How to track anything and everything in your lifestream

Usually, most lifestream services out there only allow you to track specific places and usually these places are only the most popular like facebook, flickr, del.icio.us etc. Furthermore they only give you limited control on the look.

This is mainly the reason why I went for my own hosted lifestream. It allows me to track anything I can get a feed for as well as modify it as much as I want to look the way I want it.

However there is always the problem of how to track things that do not provide a feed of some sort. Sure, you might be able to use co.mments to track you blog comments but what if you want to log the comments you left on a forum, in a bug tracker or in a private location? How about when you need to track something completely different than that, like an email of yours to a mailing list or a new torrent you’ve uploaded?

The answer is: Simple. Bookmarking.

All you need to do is utilize an online bookmarking service like del.icio.us or getboo to tag your actions and then use the tag feeds to import them into your lifestream. Not only then can you get a feed for the various actions of yours, but if you utilize extra tags, you can categorize it further afterwards, provided your lifestream services can play with categories.

For example, I am currently bookmarking all the comments I leave on the internet and tag them as “mycomments“. If you check these bookmarks you will also see that they are further tagged as “blogcomments”, “comment_start” etc. Once a comment is tagged, Getboo provides it as a tag feed which I import into my google reader lifestream (for archiving purposes). Finally, my lifestream takes that and depending on the original tag feed the item comes from, it formats it appropriately in the list. Thus you will see all the comments use the same icon & colour while the FSD actions another. However they are both in the same service (getboo) and in the same feed (Google reader lifestream).

Not only that, but if you look deeper you will see that even items from the same source have further differences. Under the FSD class you can see items marked as “Voted Up”, “Buried” or “Commented on”. They are all however coming from the same original getboo tag feed and this is where the tags/categories of a bookmarking service come especially handy. Using the amazing capabilities of SimplePie and some newfound php knowledge I’ve cooked up a method to query the categories of each lifestream item and further format them based on what I find.

At this point, (with only free software tools mind you: getboo, wordpress, simplepie and simplelife) I have a lifestream that is much more inclusive than, I believe, any other option out there, and the capabilities I have are truly endless.

Currently, I am planning to getting logs for mailing lists, bug fixings, wiki edits and whatever else I do on the intertubes. Once everything is ready, I just need to wrap everything up and give it to you as an enhanced WordPress plugin ;)

PS: I suggest getboo throughout this article because del.icio.us is already used by many other lifestreams out there already. If you start bookmarking your actions there, you’ll get them double unless you unregister del.icio.us totally it from your service. That will mean however that your normal bookmarks won’t be tracked anymore. By using an alternative, you avoid that fate and get the best of both worlds.

Oh, and did I mention that if you really have to, you can also host your own getboo? ;)

So what are you waiting for. Start tagging ;)


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