FriendFeed Real-Time: IM Now Means “Instant Microblogging”
October 16, 2008 2 Comments
FriendFeed released its Real-Time feature yesterday. This feature is very cool. With real-time, all new content entries and comments to those entries post automatically, in real-time. You get this amazing flow of content and conversation.
In its simplest form, it allows you to passively monitor the river of content. “Passively” might understate one aspect of it. This feature could pretty much kill off productivity if you passively watched the river all day. Here’s a representative exchange. Robert Scoble tweeted about the feature, which got a funny exchange going:
Robert: Now that Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed are giving us “real time” views, I find I’m “Media Snacking” much more. Watching the streams…
Mo Kargas: Robert, do you believe this will adversely affect your productivity ?
Robert: Mo: yes.
The time-suck element of the Real-Time feature is directly proportional to the number of people you follow. If you’re monitoring the activity of more than 100 active users, you’re going to drown in the river.
My sense is that this new feature works best in a couple scenarios:
- Monitor activities for a limited group of active users, or a large group of relatively inactive users
- Leverage the feature for group-based microsharing
It’s that second use that is of interest. In fact, that’s the use case that FriendFeeder Casey Muller described in his blog – following the conversation during last night’s Presidential debate.
Group-Based Instant Microblogging
A few weeks back, there was a post on TechCrunch titled Twittermoms Shows Why Twitter Needs Groups. The post described the emergence of Twittermoms, a site for moms who have met on Twitter. Here’s one quote:
At its core, Twittermoms is basically a group for mothers who Twitter. Because of that, it highlights an interesting point: why hasn’t Twitter addressed its need for groups?
The problem for a lot of folks is that the ability to converse with a specific set of users is tough on Twitter. The @replies help, but you can’t @reply to a large group. And tracking the tweets of a specific set of users is challenging.
Instant messaging is pervasive and quite useful. You can converse with others in real-time. As soon as you post, the recipients see the message. It fits quite nicely with the real-time nature of conversation.
But IM is NOT the same as microblogging. See the post I wrote earlier for a table outlining the differences between IM and microblogging. In many ways, microblogging is a superset of IM’s features.
So we’ve had this situation for a while:
- IM is great for real-time conversations, but lacks many of the valuable features of microblogging
- Twitter is great for microblogging, but lacks the real-time nature and the ability to focus on a smaller set of users
Enter FriendFeed Real-Time.
FriendFeed Real-Time works with both Rooms and Lists. What does that gain you? Rooms can be set up for people to participate around a specific subject. For instance, there could be a FriendFeedMoms Room. Moms join the room, and they can talk asynchronously (Standard view), or in real-time (Real-Time view). Rooms are searchable, so all the useful information and conversations are findable, and persistent.
Alternatively, one could set up her FriendFeedMoms List. Just tag a bunch of userrs into this list, and voila! You now have the ability to focus on a specific set of users and what they’re saying. Put the List in Real-Time mode and you’ve got Group IM.
In both cases, you can see Likes and threaded comments as well, giving context to the conversations.
Looking at these use cases, you can why FriendFeed Real-Time combines the best of instant messaging and micoblogging…
The fact that FriendFeed Real-Time Rooms and Lists can be opened as mini-windows, and embedded on other sites makes them particularly useful.
They Built It…Will People Use it?
Personally, I think FriendFeed Real-Time puts even more emphasis on the value of Lists for day-to-day useage. Real-Time Rooms will be great for episodic uses, such as the debates or Apple events. But conversing with a group of friends will be a lot easier with a smaller List of users.
Since WordPress now has this cool poll function, I wanted to see what you think. Take a second to weigh in, and multiple answers are fine.
See you on FriendFeed.