Lifestreaming and I go way back, at least 5 years. 2008 was when I wrote about it first, though the experiments had started earlier. Most of the services I’ve mentioned in the post are now defunct, but my interest in the subject never waned. From the perspectives of memories mentioned in that post to speciation to brands using their lifestreams to build communities around it, I have had several thoughts on the subject. That’s why I found this post at GigaOm, which was about Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai sharing data logs from his life (weight, sleep, activities) and hoping developers would hack his ‘personal API‘, very very interesting. There have been stories about people and the tons of lifestreaming data they have amassed, but I had never heard of an API, and therefore consider it pioneering work.
Pioneering, less because of the novelty, and more because I think it has the potential to become mainstream, and even, the default paradigm of creation and consumption. Since the engagement @ scale framework refuses to let go of me, I immediately thought of the personal API in that context. With technological advances, I think it’ll become easier to create one’s own APIs and you can see several companies mentioned in the GigaOm post that are working on it. So I’d hope that its evolution is as fast as (or faster than) that of self publishing (on the web) which about a decade back was a relatively complex thing to do. So, in essence, we’re talking about huge amounts of data that are being generated and captured by individual users, and this is only going to be accelerated thanks to phenomena like wearable technology.
The current way of looking at Big Data is to synthesise actionable insights from processed and unprocessed information from touch points related or unrelated to the enterprise. As I’d mentioned in my presentation (on engagement @ scale) this is then used to target users better or drive more efficiencies. They don’t really operate at the higher levels of community/meaning/purpose. Now think of the personal API and the data it holds. What if we looked at this individual streams of ‘Big Data’ not from the enterprise’ perspective but from the user perspective? What if brands created platforms that would allow people to upload data that they choose to so that the brands could solve their needs better? Like I wrote in my ‘maker’ post, with massive technology leaps happening in areas like 3 D printing, there are tremendous opportunities for co-creation. Brands could even aggregate data from these individual streams to find need gaps and package that for a larger market. In fact, I’d say that this is probably what Nike+ is doing already.
But the real story is that these personal APIs could give great insights into the individual’s purpose in life, his priorities – in short, his life’s narrative. It gives brands the window to latch on to the narrative that they can identify with, and create value and meaning in the individual’s life. I think that’s what brands originally strove to do!
until next time, AP”I”
PS: Over at Soylent, they’re creating the nutritional equivalent of water, an ubiquitous ‘meal’ that is customised for body types. Funding? Kickstarter of course!