How do you make it easy to find writing that you do online when it is scattered all over a zillion sites and services? Over on his blog, in a post called "Identity Through Online Lifestreams", Steve Rubel talks about his recent experiment doing exactly that with Tumblr. Tumblr is a service that lets you create a "tumblelog" (which is essentially a mixed-media blog) and allows you to import RSS feeds of various other sites and services. Steve has done this (in part, apparently, with directions from Gina Trapani over at LifeHacker) and the result can be seen now at: www.steverubel.com. All his blog posts, Twitter posts (aka "tweets"), Flickr uploads, etc., etc. Tumblr is of course not the only way to do this, but it certainly seems to have a nice interface to do so.
I did this myself through a different means back in January when I split my 3-year-old single blog into the current network of separate blogs (and then later added Twitter, etc.). My first attempt was to use the Feedburner Advertiser Network to create my own "Feedburner network" that aggregates all my feeds into a single "Dan York All Feeds" RSS stream. This works in that I have the combined RSS feed and then also a web page with links to the blogs and the most recent entry from each. It's not as pretty as what Tumblr seems to be able to produce and as I note in the blog entry, it was a good bit of a pain to set up. It helps that I use Feedburner for all my various feeds.
However, creating your own Feedburner network only works with Feedburner-managed feeds. What about things like Twitter RSS feeds? Now the kludgey way would be to create Feedburner feeds for those fees and then pull them into the one aggregated feed.
Instead, my second technique back in March was to use Yahoo!Pipes to do this and I did so: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=0DoSGZS82xGxhlBMZoQMOQ Now, there was a dating issue that was subsequently fixed, and I never bothered to wrap it back into a Feedburner feed, but it works to combine my blog feeds with Twitter. (And since my Facebook status updates are feeding into Twitter as well, they wind up in this feed, too.) Now, from a display point-of-view, Yahoo!Pipes may again not be as nice as Tumblr pages, but it does allow for easy aggregation of feeds.
Today, you could apparently also do this same type of thing with Microsoft Popfly or Google's Mashup Editor (or so I am told... not having used either service I can't say for certain, but I am told they would do this).
I will say, though, that Tumblr does make it pretty drop-dead easy to do. In literally less than 5 minutes, I had all my various feeds set to go into: danyork.tumblr.com. (Obviously it is starting now and so content will only appear there from this point forward.)
The one thing that Tumblr does not (yet, anyway) seem to have the ability to filter feeds based on certain criteria. For instance, I write over at the Voice of VoIPSA group weblog, but I really only want to include my postings there in my lifestream - and there is only one RSS stream. This is something that I can do over at Yahoo!Pipes (and of course if I wanted to I could create a filtered feed at Yahoo!Pipes and then bring that into Tumblr!).
In any event, Tumblr certain looks to be an easy way to aggregate one's "lifestream" of online content. Kudos to Steve for pointing it out and showing how he used it. I liked one of his points:
I really like that there is a single place attached to my name that rolls up all of the content that I am publishing online. I also like that in just a couple of clicks I can set up a river of news that I can share at the domain of my choosing.
This latter point is a key one. Steve has mapped www.steverubel.com to this Tumblr page. I could easily do that with some variant off of danyork.com. The nice thing with that is that you are not dependent upon the success or failure of the company, Tumblr.com! If Tumblr sometime ceases to exist, or starts charging and you don't want to pay, or has performance problems, or is acquired by someone else, or.... whatever... because you control the domain you can simply point it to another site that lets you do domain mapping. Cool stuff.