Most of us have heard of lifestreaming before. Some refer to it has a logging of your entire life online (maybe in a blog or YouTube or something similar). You can also use the word lifestreaming to refer to a stream containing all of your online activity. For instance, you may have content on a blog or two, Flickr, Posterous, Twitter (get the MakeUseOf guide!), YouTube, etc. If you want all of that streamed into one place online, you’ll be wanting a lifestream.
With the tools and steps I will share with you in this article, you too can start lifestreaming on your WordPress blog! I know there are tools out there (such as StoryTlr) that make this quite simple. My specific needs weren’t easily met by many of them. I wanted my lifestream found directly on my blog.
You see, I have been posting less often to my personal blog because of my commitments elsewhere online (paid blogging, Twitter usage, photo blogging on Posterous, some future YouTube publishing, and future ministry-type blogging on a blog masterminded by my beautiful wife). I wanted to make my personal blog more of a launching pad to the rest of my online content, instead of competing with it. Well, here’s how I did it with my lifestream on my WordPress blog!
The right tools for lifestreaming to WordPress
First of all, you’ll need some plugins for your WordPress blog. Remember that if you have a current installation of WordPress, you can install these plugins directly from the “Install Plugins” section of the Admin of your WordPress blog. I will also link to the plugins’ pages so you can get an idea of what to search for and how to install them.
- SimplePie Core (needed for “SimplePie” plugin for WordPress)
- SimplePie plugin for WordPress
- Exec-PHP (gives you the ability to run PHP code in text widgets, posts and pages)
Secondly, if you want to stream your tweets from Twitter, you may want to filter out the @ replies to cut down on the clutter. Many people just want the original content tweets and choose to skip the conversations going on with other twits. For this, I found a Yahoo Pipe that suite my fancy called Twitter – no @ replies. If you know of a better option, let me know:)
Steps to applying your lifestream on your WordPress blog
1. Install the plugins – Like I said earlier, with the current WordPress installation, you can now easily install plugins from within the Admin area of your blog. Visit the plugin pages for more information about them and some instructions as to how to use them (SimplePie Core won’t need you to do anything because it is only needed to make SimplePie plugin for WordPress work). Also, before the next step, please make sure the Exec-PHP plugin is installed or the code you’ll be inserting into the page/post/widget will only laugh at you (my way of saying it won’t work)!
2. Add code and feeds where you want them – I am highlighting this step before the plugin configuration step because we want the stream up and running before we tweak how it looks. The code I used was simple because I just grabbed it from the documentation on the SimplePie website! Here’s the code I copied and pasted (make sure you are in HTML mode and not Visual mode in WordPress):
‘cache_duration’ => 1800,
‘date_format’ => ‘j M Y, g:i a’,
‘items’ => 20,
Insert your own feed URLs in place of mine! Notice that there is a comma at the end of each line containing the feed. Check out the documentation page for more information but this worked fine for me.
Before adding your Twitter feed, decide whether or not you want to filter out the @ replies. If you do, visit this Yahoo Pipes page to get the feed. All you’ll have to do is add your Twitter ID (must be public) and grab the feed it gives you. If you don’t care to filter them out, just visit your Twitter page and grab the feed from there.
3. Configure the SimplePie plugin – SimplePie for WordPress will need some configuration to make the feed look the way you want it to. To configure the plugin, go to the Settings menu and you should find SimplePie for WP there.
There are several options here including the Layout Template section that dictates how the feed will look on your site. If you’re into it, you can actually modify the templates to your liking but for the sake of simplicity, I just used the “Blog style with enclosures” template because I wanted to dedicate an entire page to my lifestream.
You’ll probably want your multiple feeds to show up in chronological order, the goal being a lifestream and all. Look for “reorder items by date” and make sure “yes” is selected.
You can also choose how many items show up in your stream including how many options from each feed.
Some of these setting depend on how and where you want to use your lifestream on your blog. If you want it in a text widget in the sidebar for instance, you’ll probably want not much more that the content’s title and maybe the date/time to show. If you’re like me and want the stream on a whole page, you can stream more of the content, including pictures and paragraphs. You MAY also want to disable comments if you are creating a page or a post for your lifestream.
Notice the screen shot shows three feed sources I have streamed together in chronological order: my MakeUseOf author feed, my blog feed, and my Posterous feed (which I’m using as a make-shift photo blog).
The cool part is it’s up to you! You can pretty much make your stream look any way you want! Do you lifestream your online content? How do YOU do it?
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