Digital Lifestyle Aggregators…for a fee?
Posted by direwolff on January 12, 2005
There's a fine line between being considered a visionary or a madman, and yesterday a madman became a visionary…again! The funny thing is that only one thing to affect his status was…my perception.
Marc Canter, has been espousing for a while now the idea of Digital Lifestyle Aggregator (DLA). One of his arguments has been that given how much people have migrated many of the functions of their life into the electronic medium (the Internet), the need arises to be able to manage these disparate sources of functionality and content. For example, even lay people are now using the photo services offered by Ofoto and Shutterfly, iTunes and iPods have become the craze and this is being accelerated by entries from Real and Microsoft, blogging is also catching on with close to 10M people now reading these and growing, free web-based e-mail services from Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, and others are common place (even those who have other e-mail addresses, also have one of these), Evite has become a common way to invite people to parties, online calendars from Yahoo! are also being rampantly used. So what is this telling us…that lots of stuff is going on online, and not just for the digirati, but for every one. DLAs are about helping people manage all of this.
However, it gets more interesting as you follow the growth happening both in the blogosphere and in services like those offered by the company I work for, Tribe Networks. People enjoy being part of a community and enjoy easily communicating and staying in touch with their community. Whether that community was formed online or whether it was already in existence off-line and was brought online to facilitate more frequent interactions.
So a couple of noteworthy items, RSS is really delivering beyond its promise. For example, from Tribe one can do something called TribeCasting and push out to a blog with the list of what communities one participates in (see my Tribes on the right column of this page) with links leading back to those. Listings and friends' lists can also be TribeCast. All of a sudden, the Tribe experience can be used as a means to provide people outside Tribe with a context for who I am and the things I like and do. Finally, the discussions that take place in Tribes can be pushed out and read using any blog reader. One of our engineers has created a Tribe that he treats as a blog (briatribe). There are certain limitations to this use, but it was never conceived as a blogging tool, which gives you a sense of just how powerful this really is.
Now, Canter doesn't stop at the thought of merging these concepts, he goes well beyond this and begins to explain how all components of my digital lifestyle should syndicatable or better yet, any one should be able to subscribe to any one or to any part of any one. So imagine that I'm a voracious music discoverer, always finding that new up and coming group, well perhaps some of my friends want to begin subscribing to my playlists. They don't necessarily want to actively link to my page each day to figure out what's changed, but rather want a place they can go where they track my lists as well as those of other friends, perhaps track a few blogs of deep interest, perhaps keep track of a museum's schedule, maybe even find out when there's a sale at REI, and definitely keep up with your nieces and nephews latest pictures. Even more, perhaps they want to cross post a request to several places (ie. their blog, various discussion forums, and out to their friends).
Well, this is where the idea of the DLA really takes shape. It's the control center for all of this. While I don't like the term control center per se because of the monolithic feel in conjures in my mind, it's the idea of having a tool that helps manage all of these interactions in a meaningful and contextualized way. It's also a destination, that with the appropriate privacy controls, can be set-up to display information about oneself tailored to the audience visiting. For example, provide prospective employers access to my resume but not a view into the communities I participate in, allow my mother to see some of my latest pictures kitesurfing but perhaps not those of me snowboarding off of 50 foot cliff. Perhaps even creating a public personna, and keeping my private info and friends list behind protected areas. Anyway, all of this and more would be possible through the concept of a DLA.
With this said, the madman has become a visionary and now I need to stop my rambling and put some assemblage to what this all means from a business perspective ;-)