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FriendFeed Is from Mars, Twitter Is from Venus


While we theorize that women spend more time on social networks, building and nurturing relationships, we also theorize that men are less likely to spend as much time nurturing relationships as they are acquiring relationships from a transactional standpoint.

Friends of Men vs. Women on Social Networks, Rapleaf, 4/30/08

Blogger Corvida is a prolific Twitterer (Louis Gray Twitter noise ratio 9.75). She decided to go cold turkey on Wednesday 4/30/08 to see what non-Twitter life was like. She avoided FriendFeed as well. She blogged about the experience. These thoughts stood out to me:

Twitter is crack people (I’ve been saying this for months)! Twitter is more than just a social hub for me. Twitter is ME!

[FriendFeed is] not as addictive and I peruse it leisurely and more so for the conversations than the content. I wasn’t feigning for Friendfeed, but I sorely missed it.

My immediate thought was that I’m exactly opposite. I’ve really become a fan of FriendFeed, and think of Twitter as something I peruse on a more leisurely basis. And yet there are a lot of similarities between the services. Indeed, when Twitter was suffering outages today, people migrated to FriendFeed, as the conversation here shows.

Why the difference between Corvida and me?

  1. Myers-Briggs
  2. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

Myers-Briggs

You may be familiar with Myers Briggs – it’s a personality assessment test. After you take the assessment, you get assigned a 4-letter code. The first two letters in that code? “E” or “I”. Explanation of the letters from Wikipedia:

  • Extroversion: People with a preference for Extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their level of energy and motivation tends to decline.
  • Introversion: Those whose preference is Introversion become less energized as they act: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. People with Introversion preferences need time out to reflect in order to rebuild energy.

Twitter is a constant, keep-up-with-the-action experience. Now I’m always an “I” when I take those Myers-Briggs tests, so it’s no surprise that I don’t find the Twitter experience as compelling as Corvida (who has to be an “E”). It is fun though.

FriendFeed streams can flow quickly, particularly as you subscribe to many people. But via ‘Likes’ and comments, two things make a particular update findable repeatedly:

  • Each interaction causes the update to pop to the top of the page again
  • Your comments and ‘Likes’ serve as bookmarks, making the content and all its associated comments easily findable

So FriendFeed satisfies the introversion crowd: reflect, act, reflect again. It also has enough action for the extroversion crowd as well.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

More from the Rapleaf study:

While we theorize that women spend more time on social networks, building and nurturing relationships, we also theorize that men are less likely to spend as much time nurturing relationships as they are acquiring relationships from a transactional standpoint. Spending less time on a social network but transacting more equates to having roughly the same number of friends as women, who spend more time on social networks, but are busier sustaining relationships.

The report doesn’t explain what a “transaction” is. I’m going to assume that men tend to have relationships around some sort of structure – a “transaction”. Women tend to have more general conversations to sustain their relationships, not needing the organization of a “transaction”.

FriendFeed has “transactions”. They’re the content updates that flow through there. Blog posts, tweets, FriendFeed messages, Flickr pix. Those updates are the conversational structures – your comment on the content itself, your ‘Like’, your comment on someone else’s comment. You have group conversations.

Twitter is less of a transactional place. It’s more of relationship-sustaining place. You can maintain parallel one-on-one conversations with many people at once. There’s not really an organizing principle in Twitter. That’s been one of its attractions. It’s a wide open social thing.

I enjoy the conversations around content that define FriendFeed. More so than general relationship building, for which Twitter is really good. As Corvida said, “Twitter is more than just a social hub for me. Twitter is ME!”

Final Thoughts

I know I’ve horribly oversimplified things here. Plenty of guys love Twitter and are really good at it. Plenty of women enjoy the conversational scrum around content that can define FriendFeed. And there’s plenty of room for reflection, not just action, on Twitter.

But assuming there’s truth to the averages, those are some thoughts into what will drive the relative successes of Twitter and FriendFeed.

*****

See this itme on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/f8827724-34f6-fa36-fca5-a00c75bc171d

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About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

6 Responses to FriendFeed Is from Mars, Twitter Is from Venus

  1. Hmm. Hmm.

    I test on the “I” end of the intro-extro spectrum (INFJ, every danged time), I also have that extra “x” chromosome that Corvida has and I like Twitter way more. It’s a difficult preference to unpack–I’ve been thinking on it for a full five minutes now, which is, like, an ETERNITY in internet time.

    This may sound nuts, but I think a major factor in my preference might be UI. FriendFeed is just so damned ugly and cluttered. I felt the same way about Google Reader (vs Bloglines) until I got Jon Hicks’ skin for it; now I’m happy with the superior features of GR and I can stand to look at it.

    Maybe we can get Hicks to skin FriendFeed; maybe that would tip it for some of the ladies.

    Again, hmmm…

  2. Elliott Ng says:

    I’m an INTJ on Myers Briggs and a male. But more hooked on Twitter than FriendFeed. I feel like FriendFeed is more like a social Google Reader–focused on information discovery. Twitter is more like a cocktail party, except I can lurk in the background without feeling like a wallflower.

    Interesting thought provoking post but not sure I agree yet. BTW nice meeting you in front of LouisGray’s booth at Web2Expo!

    @elliottng

  3. bhc3 says:

    @communicatrix: Now there’s an interesting take. I hadn’t considered UI as a factor. I also like your sense that a preference for Twitter or FriendFeed is difficult to unpack. I think it’s going to take time for the reasoning to emerge. With Google Search, it seems like people understood their preference pretty early: (1) really good at returning relevant stuff; (2) simple, clean UI.

    FriendFeed and Twitter are a little more abstract than that.

  4. bhc3 says:

    @Elliott: The information discovery aspect of FriendFeed is what keeps me coming back there. And I think you’re hitting on another aspect of the differences between Twitter and FriendFeed.

    Eric Berlin blogged that Twitter was becoming his new RSS reader (http://tinyurl.com/4pqhny). FriendFeed has become my primary RSS reader.

    And it was great to meet you in person as well. Glad we’re connecting online!

  5. Corvida says:

    I am an “E”. Stop analyzing me so well. 😛

    I didn’t find your post to be oversimplified in the least. I loved it. You made some great points, connections, and the comparison between us was dead on!

    UI definitely factors in and does help me to not entertain Friendfeed as much as Twitter. I do love both though. I guess, I have more to say to my followers on Twitter than about the content on Friendfeed.

    Now I’m going to go take the test again.

  6. edythe says:

    yep, i prefer friendfeed to twitter and am a big giant I.

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