that
goes around collecting stuff by ...
rating, add to playlist, favorite, share, copy the URL, flag, play, comment, reply by video

adding value to objects that a...
add notes, tags, comments, favorite, add to galleries, add contact, interact with other
members...

but here’s a twist to ...
Mediating Artefacts




                    Subject                     Goal   Outcome




      Rules                    ...
Mediating Artefacts




                   Subject                               Goal         Outcome




      Rules     ...
Mediating Artefacts




                    Subject                                 Goal          Outcome




      Rules ...
and on Flickr, I can set the rules of engagement, making it possible for me to personalize my
experience, and focus on int...
LIFESTREAMS




lifestreams. What is a lifestream you might ask?
Well, it’s not actually a newsfeed.

It’s something a bit more ephemeral... [click]
MIRROR WORLDS (1991)




and comes to us from David Gelernter, a Professor of Computer Science at Yale
In 1991, he wrote M...
THE SECOND COMING —
A MANIFESTO (2000)

                                  Streams of Time




In June 2000, he published T...
THE SECOND COMING —
A MANIFESTO (2000)

                            38        A "lifestream" organizes information not as ...
THE SECOND COMING —
A MANIFESTO (2000)

                            39        A lifestream is a sequence of all kinds of
 ...
THE SECOND COMING —
A MANIFESTO (2000)

                            40        A stream flows because time flows, and the
 ...
DONNIE DARKO?




                                                                        Found at BeyondHollywood.com

th...
THE SECOND COMING —
A MANIFESTO (2000)

                            40        A stream flows because time flows, and the
 ...
So these lifestreams start to accrue and build up value over time.
SNACK-SIZED SOCIALITY
MICROCONTENT GOODNESS




                                                                                 Jyri Engeström,...
so historically, we go from longform content...
where authors made money based on the LENGTH of their manuscripts...
$


so historically, we go from longform content...
where authors made money based on the LENGTH of their manuscripts...
March 12, 2010, 4:38 PM

               When Will Location-Based Mobile
               Coupons Take Off?
               By...
When Will Location-Based Mobile
                Coupons Take Off? http://nyti.ms/aYXUWY
                March 12, 2010, 4:...
Jyri Engeström, 2009


as we have more and more information on the go, the form by which we experience it
invariably much ...
as we have more and more information on the go, the form by which we experience it
invariably much change... but what is l...
how does this change our relationship to information — and our understanding of each other
— when this information becomes...
SXSW.CLIQSET.COM




for example, just because we have all this information, is it in a form that we can use, and
that hel...
“      I can see a world where eventually my children will look back at
       my Foursquare data and say: ‘This is Kevin’...
SO WHAT?




these activity networks — fueld by activity data — can help increase understanding, and
improve decision maki...
CRUMLISH & MALONE

                When status updates first emerged in the context of instant
                messenger pr...
SELF-IMPROVEMENT
FELTRON ANNUAL REPORT
FELTRON ANNUAL REPORT
FELTRON ANNUAL REPORT
FELTRON ANNUAL REPORT
LAST HISTORY
TUFTE + OBAMA
this is great to see obama tap someone like tufte to come in and help explain the stimulus,
but what if all ...
y’know, so we can finally leave the era of the PDF-era activity stream behind!
y’know, so we can finally leave the era of the PDF-era activity stream behind!
THE SOLUTION TO DATA
OVERLOAD IS MORE DATA
THE SOLUTION TO DATA
OVERLOAD IS MORE METADATA
Hence activitystreams.
actor verb object target




the basic model of ActivityStreams follows the “actor verb object”, “target”archetype.
WHAT’S THE CODE LOOK LIKE?
ATOM
       <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
       <feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">
         <entry>
    ...
ATOM




                      title + link + summary +
                       author + id + updated




remember that the...
ATOM+ACTIVITYSTREAMS




                   title + link + summary +
                     author + id + updated
          ...
ATOM+ACTIVITYSTREAMS
   <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
   <feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:activity...
ATOM+ACTIVITYSTREAMS
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
                                              xmlns:activi...
ATOM+ACTIVITYSTREAMS
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:activi...
VERBS &
OBJECTS




and to begin with, we already support a dozen verbs and several well-known objects.
VERBS &                             Add Friend                   Article

OBJECTS                             Favorite
   ...
VERBS &                             Add Friend                   Article

OBJECTS                             Favorite
   ...
PROCESS




and the process for extending the core schema? well’s it’s pretty simple... and based on the
microformats proc...
PROCESS

                                     1. Ask why.




and the process for extending the core schema? well’s it’s p...
PROCESS

                                     1. Ask why.

                                     2. Do your homework




an...
PROCESS

                                     1. Ask why.

                                     2. Do your homework

     ...
PROCESS

                                     1. Ask why.

                                     2. Do your homework

     ...
PROCESS

                                     1. Ask why.

                                     2. Do your homework

     ...
http://activitystrea.ms




to learn more, this is where it all happens.

so, what does and activitystream-formatted feed ...
CHRIS FINISHED HIS TALK.
AT SXSW IN AUSTIN, TX AT 10:30AM.
THANKS




monica, rob, mart atkins, dave recordon, steve ivy, james walker, todd barnard, darren
bounds, john mcrea, john...
ONE MORE THING
ActivityStreams Meetup

Sunday, March 14
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Austin City Limits Studio
2504 Whitis Avenue
Austin, TX 78712

...
THE FRIENDFEED PROBLEM this is
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Veröffentlicht am

THE FRIENDFEED PROBLEM




this is what I’ve called “The Friendfeed Problem” — but quickly this is becoming EVERYONE’s
problem.

how many of you have heard of or know about friendfeed?

Veröffentlicht in: Technologie
  • Njce! Thanks for sharing.
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  • Thanks Chris -- that makes perfect sense actually!! So it would be possible to propose a new object-type called 'query' (and possibly a corresponding 'response')? Given a multitude of community Q&A sites, I think this could be a neat way to support distributed query creation (vs. current centralized or destination-based query creation).

    Regardless, this is a lot of fodder for thought. Will check out the mailing list for more.
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  • Good question, Nitya.

    I think it depends — generally speaking, any time something new is created in a digital environment, you can use the 'post' verb — and change the object type... i.e. 'Chris posted a new question'.

    If you have a specific use case where a more specific verb is useful, you could specify multiple verbs ('post' and 'ask') but I haven't seen too many people doing that just yet.

    In general, it's desirable to reuse from the existing schema to promote interoperability.
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  • Very cool concept and a very self-explanatory presentation of the same. The simplicity of defining an activity (actor verb object-type target) is compelling.

    Would be interested in understanding the process for recommending new verbs for adoption - in particular, does something like 'ask' constitute a valid verb (indicative of the fact that the target object is a query) or would it be overloading the equivalent of 'post' (indicative of the fact that the target object is a note or comment).
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  • good
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