Some people have been asking me to explain a bit more about what I mean when I say the web is now a "paradigm of streams", as noted earlier in a previous conversation I had with a colleague. Brevity and clarity are not two of my strong suits, so both are what I will attempt to achieve with the following explanation.
To begin, we know that the web has gone from a paradigm of sites, or pages, to a paradigm of applications. I would offer one step further in this abstraction-- that it is, or is becoming, a paradigm of action and interaction with these applications, thus resulting in "streams" of behavioral data. We are now in, or approaching, a paradigm of streams.
This "paradigm of streams" essentially contends that 1) "content" by definition has evolved to include both explicit and implicit user output and 2) that this new content is channel-agnostic, ever-expanding, and yes, entirely portable.
This an entirely user-centric view of the Web (so for marketers out there, take note).
We can understand our streaming web experience in perhaps two ways: Aggregated Streams and Distributed Streams, or, "in and out flows."
Aggregated Streams: It is no longer necessary to visit a site or page to access its content, nor is it necessary interact with the actual UI of an application in order to leverage it. I can access content, or aggregate streams of content, to me wherever I choose via widgets and RSS feeds (such as on a homepage mashup like Netvibes or my Goog reader). I can also aggregate my interactions, and the content I produce, with applications such as FriendFeed. In this way, my web experience is highly customized, comprised of the actions of others which produce "content."
Distributed Streams: My distributed streams are those actions and/or interactions that create output or content in various (social) spaces. In turn, friends and online associates may choose to aggregate my distributed "streams", thus my actions become the content that makes up their online experience. Again, we can call on FriendFeed to provide an example of what all of this activity looks like. Note: I don't intend to say that FriendFeed is what the web is turning into, but rather it is an example of a very early iteration of what our network of streams may look like.
In reality, my web experience is really comprised of these micro-interactions (to borrow from Armano), the input and output of which are ever-expanding streams of activity. Scientists are apparently calling this "ambient awareness", this awareness being the result of streaming data (which streaming data = the new "content"?).
My distributed streams, and the streams I choose to cull, create a highly personalized, highly active web experience-- a paradigm of streams.