Amazed by the interface of Apples new iPad? Or are you holding out in hopes of the seemingly amazing Microsoft Courier? Both these designs are actually derivative from Eric Freeman and David Gelernter at Yale University mid-1990s research on lifestreaming.
Life streaming is a process in which you aggregate all the digital tasks, documents and events into a timeline, or stream, of events. This chronological stream is easier for humans to understand than the spread out systems of files and events hidden in separate programs. And because of that life streams might be more productive as a tool than the common user interfaces of computers today. (The concepts really are amazing and I recommend for all designers to research life streaming in depth.)
The reason why life streaming is easier for our minds to understand is that it represents information and tasks more like physical objects than data. Because it’s so much more understandable we can focus more time and energy on the goal of the project or task than on organizing the files and folders needed for it.
The possibilities of tech not ever getting in the way is mind boggling. But I can’t help to think I’d rather see really smart start ups make open interfaces that can be shared across devices than Apple or MS hogging the space to lock us down.
Competition, however, is always a good thing in the end. Only time will tell.