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Updates provide people with mini-stories about what their connections and others are doing on the net. People can also consume mini-stories on topics they are interested in.


Here a mixed stream of updates from friends can serve as a serendipitous feed showing numerous people engaged in various activities.



Users want to see what their friends have been doing in a convenient format. Additionally, applications derive an advertising benefit from being able to share with the public, or with a controlled audience, what their users have been doing. These updates can serve as reminders to other users about what is possible within the system.

Use When

Updates can be produced and consumed in nearly every imaginable context, across a single application or network, across the web, on mobile devices, and so on. Vitality can be displayed in a context-sensitive manner, presenting information that is relevant to what a user is currently consuming. For example, in a general context such as the Yahoo!'s Front Page, users will get a more global, aggregated vitality view consisting of updates on their connections' activity from across Yahoo!. In a more focused context, such Yahoo Fantasy Sports, the vitality items shown will be what their connections do specifically in Sports and on topics related to the content they are currently viewing in Sports. This context-sensitivity ensures that updates are relevant to users and their context. Users see updates from the people they care about - their connections - and on topics they are interested in.


Vitality updates aim to provide users with delightful, personally relevant, timely content that engages them, helps them connect with others and participate in each other’s lives and encourages their participation in the service To accomplish this, create syndicated digests of user activity from content producing sources, third-party sites and applications and make them available to content consuming properties and other sites. A sophisticated vitality system will learn about the user's preferences by tracking clickthrough, so if the items in the stream start with a "good enough" guess, they can improve through iterative refinement of the weighted algorithm that selects items. The experience for an ordinary user, then, is to be shown Updates presented more or less as "stuff we think you'd want to see based on who you are and where you are on the site."

Vitality updates tend to follow the form Subject, Verb, Object, with optional Indirect Option, as discussed in Chis Messina’s presentation on open activity streams.


  • Friendfeed
  • Facebook's status/wall whatever it is
  • Tumblr
  • Yahoo! Updates
  • AmpliFeeder (open source lifestream platform,implements spec as it stands.

Further Reading

Next: Updates Opt-in Disclosure