Social Enterprise

How to Lifestream with WordPress

Lifestreaming is the act of collecting and publishing all of your social networking activities in one stream. Here's the easy way to get started using your own install of WordPress.

Lifestreaming is the act of collecting and publishing all of your social networking activities in one stream. Here's the easy way to get started using your own install of WordPress.

WordPressIs it just me or is Lifestreaming the hip, funky, new word the Web 2.0 kids (or is that 3.0) are flaunting around as the next big thing? After setting up all of those exclusive beta accounts to yet another social networking platform it seems like the Silicon Valley nerds and the Silicon Valley wannabes need a way of collecting all of this river of procrastination and publishing it in one area. Well, that's my impression of lifestreaming thus far.

It's hard to believe that mainstream users will have the time or inclination to get on the bandwagon. But as a developer the idea sounds familiar, right? Anyone need a SharePoint server to handle all of those clumsy office documents hanging around on email and file servers? I digress. Pretty soon somebody may well be asking you how they can get started with lifestreaming and how you can help aggregate blog posts, twitter twits, Facebook updates, music they are listening to, movies they've watched and bits of other people's work they've collected to express their own thoughts and individualism*.

Okay, enough jeering.

There are a few free online services which will get a lifestream up and running in a jiffy if you sign up and give the service access to all of your social networking data. The other way to do this is to create your own lifestreaming solution, which you can do from scratch if you look into the various API's that are available for most social networking and Web 2.0 applications.

If you're a WordPress user, then there's a nifty plug-in you can download, install and customise to create a lifestream on an existing WordPress blog called "lifestreamer". Created by David Cramer, the plug-in is extendable via a base PHP class which means you can add new feed types in yourself, can handle a long history of feed data, can handle "unlimited" number of feeds, create your own customisable display via CSS, and create your own daily digests to summarise your social network activity to prevent spam. Or, as I like to call it: lifespamming.

Here's how to get set up:
1. Download and install WordPress. If it's your first time and you just want to try out this method quickly then follow this tutorial on getting set up in a few clicks. For existing installs make sure you have WordPress 2.5 or later and PHP 5.

2. Download the Lifestreaming plug-in from WordPress.org.

3. Move the plug-in to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder

4. Log in to the administration area of WordPress and activate the lifestreaming plug-in via the "Plug-ins" menu.

5. Go to settings -> lifestreaming and configure the username and passwords for the data you want to stream and the publishing format of your choice.

6. Save and view your site. It should look like this.

7. Read and follow instructions on how to extend the plug-in from David Cramer's site.

* Paraphrased quote from Stewie Griffin. Actual individualism of bandwagon riders may vary.

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