August 29, 2008 3 Comments
I want to focus on a particularly powerful new feature:
The ability to tag the people to whom you subscribe.
In an earlier post, On FriendFeed, We’re All TV Channels, I described people as programming. Via our lifestreams, Likes and comments, we send a stream of content downriver to our subscribers. People make their subscription decisions based on that river of content.
Tags are logical progression in distinguishing people based on programming. FriendFeed has made it very easy to set up channels based on tags, and seek out different content depending on your mood. My initial set of tags are shown above.
On Twitter/FriendFeed, I asked this question:
What’s more valuable in the realm of information discovery? Finding relevant content, or finding people with relevant expertise?
The preference was generally for expertise over content. Marco made a good point:
find the expertise and the content will likely follow
I like that. It well describes the value of FriendFeed’s new user tagging feature.
In fact, FriendFeed just filled a gap in the way people find information.
Here’s what I mean.
Social Media Filling Gaps in the Ways We Learn
The diagram below describes a spectrum of learning that has been enabled by the Web.
On the left is the search revolution led by Google. Google’s search was a revelation when it started, and it’s still going strong. On the right is a method of learning that dates back at least to Ancient Greece: question and answer.
Social media fills the gap between the two. Social bookmarking (Del.icio.us, Diigo, Ma.gnolia) was a very innovative approach. What content have other users found useful? Rather than depend on Google’s crawlers and algorithm, you could turn to the collective judgment of people. What did others think was useful?
Social bookmarking continues to be really good for directed searches, and serendipitous discovery.
But how about a different form of finding information?
A curated life. Lots of choices and more friends who I trust suggesting what they are passionate about influencing how I might spend time reading, listening or watching.
There are three reasons lifestreaming will emerge as an important new source of knowledge:
- A lot of good information and opinion occurs in conversational social media (e.g. Twitter). But this media isn’t usually bookmarked, and it doesn’t rank highly in search results.
- There are times you’re not actively trying to learn about a subject. But taking in a curated stream of content can be helpful down the road.
- You may not even know the questions to ask or the breadth of information you don’t know. Following the lifestream of someone who has knowledge about a subject is a great way to educate yourself.
The value of these lifestream apps really kicks in when there a lot of users. FriendFeed is growing, but you had to accept all lifestreams combined (which has its own merits). With the new tagging capability, you can set your “programming” the way you want.
I initially wasn’t sure about the new design of the FriendFeed beta, as I liked the spare quality of the original. But I’m warmed up to it now. Tagging people’s lifestreams….cool idea.
See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22FriendFeed+Lets+You+Tag+Users%3A+Now+Expertise+Finds+You%22