Over the last 2 or 3 years Facebook, Google, Plaxo, Myspace, and others have all been working on a standard to make fixing the noise problem easier. It’s called ActivityStrea.ms (pronouced “Activity Streams”), and its intention was to make it so companies don’t have to duplicate the efforts of re-creating stream formats in their news feed or “activity stream”, providing an open format to make implementation of this simple for both companies and developers. The standard encompasses multiple types of formats for presenting data, some even mimicking Facebook’s combined story syntax (“collections”) where you’ll see multiple shares in a single post, or collapsed commenting. In addition, it provides a simple API for accessing this data in Atom and MediaRSS format.

The key players?

There were others, but at the forefront were Chris Messina and Joseph Smarr, currently both major players on the Google+ team in directing its design. See this video from 2009, when both were not working for Google:

Here’s the deal though. ActivityStrea.ms isn’t just about a common API or noise control. See this presentation by Chris Messina about a year ago:

Activity Streams, Socialism, & the Future of Open Source [slideshare id=4382152&w=425&h=355&fb=0&mw=0&mh=0&sc=no]

In it he talks about the vision of using ActivityStrea.ms for distributed social networks. So, not only would you have a beautiful, noise-controlled format on sites like Facebook and Google+, but you also get to bring your content to other networks. Through this format, developers can bring content from Google+ over to Facebook, or from Facebook over to Status.net, and for any site that supports this standard, the users get to choose what content they want to share, and where they want to share it to. It’s federation at its finest.

So as we’re talking about any noise problems on Google+ (I think the choice to launch with a noisy stream was smart because it means users are always seeing a constant flow of information and followers, and that makes people feel good), keep in mind that the people behind fixing the noise problem in the open standards world are also in charge of the design for Google+. I have no doubt that noise control, but much more than that, distributed social networks, are on their way to Google+, and the solution is going to be beautiful.

Oh, and Google Buzz already supports ActivityStrea.ms in case you were wondering (as does MySpace, and Facebook used to).

You can follow me on Google+ at http://profiles.google.com/jessestay.