Can your brain really handle all that activity stream junk?
Seems like you can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting someone that’s got an activity stream built into their app, or their app is a an aggregator of activity streams. Not surprising. Twitter is enormously popular. People looove to read those tweets. This is affecting how other consumer products look at their activity UIs.
But is there, perhaps, going to be a backlash to the total information awareness wrought by having to read all these streams? Some thoughts:
Facebook rolled out its new design recently, basically making the homepage much more Twitter-like. Result: Everyone seems to hate it. I know that I personally am much more aggressively “hide”ing people in Facebook that I don’t care about (and that is, frankly, most of my connections) because I just can’t deal with all the overload.
Friendfeed, which is kind of an uber-aggregator of activity feeds from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. etc., has rolled out an interesting new UI at http://beta.friendfeed.com. This thing will actually show LIVE updates of your friends’ activity feeds, and, if you’ve got enough friends, will get going so fast you can’t keep up with it. They had to add a “pause” button!
Finally, consider how recently even CNN cleaned up the “UI” of their TV broadcast, removing all that constant ticker junk. They think that people are getting tired of it.
Jeremiah Owyang has a quick, nice piece on how UI needs to do a better job of helping users sort the activity stream in a way that makes sense to them. Sure, definitely, but harder to do than to say. Check Jeremiah’s thoughts here.
So hey, here’s a contrarian thought: Are activity streams just another goddamn email inbox? And when they get choked with too much data, will we just stagger like zombies to some new UI/service that seems like The Solution but is actually desirable merely because it’s not clogged with crap yet?
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