FriendFeed Crosses the Streams

Recently, I blogged about FriendFeed, a new app that aggregates all your friend’s 2.0 activity into a single river of goodness, a la the Connect Activity Log or the Facebook News Feed.

In typical new web fashion, FriendFeed is in invite only beta now, and earlier in the week, I got my beta invite. The concept behind FriendFeed is strong. As more people expand into New Web–using social networks, watching YouTube videos, twittering, blogging, sharing pictures–the demand for aggregation increases. FriendFeed supports 24 services now, which is a nice compliment, including most of the big ones and even tumblr, another aggregator.

After you sign up, you add your services and FriendFeed creates an aggregated feed for all of them. Check out mine as an example. The feed takes some time to finish completely building, but overall, FriendFeed’s focus is on speed and utility, which I like. The ex-Googlers who built it followed the classic Google “spare UI that’s really fast” approach, which is a welcome change from over-Ajax heavy apps, like fuser. More on them later.

I really like the focus on utility. FriendFeed is an information collector, and it doesn’t try to be more than that. A friend is not a contact in the classic social network sense, so adding friends and signing up is really fast, which softens the blow of yet another network to join and build.

FriendFeed models “friends” as simply a convenient way to aggregate information, and the Imaginary Friend concept allows you to group information into a single bucket. Initially, the Imaginary Friend concept sounded mega-creepy, but since FriendFeed uses the publicly available information from its services, you’re really just aggregating public information. For example, I added a couple of Robert Scoble’s services to an Imaginary Friend here. I haven’t tested to see if FriendFeed can aggregate a private service, so the jury’s still out on that.

FriendFeed provides several options for consumption beyond their UI, including a Facebook app, an Atom feed and a HTML to embed in a web page, further extending the utility of the service. Incidentally, the Atom feed doesn’t work in Reader. You can add the feed, but nothing displays. Not good, but this is probably temporary.

Because it’s an aggregator, the more friends you add to FriendFeed the more useful and cool it becomes. Adding people who are super active in new web is the best way to spend your daily 10 beta invites too. For example, Rich has 10 services in his feed, and Eddie has 9. So, between the two of them, I have a pretty active feed. One bummer is that FriendFeed supports only one blog feed right now, which ideally will expand later. I can see group features in the future.

Overall, I’m liking FriendFeed. As a beta user, I have 10 invites to send each day. Drop a note in comments if you want one, or if you’re using it already, feel free to add me as a friend.

One last quick note, Emily from fuser commented in my review post from earlier in the week. Extreme kudos to fuser for combing the Interwebs to find out what people think of their app and taking (ostensibly) their feedback. This approach rocks.




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