If you haven't yet noticed, there's a new nav item at the
top bottom of this page, entitled 'LifeStream | Me, Online'. This LifeStream basically aggregates my various activities and actions across the various social media sites I frequent. Such sites include Delicious, Twitter, Last.FM, Flickr, ColourLovers, this blog, and more.
For a while I looked for the ultimate method of doing my own LifeStream, and was spurred on when I saw (and subsequently tried to emulate) Darren Hoyt's fantastic version in his newest Wordpress theme 'Agregado'. I also checked out (and built on) Yahoo Pipes, thanks to James Whittakers great post on how he built his LifeStream using Yahoo Pipes and a little magic.
Of course I looked at various other ways, but none really offered what I wanted (to be fair at that point I didn't really know what I wanted). One of the many I checked out included Yong Fook's SweetCron. SweetCron is a server-based LifeStream tool that is an awful lot like Wordpress: it's powered by PHP, has a similar set-up and architecture, and comes with a nice user interface that, once you've done the coding & dirty work, makes it a breeze to manage and add new feeds.
SweetCron comes with 2 pre-packaged themes: Sandbox and Boxy. Sandbox is the basic list view of social feed items, similar to Agregado's (just not as nice or AJAX-y) but Boxy is great. Seeing as SweetCron is very similar to Wordpress, if you know Wordpress you can easily customize a theme for your lifestream after getting some basics down. The version you see in my own LifeStream owes a lot to Yong Fook's original. It didn't hurt that I've always loved this style of site structure, so I of course jumped at the chance to try my own version using Yong Fook's as a template.
Safe to say, I eventually stuck with SweetCron. It represents what I needed for my LifeStream:
- Simple management of feeds via a nice user interface
- Easy-to-use/code backend (still getting used to it, but if you know Wordpress PHP, you'll know SweetCron
- Ability to host on a dedicated subdomain (http://lifestream.carbongraffiti.com). Sure I could have made my own page with any other method, but an install of SweetCron on a new subdomain just seems cleaner, nicer, smarter.
- A place that aggregates all of my activity in one place. Many offered this, but I think SweetCron just got my personal preference.
However, for what it's worth, SweetCron isn't without it's faults. The interface is nice, it does the job, but it falls slightly flat once you realize it's not nearly as powerful as let's say Wordpress'. This ties in with my one and only recommendation for SweetCron 2.0:
SweetCron 2.0 needs the ability to create (in the backend) a one-time, flexible template for feeds similar to Wordpress' index file, allowing you to create a new feed on the fly from within the interface *without* having to get stuck into the code again.
My example is that if I find a new great social media site, the addition of that new site into my SweetCron feed isn't going to be... shall we say 'a breeze'. Add to that recommendation the use of a library of images for all new and/or future social site feeds, and someone could add any new feed at any time without the need for coding.
Once SweetCron gets this functionality up and running, it'll be a fantastic tool for aggregating your social life into once easy-to-read, easy to manage area. For the time being I'm more than happy with it, and I hope the adoption rates of SweetCron as people's lifestreaming tool of choice continues.
Some interesting links to SweetCron-related material include:
- SweetCron Themes, a site (soon to be) dedicated to publishing quality SweetCron themes for download and use. I'm still deliberating on whether to include mine, but I don't think it's up to scratch!
- TechCrunch's TC50 Aggregator used SweetCron to great effect to aggregate all social media coverage on their recent TechCrunch50 event. Unfortunately they failed to credit Yong Fook for his work until after the fact...
- A basic tut by NETTUTS on how to build your own SweetCron site
- A very SweetCron-inspired site by GM, plus a video presentation by Yong Fook entitled 'Teh Blog are Dead'
- If you need to know how to install SweetCron on your local (EasyPHP) server, I've already posted about it.
As of July 2010, I've redesigned my lifestream, focusing on keeping it very basic and optimising for mobile devices. I'll be making both themes (old and new) available for download very soon, on the Goodies page.