The gang at Six Apart has just announced a new extension for their Movable Type 4.1 Commercial and Open Source publishing platforms. It's called the the Action Streams Plugin and by tying together data from all manner of social networking providers it moves you one step closer to the open social web dream.
Six Apart is no stranger to promoting the Open Social Web; several months ago they announced they were opening the social graph and invited other to join in the fun. They joined the DataPortability.org group and included support for OpenID in their 4.0 release. And with TypePad and Vox, they let you list all your accounts around the web on your blogs.
So is it so surprising that they created a plug-in for Movable Type 4.1 that lets you "aggregate, control and share your actions around the web?"
Not so much, we'd say, but nevertheless it's a pretty cool development. For a quick example of what this functionality looks like in action, check out MT product manager, Byrne Reese's personal blog. The Action Streams Plugin is a controllable newsfeed that aggregates actions from over 75 disparate applications -- such as TypePad, Vox, Facebook and Twitter. Such news feeds are not new. After all, isn't Twitter one of the most popular info services on the web today? What's unique is that you control the record of your actions on the web, including the ability to show and hide specific actions. With the other sites -- which are hosted social networking services -- you tend to not fully control your privacy or manage your identity/profile.
Here's another example from David Recordon's blog. In this case, he's made his Action Stream the main content section of his MT blog. According to Six Apart, "bringing your actions around the web under your control is a fundamental next step to making all of our blogs even more powerful and expressive."
The People Behind Action Streams
David Recordon has been a very active agent in the Open Social and Open Social Web movement. He's played a key roll in the definition and development of the Action Streams extension for MT. Six Apart also go to great lengths to recognize the efforts of one of their own, Mark Paschal, a MT engineer and member of the MT community. Apparently, the initial development of these new features started during a "weekly hackathon", and Mark is credited with much of the coding work. I guess those hackathons are working out well.
Developing Your Own Action Streams
The Active Stream Plugin is free and available for both Movable Type Commercial v4.1 and Movable Type Open Source v4.1. And you know the drill by now, pop on over to the MT site and download the plugin. If you've upgraded to MT 4.1 already, you're set. If not, then try that on for size first, then drop the plug-in into place and configure some streams.
After you've played around a bit, do come on back over here and let us know what you think. In addition, keep in mind that you can provide feedback and ratings of the functionality on the MT community site.