Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
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Scoble Convinced me to Join friendfeed

Categories: cloud computinghow-tosocial networkingweb apps
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Since joining Twitter a few months back, I have wanted to understand how it overlapped/interacted with the web-content aggregator friendfeed. I looked at friendfeed at least two or three times and never quite ‘got it’ – until today.

Robert Scoble was a guest on the recent episode 81 of net@night. This guy is quite the friendfeed evangelist (Arrington suggests he’s addicted to it). So much so that the net@nite discussion made me want to take another look. Leo mentioned that Scoble had done a ‘how to’ type video on friendfeed. A quick Google search lead me to this very informative 26 minute video: ‘Robert Scoble: 20 Things About Friendfeed”:

What Does friendfeed Do?

friendfeed is not easy to understand out of the gate. Following along with the Scoble video, I was able to learn the basics, how to how to set it up and how powerful it can be.  A primary function of friendfeed is to aggregate all of your web activities, posts, pictures, comments etc. into one place. I added feeds from each of the following web services that I contribute too(click each to see the underlying feed):

Secondly, all my public web content will be streamed out, in real time, to those who choose to follow me on friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook etc.

Finally, I can follow others on friendfeed and have all of their public web content streamed out, in real time, to me – in one place.

[Jan 9, 2009 Update: I just noticed that Microsoft’s Windows Live ‘What’s New Feed’ function seems very similar to friendfeed.]

Addictive

I can see how friendfeed can become addicting. I initially set it to follow the same individuals that I currently follow on Twitter (those with friendfeed accounts that is – Dave Zatz, Davis Freeberg, Brent Evans).

I then expanded it to follow some of the diggirati that I respect such as Scoble himself, Michael Arrington, Paul Thurrott, Leo Laporte, Ed Bott, Ryan Block, Jason Calacanis etc. The quality of content (especially since CES 2009 is in full swing as I write this) is outstanding.  Clearly, following smart people with similar interests leads to fantastic results.

Search

The search feature is powerful. There are three normal ways to search friendfeed – your own content, your friends content or everyone’s content.

With all my content from around the web aggregated into one place, I can search all of my public-web content, going back for years in some cases, in one place. There is no need to traverse 8 different sites with eight different search engines to find my stuff.

Even more powerful, is the ‘Everyone’ content search. As I’m typing this post, the Palm Pre was just announced at CES. A simple search of ’Palm Pre’ in friendfeed found endless blog posts, comments, tweets, pictures etc. on the just-announced Palm Pre. Powerful stuff!

Advanced Search

You can granulize your search by content type. For example, you could search just for sub-content types from, say, flickr, or just tweets, or just blog posts etc. You can search by friend. Cool.

‘Best Of’ Feature

The “Best Of” feature, was particularly interesting. friendfeed users can effectively vote on what content is good by clicking on the ‘like’ button beside any entry. These ‘like’ votes are dynamically tallied such that if you click on “Best of”” (day/week/month), friendfeed will display the content that your peers/friends voted to be the best of that day, week, month. Terrific. This is a great way to surface the most interesting content. It’s kinda like “Digg.com for Smart People”. :)

Issues

Need a friendfeed Desktop App: Like Twitter, friendfeed is web-based. I use the twhirl application to access my Twitter feeds. I would like a similar application to access my friendfeed feeds. They must exist. Any suggestions?

[Note: I purchased the Nambu iPhone App ($1.99) to access Twitter and friendfeed on my iPhone. It seems to work well enough – but it is annoying to set up.]

Loosing Control of Comments: I’m new to this. I’m concerned that if someone comments on one of my blog posts within friendfeed, that I’ll loose those comments. I’d rather have them comment directly in my blog, not on friendfeed. I know Disqus and IntenseDebate were talking about importing those comments back. As I write this, I don’t know the status of backhauling friendfeed comments into the source blog’s database. As you can see below, IntenseDebate pulled in comments I made on this post from within friendfeed.

[Jan 9, 2009 Update: As you can see from my first comment below, Intense Debate pulls comments on a post made in friendfeed back into the blogger’s comments (details here). While it appears that Disqus is working on integration (see here) and there are some tools to do this with Disqus (see here), near as I can tell there is no formal solution for Disqus yet.]

No Comment Character Count: You can setup friendfeed to Tweet your friendfeed comments (as I have done). Twitter permits only 140 characters per Tweet. friendfeed permits more but it does not tell you how many characters you have typed in a comment. If you type more than 140, they get truncated in Twitter. Dang! I note that Nambu has the same limitation.

Outbound Feed Publishing to Twitter: Yikes, I quickly learned not to include every feed from every service in my outbound feed to Twitter. This was a bit much. As of right now, I only publish friendfeed comments, and new blog post entries to Twitter. Not sure what I’ll do with facebook status updates yet. I attempt to keep my Twitter feed more professional than my Facebook world. And I don’t want every comment I make everywhere on the web to appear in my Twitter feed. That’s just noisy overkill.

Conclusion

Will I continue to use it? Only time will tell. It is certainly more interesting, useful and impressive than I had expected. If I can find a good desktop app to run it, I probably will.

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