Lifestream Concept for PLM Applications

Lifestream Concept for PLM Applications

As you know, new ideas often come from things already forgotten… Therefore, I like looking at research projects and experimental products as they are good ways to find some fresh ideas. A few days ago, I was looking at the Lifestream application created by Gelernter 1994; Freeman 1997. 



Another predecessor and association is Malone’s influential study – “How Do People Organize Their Desks?” (1983). I found some very interesting concepts that, in my opinion, can be valuable for Product Lifecycle Management. What particularly caught my attention was the association between lifecycle and Lifestream. Actually, in regards to lifecycles, I think that we are very disconnected from representation of time in PLM applications.


 Lifestream is about time. Originally, the proposed approach was to throw away filenames, folders and static filling and replace it with stream of information arranged according to time. Actually after the implementation of Lifestream, some of its features were found in Apple iApps and other commercial products.

While terms such as file/folders/desktop are brilliant, but Lifestream focused on the non-traditional aspects of information management, which is not typical for regular computer users. On the same point, I think PLM is different as a good concept of managing of product data that needs to be invented.

The Lifestream model is about to create, organize and present timelines. Whereas timelines may have different representations – collections, calendars or queries, this model would eliminate all other artificial models that people need to create in order to store product information. It’s interesting that this model would allow you to use a “time oriented” memory. An additional benefit of this approach is that the timescale lets you use the same model to manage tasks by leveraging future timelines. Appropriated information “tagged with future date/time” would appear in the scope of the system whereby the user would get this information as an alert.


I think this is definitely an interesting concept that requires additional research and validation with users. I’d be glad to hear your comments and thoughts. 


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  • François


    Thanks a lot for this article. It is very interesting, because the users are always looking for the last thing they have done, which is usually forgotten as soon as they close the application. And sometimes they request a function that remind them the last data they accessed in the past. Lifestream concept may solve that, adding a combination of last and most viewed. And apple put it in action? So it should have a value!

    Yes, imagine we have a desktop with a lot of paper on it (which was product data before plm applications!). What are the things which are on top? The last and maybe more accessed papers.

    What PLM could add to that concept? May be the fact that those papers have been updated by another person, and the user, coming back after 2 weeks of holiday, not only can easily get the list of data he worked on before living, but “enhanced” by new persons while he was out of the office. Nice isn’t it?

    It may solve (or reduce) the issue of personnal PLM, which usualy is simply tracking personnal data, because simply none can do that exept yourself.

    One more time, thanks a lot Oleg for this fresh feedback.

  • François, you are welcome! Indeed, Apple put this idea behind Leopard Time Machine (backup tool). The additions you are talking about can be easy implemented as filters on top of life-streams. Originally, Gelernter discussed options for sub-streams and it was developed in his pilot application back to 1994. -Best, Oleg.

  • François

    Hello, when could this kind of lifestream could be implemented in Enovia V6?

  • François, This is beyond scope of this blog. The content included in my blog is my own personal opinion, experience and thoughts and not necessarily what is going to be implemented in ENOVIA V6. -Oleg

  • I have got into the habit of saving most stuff to my desktop. When it gets too cluttered (every month or so) I create a dated directory and dump everything in it.

    I find it much easier to remember when I created a document than remember how I chose to classify it in a directory tree. But I’ve often thought it would be great to be able to do both without too much fuss. (hmm – I can program, maybe I should do something).

    I like Nokia LifeBlog (now Photos) which shows photos, texts and videos from my phone on a timeline.

  • Andrew, thanks for sharing. This is indeed similar to lifestreams. BTW Nokia Photos is nice. I never seen it before, but idea is similar. Thanks. -oleg.

  • François


    Why not using google deskstop? It is really an help, and can be used in parallel of a try of classification.