Lifestreaming: Is the era of live-tweeting over?

June 30th, 2009

Live-tweeting is so 2009.

At your newsroom or company, you’re probably either the one being pressured — or doing the pressuring — to start getting social. Right?

You may start by creating a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter stream. But something is missing. Facebook may seem like great place to promote what you’re doing, and Twitter is an easy way to interact with your customers in real time, but neither are as visceral as you’d like.

Farewell, status updates. Hello, lifestream.

Most of the information we consume in this new media age is either presented in a traditional format (e.g. a newspaper Web site or blog) or a mishmash of data points (a la Twitter, the Wild West). If you think of a lifestream as a linear, time-based scrapbook, you’ll see the benefits of lifestreaming immediately. It’s a completely new way of gathering, documenting and syndicating information.

If you want to document what’s going on with your organization, if you really want to aggregate and present your content in a slightly more formal way, document your conversations and other relevant Web content, perhaps a lifestream is the way to go.

This isn’t to say status updates will disappear completely. The live-tweet is not completely useless. But just think: If you’re at a conference, for instance, you might post some things to the lifestream and still have tweets as well for just short missives. There’s a good chance you won’t want every one-liner posted to the lifestream.

However, if you want to compile several photos in one place, or post an audio or video clip in a more formal location, publishing it to a lifestream may be easier; your content can then be automatically posted on your social network(s) of choice.

For instance, I recently posted this group of mobile photos on my Posterous blog. Not only was I able to e-mail the photos straight from my phone to the page, but Posterous arranged them into a gallery…and then the photos were automatically compiled into this Facebook photo album.

A lifestream is, among other things, more of a real mobile blog than Twitter ever could be. With both Posterous and Tumblr, you can post photos and text via e-mail or SMS. (Note: Here’s a great comparison of the two services. Mashable did another comparison here.)

Imagine if your news organization presented its news in a blog format. Now imagine if the blog could be completed by reporters on the scene, who post instant photo galleries, sound clips and video. You could get a much better look at a particular topic, product or event, and you could easily trace the arc of a that particular topic, product or event.

For instance, if you have a crew of reporters at Austin City Limits, you could enable your reporters to post on the blog, but you could enable select citizen journalists to create posts that would appear alongside yours.

For agency folks, perhaps a lifestream would be a much better PR tool than a Twitter account, which would primarily be used for customer service and engagement.

Pretty cool, huh? For lifestreaming, we think the possibilities are endless.


Have you or your news organization/company ventured into lifestreaming services like Tumblr or Posterous? If so, please post a link to the page! Would be interested to learn about your experiences.

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Entry Filed under: lifestreaming

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  • Ben LaMothe

    I'm don't agree really. Live-tweeting is far too new a concept to go the way of the Dodo. Most don't really even know how to do it well. I do think lifestreaming is useful; however for events that don't warrant a lifestream, a live-tweet would suffice. It becomes an editorial decision, in a way: Would this event be better served by a columnist/reporter/etc live-tweeting the event? Then there's the fact that a live-tweet and a lifestream aren't even the same thing. They serve different purposes and often involve different styles of coverage.

  • dan360man

    I agree. Lifestreaming is much more robust. If you were going to plan your coverage, what would make something a good candidate for one vs. the other? Is it just a question of resources?

  • JasonFalls

    I'm experimenting with Posterous, but only as a personal thing. Twitter, Flickr and Facebook are it. I don't know that I'd use it for a client yet, but I'm sure I will at some point.

    The problem with LifeStreaming is that it either includes too much or fractions your audiences into different places, making it too much to manage. If I post all my information on Posterous and simply have it dump to the other platforms, I'm being disingenuous to those platforms.

    While comment unification systems like BackType and Disqus's Reactions do a good job of pulling in those conversations, they aren't perfect yet. I'm not even sure if Posterous allows use of them as plugins.

    It has merit as a mechanism, but I haven't yet found the right reason to use it. Will let you know.

  • Stephanie

    I think this is a great idea. I only wish I could implement it without having to jump through fifty hoops to get it approved by the higher ups who only want to know how it can make money right away.

  • Joe Schmitt

    I don't think this is an either/or situation. For news organizations, I think they need to consider how each medium is perceived. I think a reporter tweeting from the scene (or sending a TwitPic) is considered to be unedited and it's understood they will file a story after they confirm and clarify details; but if they post pictures and 200 words to Tumblr, then I think people will expect it to be confirmed and such. To me that's the difference between Joe Whats-his-name at the Sun-Times tweeting from the Sox game and writing his column that night. Lifestreams like Tumblr aren't perceived as being immediate like Twitter is, at least not yet.

  • Kevin Sablan

    Thanks for another great post! My comment here became so long, I ended up just posting it on my blog: Lifestreaming: Why not a storystreaming platform?.

  • Scott Kleinberg

    What an excellent question this is. In a day and age where what's popular is only popular for 15 minutes before the next great thing, I don't think we're there just yet.

    I think there's room for both. For me at the work level, Posterous is a little too close to what we are doing on our Web site. However, that didn't stop me from securing the name for my site because you just never know.

    On a personal level, I love the idea of everything at one place. There will always be those certain people that only like what they like – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. But there are others that LOVE everything in one place and that's what's cool about this. And the fact that the site “magically” turns photos and videos and audio into something easy to use doesn't hurt.

    But all good points.

    Ben is right in that live-tweeting is too new. Some day, sure it may go away, but I for one know that my audience loves livetweeting. So much so that we have a separate account on Twitter called @redeyelivetweet for that very purpose. We have more than 1,000 subscribers and more come along every day. I give the keys to @redeyelivetweet to people for special projects. Currently, we have a reader/blogger/freelancer covering all of Chicago's summer fests – all 50 major ones. She has the keys and does the live tweeting and interacts with people at the fests. The phenomenon of livetweeting is still considered cool.

    And Jason is also right because it's hard to separate what belongs in a lifestream when it's not your personal. Something that one person thinks belongs doesn't and then another person wants to know why it's not there.

    And to Stephanie's point, I know this doesn't work at every paper, but I don't tell any of the higher ups about anything I do with social media. I do it and then tell them. That way, it's harder for them to pull the plug because they can actually see it's working. When you present it as an idea without the necessary information regarding profitability, etc., you stand the chance of resistance. My way, there's no resistance – I just build the community and later look for the ways to make it work.

    Has that blown up in my face? You bet. But I feel like it's the way to go. Again, that won't work everywhere … just sharing my experience.

  • Daniel

    "Any piece of information can become a story."

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    I think it comes down to two things: storytelling and resources. Is a story or event big enough to warrant multiple reporters? Is there compelling multimedia content?

    I wish there were more news organizations and corporations experimenting with lifestreams.

    This comment was originally posted on Almighty Link

  • Lindsay M. Allen

    I definitely think that the lifestream is likely “the next big thing,” especially in certain contexts, but I don't know that live tweeting is dead/dying.

    The biggest hurdle to the lifestream being a realistic threat to Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc. is the likelihood (or lack thereof) of a quick adoption rate. While you and I are part of the group that is comfortable with the tools, tactics and strategies associated with social media use for business AND personal purposes, the reality is that so many people are *just* beginning to get aboard the social media train, finally realizing that they need to be integrating SM into their personal lives and/or into their respective organizations. We can't expect these folks to be ready to embrace and use a tool that essentially combines all of the tools and technologies of which they've long been scared (and, most likely, are *still* scared of … but they feel like they have to start using them or risk irrelevance).

    I definitely see the value of a lifestream as a replacement for certain Web sites. At my most recent job, we used MovableType for our Web newsroom. Getting any content other than text posted on there required additional “techie” legwork (including the need for storage space for videos [which we never had, mostly due to these technical issues] and other large files, embeddable media players, special coding for photos, etc.) that would have been unnecessary if something like Posterous were being used … so I definitely see the value. I just think it will be awhile before it fully catches on.

    In the meantime, though, I'll be tinkering around with a Posterous account of my own. ☺

  • Stuartfoster

    Is it better then Twitter? Yep. Is it better then a destination site or blog format? Not yet. Although I would be amenable to some form of hybrid between the two. I'm definitely thinking about adding a lifestream component to The Lost Jacket. But it would be on a separate tab on my Nav menu…it wouldn't be on every page.

    For now? Cool. Later? Who knows.

  • Jessica Smith – JessicaKnows

    Hmmm. I don't think one could or should replace the other. With a lifestream you're talking to people…it's more one-way. Less conversational.

    With tweeting, you get that back and forth and it's an open forum. You're not required to point an audience there because the platform IS the audience. With lifestreaming, you have actually get people to go there.

    Kind of like that whole idea: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it did it happen?”

    My fear would be getting a client to dip their toes in with lifestreaming and then defeat the whole purpose of educating them on what social media is all about in the first place.

    I think having a lifestream as an extension of another platform be it Facebook or Twitter is the best bet, maybe as the link in a Twitter profile. But replacing those? No way. Especially with B2C clients, it might be better suited for B2B though.

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  • becker

    I think a lot of the story-streaming features could be accomplished with relatively little effort — a sentence-long post here, a photo posted there, a document uploaded later. Most streams could be maintained by one reporter with the stream effects aggregating over time.

    Granted, that wouldn’t be real-time updating, but most stories aren’t going to have enough information to support real-time updating anyhow.

    This comment was originally posted on Almighty Link

  • Mindy McAdams

    I’m sitting on the sidelines for this one until I see whether it’s really just (a) a version of FriendFeed, or (b) a version of Instapundit, or (c) something different. If I’m getting somebody’s snippets at a rate of five to seven per day (what Steve Rubel suggests —, I think I would rather get them in the 140-character format of Twitter. Maybe I’ll stick some of these new lifestreams into my RSS reader, but right now I am not sold.

    Your storystreaming idea holds potential for certain kinds of stories, perhaps, but probably not most.

    Moreover, it seems too short on data organization. Tagging several items per day is likely to yield just a big old heap of undifferentiated stuff rather than a usable system for further investigation or background. I might be wrong. But I am skeptical about the utility in this.

    This comment was originally posted on Almighty Link

  • Joe Dawson

    I have never been a fan of live-tweeting, it's just a series of quotes with hashtags attached which add no relevance. Lifestreaming is the way forward, especially if text, images, audio and video are provided

  • simplehuman

    We're starting to use Posterous to make personal connections between our employees in the US and Taiwan. Because of it's speed (e-mail), flexibility (just attach videos, pictures, mp3s), and the fact that it's a one stop shop makes it a pretty fun multiple-user “lifestream”. Also, the integration will come in handy for when we want to customize it more.

  • Daniel

    Mindy – I believe there are different types of lifestreams. Some are more blog-like (e.g. Tumblr, Posterous) and some are more feed-like (e.g. FriendFeed, Facebook). The blog-like lifestreams are viable stand-alone entities, which is not to discount the feed experience, which may be more valuable for interaction.

    With lifestreaming, I don’t think it’s an either/or scenario. Lifestreams and socialstreams fit into each other.

    This comment was originally posted on Almighty Link

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  • David allows you to manually moderate user text and media – or automatically have the media (video, photos, live video, tweets etc.) displayed – in an Embeddable Flash Player. You can create News Streams for news stories, Event Streams for Events (hot day in Austin) LifeStreams for people, or Product Streams for brands and products and Topic Streams for emerging topics.

    A great tool for progressive online newspapers.

    This comment was originally posted on Almighty Link


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