A River of Information Runs Through It

Recent coverage (NYT, Mashable) of FriendFeed reminded me of discussions we’ve had about Connect features. Basically, FriendFeed applies the Facebook News Feed feature to the entire Interwebs, or at the 23 services they integrate with today.

You have a(nother) network of friends. Everyone posts stuff to the FriendFeed, which aggregates the posts into a river of Interwebs goodness, Picasa and flickr photos, NetFlix movies, Last.fm channels, YouTube movies, Digg news, etc. You get a blog-like dump of all this stuff in the FrienFeed page, where your friends can comment. Yawn.

It’s a very solid and useful idea, and the founders are ex-Google, woo-freaking-hoo. Operationally, how is this any different than tumblr (which Rich uses) or any number of other sharing methods, e.g. posting links and videos to Facebook, Google Reader shared items, delicious, and on and on. Oh yeah, isn’t Google doing this and one better on November 5? Plus, it’s yet another network of friends and non-friends.

Don’t care to review the service, but the concept is one that has even more value inside the firewall. Rich, Paul and I were riffing recently on how a blog applies generally to all kinds of information: status reporting, issue tracking, information sharing, project updates. But the word blog carries a stigma. We need to overcome blog as synonymous with a teenage rant dump or Scoble’s vehicle for attention seeking.

The riff continued, Rich said why not add a tumblr like feature to Connect so you can get all these links, blog updates, files, etc. in your Activity Log. And oh btw, when we finally drop a Groups feature, you’ll have segmented rivers of information for each group, all with RSS goodness on top. This would be my preferred way to communicate in a team, vs. emailing every single “check this out” link.

We all love this idea. It adds aggregation to network groups in a useful way that really could boost productivity, freeing people from spam/bacn-filled inboxes. Plus, it allows you to strengthen your professional relationships and disseminate information in a manageable fashion.

Anyone want to built it? Eventually, Rich will blog about OpenLab.

Update: FriendFeed is, of course, invite only beta, so reviews to this point were spotty.  A slightly more detailed review surfaced on Google Blogoscoped today. It seems like FriendFeed has attempted to address the issue of yet another network (good) by introducing the “imaginary friend” concept (bad). This may be good for guys like Robert Scoble, who live painfully in the open, but for the average person, it’s going to be creepy, almost like stalking. Details are sketchy, but if I understand the concept, I could add anyone who has signed up for the service and view that person’s feed. Sounds like delicious, but not just links.

I like the attempt to aggregate content without requiring another join/invite network, but in typical Google fashion, this smacks of blue-sky, “I’m OK, you’re OK” implementation. Stay tuned.



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