Social Architecture: The Layers of Feeds And Streams


TechCrunch is finally talking about social architecture and the design of information feed and streams. Feeds and streams as a cored design paradigm to modern tech platforms is something I have written about for some time.

Playing with Facebook this week got me thinking about what else we might do with all the metadata feeds help to create (the data exhaust). Erick Schonfeld of Techcrunch cites a recent post by John Borthwick providing more color.

Specifically, I have a few follow-up thoughts to my last post on the value and consequences of real-time information.

Layers: Recompiling Feed MetaData

At a basic level, streams are flows objects and those objects have metadata.

This metadata allows information objects within a feed or stream to be aggregated and re-compiled in various ways. A sort of data abstraction layer.

Facebook’s Feed provides a glimpse into what a data abstraction layer might look like.

Consider Facebook Notifications: birthdays and relationship updates are sent to users as synthesized data, not as individuals inputs. Stating, Facebook sees that a number of your friends liked a specific event, applying a synthesis allowing them to bubble up better information for you.

The Future: Metadata And User Interactions

Facebook could take this a step further.

Many of my friends constantly change their profiles. If my friend Sally adds a new favorite movie and that movie overlaps with one listed on my profile, Facebook could easily deliver a new synthesized notification:

Sam: you and Sally have a favorite movie in common!

These types of synthesis spur engagement and social interactions.

As a final mind bending thought, these parallel layers of synthesized notifications can be near exponential; each subsequent layer produces a new synthesis of inputs and patterns residing on the layer above.


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