I scored an invite to FriendFeed and after trying out the service, I have to say it is both disappointing and encouraging at the same time. It is disappointing because one would expect folks like Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit who helped launch Google Maps, Gmail and AdSense while at Google to come up with something more innovative than a knock-off of Plaxo Pulse and Google’s SocialStream which are themselves knock-offs of the Facebook News feed.

On the other hand, this is encouraging because it is another example of how the digital lifestyle aggregator is no longer just a far out idea being tossed around on Marc Canter’s blog but instead has become a legitimate product category.  

So what exactly is FriendFeed? The site enables users to associate themselves with the various user generated content (UGC) sites which they use regularly that publish RSS feeds or provide open APIs and then this is turned into the equivalent of a Facebook Mini Feed for the user. You can get a good idea of it by viewing my page at http://friendfeed.com/carnage4life which aggregates the recent activities from my profiles on reddit, digg, and youtube.

The “innovation” with FriendFeed is that instead of asking you to provide the URLs of your RSS feeds, the site figures out your RSS feed from your username on the target service. See the screenshot below for this in action

Of course, this same “innovation” exists in Plaxo Pulse so this isn’t mindblowing. If anything, FriendFeed is currently a less feature rich version of Plaxo Pulse.

I personally doubt that this site will catch on because it suffers from the same chicken and egg problem that face all social networking sites that depend on network effects. And if it does catch on, given that there is zero barrier to entry in the feature-set they provide, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook and a host of other services roll this into their feature set. I expect that News Feed style pages will eventually show up in a majority of social sites, in much the same way that practically every website these days has a friend’s list and encourages user generated content. It’s just going to be another feature when it comes to making a website, kinda like using tabs for navigation.

I’m sure Marc Canter finds this validation of his vision quite amusing.

Now playing: Puddle of Mudd - Control


Tuesday, October 2, 2007 10:09:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Plaxo Pulse isn't exactly innovative either as Jaiku also aggregates information from the RSS feeds of other sites. From what I can tell, Jaiku started well before the roll-out of the Plaxo Pulse feature.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007 5:00:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Ok, so we are building sites to monitor our social network? I have yet to see a site that puts the network in "Social Network". Facebook, myspace, etc... are all some form of a complex user profile. We need something much more innovative, something with a spark!

We need something that is viral, it will find and build a network and I can lock it down to the last bit. I'm tired of creating accounts on every single site just because one of my friends liked it better than the others.
Comments are closed.