December 6, 2009 Leave a comment
From the home office in the middle of the road by my smashed up SUV with a nine-iron imprint on my face…
Observations on technology and business from someone who should know better
December 6, 2009 Leave a comment
From the home office in the middle of the road by my smashed up SUV with a nine-iron imprint on my face…
September 9, 2009 3 Comments
I belong to two groups on FriendFeed, Enterprise 2.0 and Innovation Management. These groups track tweets and Delicious bookmarks related to their respective topics. The Enterprise 2.0 Group was set up in June 2008, meaning it’s about 15 months old. The Innovation Management Group was set up July 24, 2009, meaning it’s about 1 1/2 months old.
So the Enterprise 2.0 Group has a 13 1/2 month head start in terms of attracting members.
Which makes this all the more remarkable:
July 24, 2009 2 Comments
On this blog, I’ve talked previously about the value of using FriendFeed for tracking topics from around the web (here, here, here). For instance, the Enterprise 2.0 Group, with 508 members, is a great place to track the latest in enterprise social software.
When I joined Spigit, I wanted to get up-to-speed fast on the topics and people driving the energy in innovation management. So I set up another FriendFeed Group, called Innovation Management. This one I set up as a “private, invite only”. I just wanted a nice place where I could learn and keep up with happenings in the field. I was tracking tweets with the hash tag #innovation, the words “innovation management” and Delicious bookmarks tagged with innovation. I also have the tweets of as number of people in the field captured in the Group as well. My own little private news service.
But a funny thing happened. People found my “private” Group. I had 17 different people requesting to join the Group. How’d they find it? I don’t know. FriendFeed Group search says “Find public groups“. It wasn’t public.
Regardless, there were 17 people who requested to join my little Group of 1. What to do?
I opened it up. What the hell, why not? So if you’re interested in tracking what’s happening in the world of innovation management, go ahead and click the link below:
40 people are members already. See you there.
June 25, 2009 4 Comments
FriendFeed just took a fairly significant step forward. And in doing so, I wonder if they have an ultimate destiny as some sort of business platform.
FriendFeed now supports file attachments. When you post a new entry directly to FriendFeed, there is now an option to Add: Files. Here’s a test post I did:
You can see the PDF attachment, along with the file size. From an extended conversation by the community with the FriendFeed team about this release, here are some other details:
Last December, I wrote If You Had to Choose One Form of Digital Communication, What Would It Be? In that post, I assessed six different technologies: email, IM, SMS text, Twitter, social networks, FriendFeed. At that time, I picked Twitter, because I could send directed messages to people. I also added this:
A word about FriendFeed. If they ever decide to support direct messaging and something similar to the @reply tab of Twitter, then they would become my communication mode of choice. There is so much more that can be done there via different media types, along with Rooms and Lists.
For now, I had to choose e-mail, especially for exchange of attachments.
I hope and pray when FF becomes the one and all platform. It is so well thought out. But for now, I wouldn’t be able to function without email. That is my number one choice!
email – still the most versatile, and durable
Email. Free wins. Other things are free but not as full featured.
Email – for better or worse, literally everyone has an email account. Plus it’s essential in the workplace.
Since I wrote that post, FriendFeed has rolled out these three major advances:
You see those developments, and you start to realize that, “Hey! They’re building a communication and collaboration platform over there!” They’ve basically answered whatever shortfalls people expressed.
Now social networks are all fun and games, right? So what does this latest release say about FriendFeed’s direction? From their blog post:
We’ve certainly been using this feature internally and have found it extremely useful. We hope it’ll help make you and your collaborators even more productive, and a little more attached to FriendFeed.
FriendFeed is certainly touching on activities that define the work day. I mean, if you look at what Yammer or Socialcast does (e.g. microblogging, direct messages, file attachments, groups), you’ll see FriendFeed is overlapping much of that. FriendFeed, the business application? Certainly it has plenty of revenue opportunities there if the advertising model is not of interest. Well, maybe there are revenue opportunities in the small- to mid-sized business segment.
And a final point. Google Wave is an outstanding technology, with its real-time sharing and communication, server-based access and federated protocol. As I said in my post about Wave, it will be the young guns that incorporate it and advance it inside the enterprise. Since FriendFeed is pushing forward strongly on being a leading company in communication and collaboration, adoption of Google Wave seems like a natural. The federated protocol is a terrific opportunity to create collaborative ecosystems.
I’m sure the FriendFeed team is experimenting with Google Wave right now. We’ll see what they come up with.
June 19, 2009 6 Comments
When FriendFeed recently introduced limited bios for members, they included the option to display 5 different services on your profile page. If you don’t select 5, they’ll assign 5 of your feeds to the page (assuming you have at least 5 feeds).
I hadn’t yet updated my five on FriendFeed, until today. I’ve got 14 different services piped into my FriendFeed account, so I had to decide which of them to display. My FriendFeed Fave 5 are shown in the graphic to the right.
It occurred to me that this is a lot like posting badges on a site, or stickers on your laptop. You’re telling the world what’s important to you. You’re making something of a statement.
Here are why I picked my Fave 5:
While I really enjoy my other feeds as well, I figured these were the 5 that best represented me. Out of curiosity, I checked several other folks on FriendFeed to see what was in their FriendFeed Fave 5. Here’s what I found:
Mark’s Fave 5 are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, his blog and his Tumblr.
Anika’s Fave 5 are Twitter, her blog, Flickr, Goodreads and Last.fm
Steve’s Fave 5 are Facebook, Twitter, his blog, Flickr and Google Reader.
Mona likes turtles…her Fave 5 are Twitter, her blog, her ffffound account, Identi.ca and Brightkite.
Daniel’s Fave 5 are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, his blog and his Twitter favorites.
Tina’s Fave 5 are her drop.io blog, her blog, her Tumblr, her Google Reader and her Google Talk.
Thomas Hawk’s Fave 5 are Twitter, his blog, Zooomr, Flickr and Netflix.
Observation #1: There’s a lot of commonality in this group, including me. We like Twitter and our blogs. Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Reader also make appearances.
Observation #2: There’s something about the 5th position feed that really distinguishes each person. My 5th position feed is SlideShare. Thomas Hawk’s is Netflix. Tina’s is Google Talk. Daniel’s is his Twitter favorites. Mona’s is Brightkite. Steve is his Google Reader shares. Anika’s is Last.fm. Mark’s is his Tumblr account.
Perhaps we should pay attention to that 5th item to really understand a person.
May 26, 2009 36 Comments
Then there’s the interactions. When those are rocking and rolling, it’s a lot of fun. Even a few Likes and comments are worth the experience. Of course, not everyone is engaged enough on the service to fully benefit from that. Which is something I completely understand, by the way.
I’ve got three reasons you should be on FriendFeed now. Not for the conversations. Not for the real-time experience. But three reasons that will be valuable to you personally.
The FriendFeed triple play.
You likely know the background of much of the FriendFeed team – Google. Yeah, these guys know search. Even more importantly, they know something about how Google manages search.
So it comes as no surprise that FriendFeed can rank pretty highly in Google search results. Here’s a favorite example of mine.
Alex Scoble (yes, Robert’s brother) is planning his wedding reception. One candidate location for the reception was the Hillsboro Cultural Arts Center. But the managers of that location were not very flexible in working Alex and his fiance. On FriendFeed, Alex posted about the Hillsboro Cultural Arts Center, with some comments explaining why he was not going to use them. It’s not a flattering portrayal of the Center.
Well, check out what a search on the Center’s name returns: Alex’s FriendFeed entry is the #6 result.
Not something that Center wants in their search results, but a great way for Alex to let others know about his experience with the Center.
FriendFeed’s Google prowess shows most strongly in name search results.
On this FriendFeed discussion, Mark Trapp noted that his FriendFeed account always ranks higher than his personal site. Well, if you run a search on mark trapp, you’ll also see that his FriendFeed account is ranked #1, ahead of some attorney named Mark Trapp. Without FriendFeed, that attorney would own the #1 search result.
And FriendFeed member Brian Chang noted this back in January: “I just discovered that my FriendFeed comes up on the first page of Google search results for my name. I think that’s the first time something of mine has actually done that.” A quick search on brian chang reveals he’s not on the first page, but he’s still there, among a lot of brian chang sites.
FriendFeed shows up #3 on a search of my own name.
Let’s assume you participate in more than one social media site. Maybe Twitter, Del.icio.us, blog and Flickr. FriendFeed, of course, lets you pipe all of that into its site. If nothing else, having one place where you can search for all your content easily is reason enough.
Returning to the search pedigree of the FriendFeed team, there’s a really good reason to have your Twitter account piped in. It makes it easy to find your tweets. As Louis Gray noted last week, it’s much easier to find tweets in FriendFeed than it is with Twitter’s search. On FriendFeed, you’ve got an archive of all your tweets. On Twitter, you don’t.
Here’s an example. I’ve tweeted a few times about “friendfeed” and “search”. On Twitter, I get one result when searching my tweets for those words. On FriendFeed, I get many, as I’ve actually written those two words in a number of tweets. See the screen shots below, which show only a portion of the FriendFeed search results:
Remember when the bookmarking service Ma.gnolia lost all its users’ data? If you had saved your bookmarks there, you were out of luck. There was no recourse to getting that data out. In a post here, I noted that bookmark service Diigo lets you save to De.licio.us simultaneously. The idea being that you needn’t rely on just one service, in the wake of Ma.gnolia’s data loss.
Well, that same notion of mitigating your risk carries over to FriendFeed as well. I pipe all my Diigo bookmarks into FriendFeed. So now I have my bookmarks in three places: Diigo, Del.icio.us and FriendFeed. And when I need to look up one of my bookmarks, where do I usually search? FriendFeed.
Probably my biggest use case for FriendFeed is as a tracking platform for various topics I care about. I’ve got a room to track Enterprise 2.0, which I augment with following 70+ individuals from that world. I’ve got a room for tracking my company Spigit, its competitors and the innovation management field.
But I’ll say this. Whenever I need to get up to speed quickly on something, setting up these FriendFeed Rooms and Lists is one of the first things I do. You’d be amazed at how effective they are. And unlike a lot of social media monitoring programs, FriendFeed doesn’t cost you a thing (although some would pay for these features).
Those are three powerful reasons you should be on FriendFeed. Right now. They don’t require you to get in there and apply Likes and comments to entries if that’s not your thing (that’s powerful in its own right, but more the province of social networks). But you will immediately start benefiting from what the service offers.
Know anyone holding out or just unaware of FriendFeed? Send ‘em this post.
April 6, 2009 10 Comments
FriendFeed released its new beta on Monday morning. I’ve had a chance to play with it the last day or so, and I’ve come to the following conclusions:
That second statement may surprise some people. But after looking at the two sites, I see a lot of growing similarities. And given Facebook’s incredible momentum, it’s not a bad thing.
The new features are described in detail, but here are the highlights:
I’m going to hazard a guess that the default real-time experience is going to cause the biggest reaction.
Before discussing the explicit Facebook angle, let’s examine the new features.
This may be the most abrupt change for people. The current FriendFeed offers two choices: pages that reload every minute of so, or real-time. The new FriendFeed is only available in real-time.
Now since there already is real-time with the current FriendFeed, what’s the difference with the beta release? Take a look at the side-by-side comparison of the different versions below:
On the left is the new beta UI. On the right is current real-time UI. Now on the right, take a look at the top there. See those gray bars with smiley faces and text? That’s how a Like comes through in real-time. Disconnected from the original entry. And see that comment by Luke Kilpatrick? That’s how comments come through. Again, disconnected from the original entry.
On the left, the beta solves this problem. When a new Like or comment occurs for an entry, it remains connected with that entry. Just like the non real-time version of the current UI, Likes and comments cause the entry to “bounce” back to the top of your page.
If the stream of entries is too fast for you, you click Pause to slow things down. In my useage on a Sunday (lower volume day), the pace of entries flying thorugh my home feed was fast, at times too fast. But then I’m following 1,600 people. On a regular work day, I’m guess things will be flying by rather quickly.
But if you follow a more limited number of people, say 150, the real-time pace will be fine. Or live in your Lists more regularly.
The new display of entries is very well-done. Each entry stands alone, partitioned by light gray lines. Visually, this separation helps a lot with tracking distinct content on FriendFeed.
On the current UI, separation is achieved with an extra margin of white space. This makes separation visible, but the page in total can run together in a blur of text and graphics.
The cleaner separation will be welcomed by users.
Yes, FriendFeed now allows you to send direct message to others. This has been something that users have asked for. I love this feature.
You can’t just DM anybody on FriendFeed. You can only send DMs to people who follow you. Twitter has the same restriction on DMs. Once you DM someone, they can reply with a comment. So your original DM includes a thread of the entire conversation. Very nice. You can send a DM to multiple people at once. You can include a picture with your DM, which is very handy. Someday…files?
One thing missing is the ability to search the conversations you have via DM. I had a DM conversation with Louis Gray, and he used the word “marathon” in one comment. I later ran a search on “marathon”, but our conversation didn’t show up in my search results. Adding that would be useful for later recall.
Got a favorite search you like to do? Well now you can set up a search, and save it as a filter on your side bar. The search becomes another “filter”, which you access with a simple click. The saved search can include all the parameters that FriendFeed provides on its regular search, including:
The saved search is a powerful feature for finding relevant information.
With the move to all real-time, all the time, the user picture becomes the focus of each entry. In the current UI, the icon of the service that fed the entry is dominant. In other words, you’ll see a Twitter icon, a FriendFeed icon, a Del.icio.us icon, a YouTube icon, etc.
The prominence of the service icon in the current UI puts the focus more on the source of the content. And for many people, it matters. I’ve seen a number of users say they hide all Twitter entries, for instance.
The beta UI puts the focus on the person first. It’s actually hard to see which service is the source for the person’s entry. Your first impulse is to think of the person.
I like this. Philosophically, it says people are the core, regardless of the source of their content.
This is another oft-requested feature. People can now include a short bio on their profile pages.
This is very handy, it’s a quick way to find out a bit more about someone without going to their LinkedIn profile or blog About Me page.
I decided to put my job, the fact that I’m a father and my location into my bio. HTML tags aren’t supported, but you can include a link.
There are some other nice features as well. Two caught my eye.
First, there’s a page called “My discussions”. Previously, there was a hard separation between entries you originate, and entries you comment and Like.
My discussions dispenses with that separation. It includes everything that you’ve:
This is a great move. Makes it very easy to track all content you’ve touched in FriendFeed.
The other thing I noticed is a change in the way those you follow are listed. The Subscriptions box appears to show those with whom you’ve more recently and most often interacted. The current UI shows a random set of subscriptions.
Making those with whom you interact more prominent in your Subscriptions list is a great way to foster repeat visits to those peoples’ feeds. Which means more interaction.
Take a look at the comparison of the FriendFeed beta and the new Facebook home page:
Here’s are the similarities I see:
The soul of the two services still differs. FriendFeed makes following anyone easy, and everything is searchable. The new beta puts a premium on real-time, and it delivers. And with saved searches and a million filter possibilities, information management is still at the heart of the service.
Facebook has the two-way follow requirement, and you can’t search for anything that people have previously posted. Things still feel slower there, although that is probably because I follow much fewer people on Facebook, and those people tend to share share less abundantly.
All that said, I still see the gap narrowing between the two. This competition between the giant and the innovative start-up is great for users.
The URL for the beta is:
Give it a try, and let the FriendFeed guys know what you think.
See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?required=q&q=%22FriendFeed%E2%80%99s+New+Beta%3A+Taking+Realtime+Aim+at+Facebook%22