Google’s Explores a User Activity Media Feed

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How active is Google Plus? How active do you want it to be? One of the criticisms of the site is that its a ghost town, where nothing ever goes on. I can’t say that’s been my experience, but I can see how people can make those claims.

Would you like to see an activity stream that tells you when people you are connected to endorses something, makes a comment somewhere, downloads a song. installs a program or watches a video? Presently we see things that people want to share, but there’s potentially a lot of activity that goes on with the people we connect to that isn’t being reported. I’m not really convinced that I want to see a message everytime someone uploads pictures or downloads an electronic book.

A pending patent application from Google does describe such an activity stream, and I hope that if it’s something offered at Google plus that’s it’s easy to opt out of. I’ve seen enough of this kind of sharing at Facebook, and it reminded me of the kinds of activities I’ve seen there in the past.

A screenshot from the patent filing showing how network activity might be automatically shared by others.

The patent application is:

Social Discovery of User Activity for Media Content
Invented by Raymond Reddy and Robert Sang-heun Kim
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20130061296
Published March 7, 2013
Filed: July 17, 2012


Aspects of the present disclosure provide techniques that may enable user activity information to be automatically generated and shared with other users of a social network. In one example, a method of automatically publishing, to one or more social network services, information about user activities regarding media content items includes receiving user activity information regarding a media content item, wherein a user is a member of one or more social network services, and the user activity information is generated in response to one or more activities taken by the user with respect to the media content item.

The method may also include receiving an indication of one or more users of the one or more social network services to whom the user activity information is to be made accessible, and automatically publishing the user activity information to the one or more social network services.

The images from the patent show off some of the kind of information that might displayed in a media activity stream:

A screenshot from the patent filing showing what a media feed might look like, and the kinds of things that might be included .

Here’s another screenshot that focuses more upon music:

A screenshot from the patent filing showing a media feed expressly for music.

We’re told in the patent filing that this media feed could be a stand alone application that could be associated with our choice of social networks, and given the examples of “Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn” as some possible choices of networks, and people whom we might want to share this kind of information with. I’m not sure that it would work well as an independent application though.

This stream of reported activity would enable you to take actions in addition to just watching a stream of what other people are doing. For instance, you could “+1” someone’s activity, or if audio or video was being played, you could watch or listen to the whole thing or to a preview. If an app of some type is involved, you could click on a play button which could bring you to a page where you could learn more about the app.

Would you use a media feed like this for one of your social networks? Would it be the kind of thing that you would want added to Google Plus?

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21 thoughts on “Google’s Explores a User Activity Media Feed”

  1. Nooooo. That would destroy my G+ experience. Its a reason i pretty much ditched facebook.

  2. Pingback: Will Google+ Get Its Own Version Of Facebook’s Ticker? | WebProNews
  3. Hi Jo,

    Thinking about this some more, I probably wouldn’t mind seeing these activity streams for a handful of people, like very close friends and family. Other than that, I really wouldn’t want to see them.

    The question is, will Google add them, and if they do, how much control will we have over what we see and what we share?

  4. I don’t have a huge problem with this, but nor is it something I’m particularly excited for. It doesn’t seem to be too far a cry from Facebook’s live news stream, except slightly creepier. I wonder if this will attract more people to Google+ or scare them away?

  5. What I think is this media feed would scare away atleast some millions of people but me as a blogger wouldn’t even care about it because I only use Google+ to share my or others content and to connect I always prefer FB. What you prefer Bill, when you have to connect with someone?

  6. It does appear to me more of a standalone syndication service than a G+ integration. Though why they would feel the need to offer such a service seems a little odd.

    Having said that, I do agree with Brett. It isn’t exactly a million miles away from what we currently have with Facebook’s live stream.

  7. It seems as if Google is trying to go in facebook’s footsteps. Although as Google+ really is a ghost town at least in my surroundings, this kind of step may do give it some kind of value at least a reason to opt in sometimes.

    Google has a lot more info on our day to day doings that it aggregates without us actually doing something to share it with them, maybe this aggregation and sharing could lead to some interesting stuff you could see about your friends on the feed

  8. I think there is a creepy line with this type of technology. I am all about personalization and a better user experience, but there is a point where we are losing the open web we have all known and loved. The web of the future is looking more and more like a highly controlled commercial interest, more of an echo chamber than an open forum.

  9. Google wants to be just like Facebook but that’s the wrong approach. Why would anyone switch away from Facebook to G+ if they are virtually the same? I think the popularity of G+ so far is based on the fact that IMs think that being on G+ will help their website/business the average user though still prefers Facebook.

  10. Google Plus is yet few miles away to get accustomed by common people or we can say it has not become so much popular like Facebook. Now, if Google is trying to follow Facebook’s strategy by incorporating this new feature;then I think it will surely attract more people to Google+

  11. I definitely think the power of Google+ is underestimated even by many online marketing professionals. I hear a lot of people talking about how Google+ is a failure but I think if those people actually spent a week or two actively using it, that opinion would change.

  12. I think Google+ has the ability to become as socially accepted as Facebook, they only need to change a few things around. But as stated there is a limit on what people are willing to share, and i think if they changed or tweaked a few things it could become widely used.l

  13. One of the most important features of Google Plus is how it filters your stream based on your circles or an hashtag…I don’t see how such a patent can match this trend…

  14. Thanks for all the information! It’s hard today to try and keep up with the changes, but you make it easier by giving only the information needed and not a lot of fluff in between. With the changes in Google AGAIN, people are having to once again change things around to make Google happy.

  15. For the people who criticize Google+ for being a ghost town, it sounds like they’re simply not being active enough. I get notifications throughout the day based on posts that I’ve commented on, posts that I’ve shared, and posts that I’ve made myself. I think you get as much as you put into it. I wouldn’t want to be overloaded by an activity stream – instead, I’ve rather continue getting notifications on just the posts I care about most.

  16. I am just trying to get to grips with google + as I thought it was becoming an important promotional route – what impact an activity stream would have? I wouldn’t like it personally.

  17. I can see the value of this data for Google. But as a user, I don’t follow people online because I want to know about their every action. I’m annoyed with the idea that Netflix wants to share each movie I watch to Facebook; mostly because I share that account with my family and we watch everything from All Dogs Go To Heaven to NCIS to Cinderella to Grey’s Anatomy. Nobody cares.

    On the flip-side, if that information helps to align my friends with people who “act” like me and therefore Google can provide me a better experience, I’m listening.

  18. Hi
    As far as I can see google has been looking at Facebook and its success and thinking actually we have to go more along their model as ours is languishing well and truly behind and is not catching on as quickly as hoped and they are trying to promote more interaction. Which is what social is all about. I think there is going to be a lot of changes kept on rolling out for as long as words like ghost town keep bumping aroundwhen that stops they will know they are on the right track. Probably the same track as Facebook but with some different tweaks.
    Great insight thanks lee

  19. Google wants to be just like Facebook but that’s the wrong approach. Why would anyone switch away from Facebook to G+ if they are virtually the same? I think the popularity of G+ so far is based on the fact that IMs think that being on G+ will help their website/business the average user though still prefers Facebook.

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