Tag Archives: attention

life stream aggregators vs. standard social networking

Dylan Fuller (from A Fuller View which I highly recommend subscribing to) commented on an earlier post asking what was the difference between life stream aggregators do and standard social networking – and even more importantly should he join them.

My short answer, was not right now. Here is the more longwinded answer!

Firstly, life stream aggregators vs standard social networking. Let’s list some of each to start with:

Standard Social Networks:
1. Facebook
2. Bebo
3. MySpace

Life Stream Aggregators
1. FriendFeed
2. Tumblr
3. Social Thing

If you look at the standard social networks they all offer pretty much the same thing with different emphases (MySpace was music, Facebook was connecting with friends). Here are some of the things they offer:

1. Ability to connect to friends
2. Photos
3. Public (and private) messaging
4. Status updates
5. News feed of events (usually) done by your friends.

Amongst Internetphiles, people have been moving more and more away from Facebook and towards individual specialised services and until recently there has been nothing to bring it all together.

Life stream Aggregators brings many of the different items (and more) listed above into one feed for all your friends across the web and across services. The real problem is one of scale.

It has one single feed and treats everyone the same. The feed gives so much information that you can never keep up with everything – and worse most of the information is not relevant. It suffers from the same issue as Twitter – if you follow too many people you lose the value of the service. What is needed is a way of saying I want to see in my main feed photos, news, mutterings from Group X, and only shared items and posts from Group Y. Even better I want to be able to have multiple feeds. Once this starts to happen, this could become a great tool to manage your attention data (ie see what you need to see at the right time).

In the meantime, if you are using specialised online services such as Twitter, Flickr, You Tube, Seesmic etc it is worthwhile keeping an eye on life stream aggregators (especially Friendfeed and Tumblr) and even worth trying with a small group of close friends.

On a separate note – I wonder when email will get integrated into this stream..

friendfeed or social thing? or are lifestreams a waste of time?

Friendfeed and socialthing are both lifestream aggregators. They pull in your information stored across multiple services on the internet into one place. You can then use those aggregators not just for your information but also to follow the lifestreams of others.

Louis Gray believes that friendfeed should win because of one key feature – its ability to build a community or network by allowing users to comment on items posted inside friendfeed.

Muhammad Saleem believes that SocialThing’s ability to allow users to comment outside socialthing inside the external service is the better solution.

I have not yet seen SocialThing (it is in private beta) – but it strikes me that SocialThing’s methodology is the way to do things provided you can still see the conversation inside socialthing.

Of course, Duncan Riley of Techcrunch thought that Friendfeed is just another lifestream aggregator (compared to Plaxo Pulse, Tumblr, Spokeo, Second Brain, SocialThing and Iminta) and that why would you even want to republish Twitter and Google Reader shared items. Can’t you just go to their sites?

I think right now they are all much of a muchness in comparison with each other. Friendfeed does have the ability to connect to 30 other services online and a huge following, SocialThing has a lot less services and even less of a following. I completely disagree with Duncan on the lack of need to republish.

My view is that these lifestream aggregators have huge potential for consumer benefit online. It could become the platform for web services, allowing users to choose their favourite photo/video/blog/whatever provider whilst not forcing their friends to sign up or worse visit lots of different sites to see them all. Duncan makes a valid point though about Twitter, its very nature means it takes up a huge portion of the overall feed. What I would like to see is the ability to separate items into different areas so I can follow people’s Twitters in one area, photos in another and blog posts/interesting items somewhere else. ie customizability of the lifestream.

louis gray and friendfeed

I have been a reader of Louis Gray’s blog and his Google Reader shared items for a while now and I think he is straying into the territory that Scoble used to drift into when he was at Microsoft. Namely, tunnel vision on one topic. Lous’ shared items is one huge mass of Friendfeed coverage, whilst his blog has been mentioning it in a majority of recent posts. It is starting to get a tad boring.. you like friendfeed I get it! What I don’t understand is why cover them so much? Is there some connection between Louis and friendfeed? Is this just a way of giving Louis Gray some attention? Or is it just a great service that incites this sort of coverage?

Some thoughts on Friendfeed coming up shortly..