Hey guys, our blog can now be found at http://blog.streamy.com/. Please update any subscriptions, thanks!
Jonathan has created a blog dedicated to Streamy development, with interesting news and information related to technologies we use and contribute to. Head over to Streamy Development Blog to take a look. Some recent posts…
- HOWTO: Change replication factor of existing files in HDFS
- Chris Wensel of Cascading talks Hadoop with Sohrab Modi of Sun
- Hadoop and HBase Presentation
As we open up the new year, we will make new announcements regarding Streamy, its features, products, and, of course, the planned launch. Check in regularly for news.
Hey all, if you have ever created a Streamy account, your account still exists, and so does all of your information and activity. We are migrating those accounts now, and will send you a link to upgrade to the new Streamy. We have sent many of you emails already, so be sure to check for those.
As a follow up to the update on Monday, we made a new video demo to give you an overview of Streamy features. Check it out…
Features you see here include…
- Sharing / Chat
- Search / Filters
- Friends / Groups / Blogs
- Apps / Widgets / Updates
Notice that the apps she has installed also integrate into the action bubbles and status updates. This makes it easy to share stuff and post updates across services. This demo doesn’t go into details, so expect more detail-oriented videos soon.
Hey friends, it’s been a long time since we last reached out to you. We hope you haven’t forgotten about our promise. What we have been working on is building the finest newsreader available, and that requires a couple things, which have taken time. Let’s take a closer look at where we are now.
Think of your favorite blog, news site, or social network, and you’ll probably envision lists of stories that outline what’s happening and who’s reporting it. We call these streams, and there are an enormous number of them, all pumping away feeding the web more and more information.
How do you find the few gems that you care about? How do you know what your friends enjoyed today, so that you can have a conversation? How do you share the great stories you find with groups and pitch in your own opinions?
You may have found ways to share and discuss in the past, but there are new concepts that really improve the experience: context and personalization. The beginning of the web marked innovations in hypertext and commerce, which grew into communities and communication. Standing on those shoulders, through advances in technology and understanding, personal relevancy is at hand.
Streamy intends to make the web relevant to you. This isn’t just about news, or just about the little things that are going on among friends – it’s about, as a cohesive whole, what’s going on and why it matters to you.
This brings us to the core of Streamy: streams, subscriptions, conversations, and services. Streams, as mentioned, are the veins that channel content throughout the web, and we enable you to filter, mix and match them. Subscriptions are your connections to the sources of those streams – traditionally to news and magazines, then blogs, and now individual people and groups. Conversations are possibly the most exciting element of Streamy, because they take something the web was built for, communication, and weave it into the streams themselves, as comments, personal replies, shares, instant messages, and group chats. Services tie Streamy to the rest of the web. While most of our streams are fed by blogs and news sites, there are streams of news from your friends and groups elsewhere. These services, like Twitter, Facebook, and Digg, also allow you to share stuff you discover on Streamy with your friends everywhere.
Focusing on these pillars has allowed us to purify the technical challenges we have faced and respond by creating high quality proprietary systems. What this means to you, finally, is that the vapor is clearing and we can deliver what many of you have gotten excited about over the last year. You’ll hear from us again this week.
I’ve attached a screenshot of our Subscriptions app. Check it out
In the last several months, the Web community has engaged in a discussion regarding the portability of your personal data into and out of the services you use. While most of this conversation is productive and interesting, some have limited their vision to imports and exports. It may be affected by concerns over the retention of personal data, or concerns that a given service will become unavailable or turn evil or something nasty. Some people don’t want to be tied in to a specific service. Regardless of perception, the actual definition of portability is commonly disputed.
Those concerned with portability often use the term data to include relationships like friends, groups, subscriptions, and attention. However, relationship data may not be best served by “portability”, but by logical “queryability”. From our perspective, the user is served best to keep data in its natural habitat and process updates, additions, deletions, or modified rules. A fine example is the Social Graph API. In using Google’s crawlers and indexes, the API allows you to query friendships across your various public profiles using annotated hyperlinks in the markup. Services which support this API would allow you to easily find existing friends across the Web and connect to them on a new service. Rather than trying to move data, these approaches enable developers to perform queries and glean information for their users. In addition to advantages to users, this allows platforms to clearly define policies and, like it or not, be able to hold competitive advantages.
Freshness, Control and Context
There is good reason to prefer queries over exports: to have fresh data, to respect changes in the rules of ownership and control, and to leave raw data where it belongs – with the context in which it was generated. The need for updated information and activity is self-evident, but ownership, control and context are less clear. For example, blogger Robert Scoble, equipped with a tool developed by Plaxo, crawled and screen-scraped the profiles of his friends on Facebook. Facebook promptly disabled his account. Legal issues aside, and regardless of what was being done with the data, some argue that he cannot assume permission to move his friends’ contact information out of Facebook. Some argue that he has the right to export this information. The situation affirmed that companies like Facebook have control and have terms of service that are enforced. In an age when we give up personal data freely, it is important to be selective, careful, and leave data with those in whom we trust.
Queries also yield to context, which is significant. Social networking sites co-exist, and thousands of niche social networks spring up continuously. They serve different purposes, with different communities, and while there may be common data you’d like to have among them, you can imagine how much sense it makes to have your MySpace profile available to all your LinkedIn contacts. A great example is when Google Reader got snuggly with Google Talk. The Reader team directly imported your Talk contacts, considered them your friends, and subscribed you to their shared items in Google Reader. Talk contacts are associated with several contexts including friends, family and business, which may not be appropriate when blindly sharing stories. This made a good number of people uncomfortable – in most part due to confused contexts and a lack of control.
Moving forward, control and automation are paramount. In order to enable control and automation, new systems belong above the data to perform logical queries and implement policy. Data exports may be filtered at best, but do not appeal to the new needs of an intelligent, automated, distributed Web.
Updates, Synchronization and Automation
A significant factor driving portability is the notion of social network fatigue – the tiresome act of signing up for, entering information into, and managing a continuously growing sea of accounts on various Web sites and networks. Wouldn’t it be great to sign in to a new service, click a button, and have it be fully configured automatically? The intention of technologies like OpenID and OPML is to improve this by reducing friction and stickiness when moving between new services. Of course this isn’t a one shot deal, the information needs to stay fresh, and things like activity need to be updated. Currently the best way to distribute activity is via RSS feeds. However, the optimal state of the service-oriented Web is to support event-triggered updates across distributed networks and products, and we’ll talk more about this. It will entail a new form of publisher-subscriber framework, not dissimilar to the notion of blog pings, though it would cut the middleman out.
Regardless, a limited case where exportable relationships can work is to move social graph data into a personal address book. Of course this defeats our requirements of freshness, ownership and context. However, the address book export is just a list of names and addresses, and could be considered a single, portable object.
Portability and Objects
Real portability is reserved for objects and media, though this is where legal and international issues of privacy and copyright come into play. Portable photos, documents, videos and blog posts allow the authors and owners of those objects to move them among services. Your identity would classify as a portable object in this model. The standard example, however, is a photo service which allows a printing service access to a user’s photos and print them. A Streamy example is to drag and drop a Facebook event to add it to your Google calendar. Of course, changes to an object in one place should be reflected in another, which creates a freshness requirement that gets very complex very quickly.
The true object-oriented Web will free media and documents from the shackles of closed systems and clearly establish ownership and control. While DRM may not be the answer, protecting your rights as an author and artist will play a big part on the open Web. We’ll talk more about copyright, though there are technical problems to address before then including authentication and delegation using technologies like OAuth.
Visions of an Open Web
The DataPortability workgroup’s strongest voice, Chris Saad, noted among the DataPortability Design Principles that the mission ought to be less “fight the man” and more practical and useful goals. It will be interesting to see if the group’s finalized vision is limited to the import/export use cases, because these surely have the least potential. Otherwise, portability may not really matter to an average user, but the benefits to the user experience surely do, and I think selling DataPortability means selling the huge benefits of an efficient, distributed Web experience.
A larger vision of the group, while some question it, will hopefully guide services to standardize their data interfaces. After all, most innovation on the Web owes its success to interoperability. The group recently met to nail down their logistics and are working to outline their future. With Streamy, we’re forging ahead with what’s available to create interesting experiences for our users. We’d like to remove friction between services, consolidate your Web experience, and bring you news from the sources you care about. Forward-thinkers are creating innovative interfaces to your distributed data, and products are going to evolve quickly. Figuring out what portability means, what the best technologies are, and how this all looks from the user’s perspective are all pieces of a large puzzle that will strongly affect the future of the Web.
How do you feel about this? What, in your opinion, are the most critical aspects of the open Web?
The excitement and interest surrounding Streamy is incredible, and we’re excited to get you involved. A lot of people have been talking about our product, what it is, what it could be, why it will work, and why it won’t. In describing Streamy, one of the foremost comparisons that have been made is with Digg – the submit-and-vote social news site with a large, strong community.
Killing Digg is not our goal. Our goal is to bring you personally relevant news in an engaging, collaborative environment. That is not by any means mutually exclusive to a voting model.
Digg is a high-level social filter, and that’s part of Web 2.0. By social filter, I mean stories are deemed valuable when someone else interacts with them. While Streamy has a fantastic social filter – you can see what your friends are saving, sharing, and talking about – we aggregate many filters. Proof of this concept is the fact that you can read Digg RSS feeds on Streamy.com.
With that in mind, we do intend to kill the dry, boring RSS reader. I’m talking about the inbox-style RSS reader that is not intriguing, not social, and makes little or no attempt at personal relevance. We have created a system that aggregates syndicated content, channels it through your new and existing social networks, and creates a sum that is greater than its parts. Otherwise, as an aggregator, we do not replace tools – we mesh them into a new experience.
Descriptions of Streamy usually involve comparisons to several other websites. I can understand why – it’s easiest to think of something in terms of what you are familiar with, but it is misleading and daunting. We’re not just throwing things together that we think are cool. Really, you’d be surprised to find out how many features we worked on that were ripped back out again. We keep what we see as the best features of several services, because they work well together, and it makes sense.
Even then, our features are not replacements. Does the social aggregator replace the social network? We don’t think so, and we don’t have an interest in replacing proven and useful social tools. Basic services on the Web – messaging, “microblogging”, social networking, reading and writing – really do belong together, and we believe we are creating a sound solution.
What we’re up to
The attention we got a few weeks ago was a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. We have been developing Streamy since the end of 2006, and have been trying to keep up with your interest in the product. We’re just a couple of guys fresh out of school who love what we do. We’re working as hard as we can to develop the best product we can.
We have a handful of testers who have been extremely helpful to us, and we’d like to thank them for their time, dedication, and curiosity. We have been bringing more people onto the site as we can handle them, and we have recently been ramping up capacity to continue that trend.
Given the interest we’ve seen, we’re going to offer invitations to some of the technology blogs who have given us coverage, so you’ll be seeing some of those in the next few days. If you are a member of the site, we’ll be giving you invitations for your friends. Otherwise, we’ll continue to go down our list of requests and honor them as soon as we can.
So, what is Streamy?
Read, share, and discuss the best stories on the Web.
Nice tagline, right?
We consolidate the stories, sites and people you care about into a real-time experience. Streamy presents items and events to you that are personally and professionally relevant so you can concentrate on what matters. To do this, we integrate the strengths of content, community, and context.
Our goal is to evolve the way you read and interact with news. We don’t believe any other products on the market have the capabilities that we do – yet. However, we are very aware of the need to continuously innovate and stay ahead of the game at all costs.
You can check out our (fairly dated) screencast here. We’ve come a long way since then, so if you know anyone interested in creating a new screencast for us, please let us know:)
We’ve tried to scrap features that we think are redundant to other services so that we can offer you a pure and unique product, which incorporates these services. We have an aggressive plan to deploy new enhancements, features, and products, so be sure to check back here regularly. Feel free to drop us a comment; we’d love to talk to you.