FriendFeed – what is it good for?

FriendFeed has been getting flak in some quarters for simply copying banal trivia from one part of the internet and putting it in another part of the internet.

I think we all know by now that the human race likes banal trivia. If the existence of small talk hadn’t sufficiently proved that, then Twitter certainly has.

A more serious allegation against FriendFeed is that it just duplicates information from elsewhere, and that if you wanted to read your friend’s tweets, you’d go to Twitter. However, FriendFeed’s ability to collate information then re-present it clearly, make it a valuable addition to all those individual sites and better than similar little aggregators out there. At least until someone else starts doing it better. In the meantime though:

I’ve just spent three hours plugging sites into other sites and pinging content all over the internet. It’s been quite wild, and I still don’t quite know how all of it got where it did. But, I think I’ve worked out some things you can do on Friend Feed that I like and you might:

1 – Centralise everything
You can just keep Friend Feed open, and close everything else, without Missing Out. You can centralise Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and your RSS feeds in your FriendFeed stream. And it joy of joys, it automatically updates. So we’re talking live-time update from everywhere: your friends’ tweets, your sister’s blog.

2 – Share content easily between platforms
When one of your friends uploads a great photo on Flickr, it pops up in your FriendFeed stream and it’s very simple to pick it up and post it to Twitter.

3 – Collate and archive all your own disparate posts
It’s narcissistic, but useful. You can set your FriendFeed to private, so you can use it to work out what you’ve been saying where. Gives you an online archive of you, like a diary.

Of course if your FriendFeed isn’t set to private, everyone else can work this out too. So, as ever, do consider the privacy settings

4 – Sort feeds into useful lists
If it still sounds like an unbearable torrent of tangled, criss-crossing information, it’s not as bad as it seems. FriendFeed is actually quite helpful in allowing you to group posts by the people who post them rather than just by what platform they were stuck on.

Say you log onto Flickr to see the latest updates of people you subscribe to there: that might be a professional photographer posting pictures of a fashion shoot, and your sister posting up pictures of the latest family reunion. Yes, they’re all photos but they’re not really related to each other are they? In FriendFeed you can categorise the people you subscribe to into lists so that these things make more sense.

So, in your ‘Family’ list, you could see your sister’s photos of the family reunion, along with your brother’s tweets about it, your grandmothers’s blog from Blogger and your dad’s videos from Youtube (maybe). While in your Fashion list, you’d get a blog post from the Sartorialist blog, fashion pictures from photographers on Flickr and an RSS from Vogue.

5 – Use friend lists for professional purposes..
The same principles that apply to family or hobbies apply to professional areas as well: simply collate feeds from important people in your area. It’s better than just an RSS feed because instead of just getting articles from mainstream sources, you get blog posts, tweets, videos and pictures as well. And it’s all a real-time stream, so bang up to date. And you can reply to them if you wish.

6 – Make groups for online discussions
You can make groups on FriendFeed, which can be open or private. It could be useful to have a private online forum for business talk or an open online forum for any topic you wanted to raise awareness of. You can then share it quickly with your friends.

To make FriendFeed truly useful you’ll have to persuade your friends to plug all aspects of their online lives into it. But… back in the day, nobody thought Twitter would take off, and look at us now.

Related articles: Tech Tip: FriendFeed & If Twitter and Social Networking had love-children


One thought on “FriendFeed – what is it good for?

  • Nice post. I agree, the major caveat of all new social networks (or SN aggregators like FF) is the “do I REALLY have to make friends with my friends all over again?”

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