FriendFeed Brings the Firehose to IM

Last week, FriendFeed added an IM feature, allowing you bring the information firehose into your favorite IM client.

I’m a fan of FriendFeed, but it’s very hard to control the noise level. Typically, each person you subscribe to has several streams of information, e.g. a blog, Twitter, Google Reader, etc., making the amount of noise significantly higher.

I have nine services in my feed, but I’ve seen people with way more than that. An unscientific guess tells me the average number of services per person is probably between four and eight. Depending on who you subscribe to and frequency, your FriendFeed can be very noisy.

This is one reason I’ve never liked the Adobe Air clients for FriendFeed, like AlertThingy or Twhirl, too damned noisy. I simply don’t have the brainpower to follow all those items.

Unfortunately, I can’t subscribe to individual streams of a person’s feed, e.g. subscribe to my blog feed, but not my Twitter feed. This would be very helpful to control the noise, but it’s essentially a fancy RSS reader with live commentary.

The FriendFeed team has been very good about listening to user feedback and implementing popular and useful features, e.g. the recently launched live version of FriendFeed.

And now IM. The addition of IM allows another point of consumption for FriendFeed content which is nice. Unlike RSS, which can’t keep the comments and likes accurate, you can see comments live in IM (not likes though), and you can interact with the feed using commands.

The use of an intelligent IM bot and simple commands shows a great understanding of how people want to use IM and FriendFeed. IM is common and ubiquitous and unlike email, it’s immediate. Perfect for browsing a stream of information and commenting

Twitter’s IM integration was at one point its second most popular interface, behind But IM was one of the casualties of Twitter’s bad old days; remember when it was down pretty much all the time? Even though the service rose from the dead, IM didn’t make it back to life.

About a month ago, Evan Williams conceeded that IM had moved from broken feature list to the features to build list. In other words, IM was hosed up pretty badly so they wanted to rebuild it rather than fix it, sadly pushing it onto the enhancements list.

Enter FriendFeed IM. Intetionally or not, their IM surfaces a lot of tweets. One common complaint about FriendFeed is that its content is too much Twitter, e.g. some say more than 50% of FriendFeed content is tweeting.

My theory here was that FriendFeed IM could replace Twitter IM. After all, you can identify tweets pretty easily in your feed and comment on them using the commands. Alas, the comments cannot also be pushed to Twitter, as they can be from FriendFeed, but I wonder if this will someday soon be possible.

Anyway, I’m impressed with the integration, but it quickly got to be too much. Luckily, the IM feature includes settings to control how much or little IM you receive.

I briefly tried the full feed, but that quickly drove me mad. So, I’ve set mine to comments only, which will be low volume, but very helpful to keep me informed about my feed. Too bad IM doesn’t track likes yet.

I really want to use FriendFeed more, but it’s too noisy. Noise is a huge problem for me, which is why I tend to bounce in and out of Twitter, rather than using it all the time. Features like IM and APIs show that FriendFeed is sensitive to this and willing to build the right features to get people to use their service.

I’m just not sure how I would use it more, even if I could change it.

What do you think? Do you use FriendFeed? If so, what do you dis/like about it? Find the comments and let use knonw.



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