The term lifestream was coined by Eric Freeman and David Gelernter at Yale University in the mid-1990s to describe "...a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create and every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream. The tail of your stream contains documents from the past (starting with your electronic birth certificate). Moving away from the tail and toward the present, your stream contains more recent documents --- papers in progress or new electronic mail; other documents (pictures, correspondence, bills, movies, voice mail, software) are stored in between. Moving beyond the present and into the future, the stream contains documents you will need: reminders, calendar items, to-do lists."
Lifestreams are also referred to as social activity streams or social streams.
On the web
Social network aggregators adapt Freeman and Gelernter's original concept to address the vast flows of personal information and exchange created by social network services such as MySpace or Facebook ("Web companies large and small are embracing this stream" of providing lifestreaming.) Other online applications have emerged to facilitate a user's lifestream. Posterous offered a variety of unique features to enhance its basic blogging function. Tumblr is a similar concept, but with slightly different features.
- Digital traces
- Federated identity
- Activity stream
- The Final Cut (2004 film), a movie about ethical challenges related to lifestreams and editing them
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