Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Activities for Everyone

An activities stream is a list of activities.
The reason why its called a stream is because new activities are continuously being ingested and in turn delivered to a variety of places. Fresh information is always flowing on the activities stream.

So what exactly are activities ?
Activities are summaries of actions taken such as writing a blog entry, uploading a video or accepting a tag in a friend's photo. The point of activities is to provide snippets of information and let the reader decide if they want to do further research. It’s a stream not an ocean.

Activities are important because they provide a medium to tell your story effortlessly to a broad audience. Here are some details about the current state of the MySpace audience:
MySpace has 76 million users in the U.S. alone (world’s #1 online ad market)
MySpace is the most trafficked site in the U.S.
Users spend more time on MySpace than all social networking sites combined.
MySpace is the #1 most viewed site for teens age 15-17.
55% of all online teens visit MySpace.
MySpace reaches 60% of all adults age 18-24.
MySpace reaches 41% of all adults age 24-54.

For example on MySpace as soon as you upload photos from your latest trip, all of your friends who are following you will see the name of your photo album and the latest five photo thumbnails with links to see more on their homepage. Basically you do something, we record it and surface it your friends.

But wait a second, what if I don't want all my friends to know I just did something ?
MySpace also allows you to select what kinds of activities will go into the stream, not only that, but we also respect the viewing privacy of the social objects your create. If you upload photos into a private album for example we are not going to turn around and tell the whole world about. Furthermore, you can choose friends on your list not to surface your updates to and on the other hand if you are the kind of open social being that gives us high SEO marks, you can also choose to display your friend updates on your profile and have anyone in the world soak up with your latest news or control access by Friend Categories. The real bottom line is that this is your data and you have complete control.

So what can MySpace Activities Stream do for me ?
Well it depends on who you are !
If you are a musician in band you can keep connected with your fans by updating your status to give them an insight into your life on the road. You can also easily add shows to your profile and have those surfaced to all your fans in the area where the show is.
Most importantly you can upload new music and have the new tracks featured on the stream for all your fans to hear with the lick of the play button. The music player allows fans the ability to purchase songs. Also as new people become friends with you, the band, this new connection will be featured on the activities stream for the friends of your fan thus publicizing your band.
If you love music and love sharing your finds with your friends then rest assured that every time you make a public playlist your friends will be able to check it out and play the songs and see if they want to buy them or make them part of their playlists. In fact your friends can go into a view called songs recently added by friends and have a filter view of just the music activities.
If you are a comedian or ad-hoc entertainer you can upload videos of your shows and have those be surfaced on the activities stream. Once your fans add them to their Favorites list this activity will also be surfaced with their friends and cause a viral effect.

Activities provide a conduit for very subtle communication to those who have the time to listen. Sometimes friends just read. Other times they will write comments back. At MySpace we have been making it easier for your friends to give you feedback on what you did.

If you are always on the go you can take pictures with your phone and have your mobile adventures featured on the activities stream. Also from mobile devices you can get all of the latest activities your friends are doing. And with the use of standards such as oAuth and atom activity streams, MySpace is now delivering your stream to other social networks like Google, Yahoo, AOL and coming soon Windows Live.

So how rich is our activities offering today ?
MySpace provides a core set of about a dozen activities which represent the main functionality provided by the site: Building friendships, Sharing music, photos, videos, writing blogs, updating your status, organizing events such as concerts for bands and interacting with applications. Soon we will be providing ratings and reviews of local spots as well.
Yes that is a lot of stuff but we also take consideration in reducing the noise
For example, It is important to notice that surfaced activities are only creational or positive. If a user decides to remove a video from being a favorite we simply extract the original favorite activity from the feed rather than spamming the readers. The activities stream (exposed in human readable format) depicts the end state of the actor with the social object.
We also consolidate information when several actors (users) perform the same activity and when a single user performs many similar activities like uploading a gallery of photos or befriending several musicians. The whole point is to make the activities stream digestible.
When you follow someone's stream you get to see how they interact with the world on a daily basis. If they start liking a new band, make a music playlist, recommend a new nightclub, movie or book or dig a new political figure.
Getting to know someone via their activity stream is much more real than reading a static list of interests and about me fields which was edited about a year ago.

social coder

My photo
San Francisco, California, United States
Open Web Standards Advocate