December 12, 2008

Spare Me the Gordian Knot - My Brain Hurts

Earlier this week Robert Scoble posted a tongue-in-cheek post, 10 Reasons Why Twitter is for You and Friendfeed is Not in which he suggested that Friendfeed required a bit more of its users because there are a variety of ways to use it, the character limit is much longer, and the search engine is more sophisticated, among other things.

In the comments on the blog post several people proclaimed that they preferred Twitter over Friendfeed because Friendfeed was "like trying to drink from a firehose," "distracting and crammed-packed," "too much info." Sorry, but all those things could be said about Twitter also. Plus, Twitter pretty much requires third party apps to make it more usable whereas Friendfeed has all the features built in to fine tune it to your needs.

The more thoughtful comments on Scoble's blog, and in a related thread on Friendfeed, argued that the two services meet different needs and shouldn't really be compared.

Twitter may be simpler to use as far as simply setting up an account and "tweeting" but it is quite counterintuitive to n00bs as far as participating in conversations. As Peter Elfland commented in the Friendfeed thread, "the tech aspect of Friendfeed might be more tricky, but I think the social aspect is easier to get for newbies" (by tech aspect I believe he means bringing in all your feeds from other services).

One thing that disturbs me, though, is that the option to send information two ways (from Twitter to Friendfeed and/or from Friendfeed to Twitter) makes the whole arena even more confusing for n00bs. Although I understand why Friendfeed felt the need to make this option available (more choice is better, and this would actually allow Friendfeed loyalists to use it as their main microblogging platform) it really does add to the chaos. The landscape could be much simpler if everyone would play nice and services would take a stand on their identity. Are they an aggregation service, a broadcasting/microblogging service, or a water cooler (place for conversation) service? Clearly Friendfeed has the aggregation and the conversation down, but adding broadcasting to the mix scares me. The widgets they offer are a cool way to push out the conversation - let's leave it at that. If social media services would stake their claim in one or two of the arenas (aggregation, microblogging, conversation) they would be able to hone the capacity of their features, fulfill a clear mission, and not tie their users' brains into Gordian knots.

December 6, 2008

Google Friend Connect Might Be Cooler Than I Thought

OK, at first this seemed pretty dumb. What does it mean, exactly, to "join" a blog? Isn't it more meaningful to show support by adding the feed to google reader, leaving a comment, or showing up as a visitor in the MyBlogLog (even though the latter is such a tongue twister it always makes me think of Bob Loblaw's Law Blog)?

But tonight I caught the first glimpse of some of the value. A Friendfeed post sent me over to Mashable to read an article called How To Get the Most Out of Friendfeed. While there I noticed a different post about Google Friend Connect and started reading it. In the comments someone noted they had gotten GFC running on their blog for tech volunteers, CodeKindness. This is definitely a topic that interests me so I "joined". Only two other people had joined. I decided to check them out. One had also "joined" Bwana's blog, and that reminded me that I wanted to do the same. How do I know Bwana? From Friendfeed, of course. Nothing earth shattering, but it was a nice little full circle of, well, connection and connecting. The bonus was that Bwana had a great article on Google Friend Connect himself. One that really delves into both the implementation and potential value for bloggers and communities.

December 4, 2008

Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too

Apparently I can't stop singing the praises of Friendfeed. The thing about it, and perhaps there are other lifestreaming / microblogging services with this same feature, but the beauty of it is that it combines synchronous and asynchronous modalities so seamlessly. Like a busy Craigslist forum, IRC, or live chat room, the conversation sometimes zips along at a furious pace in real time. But unlike CL, IRC or live chat, someone else can easily stumble upon that same conversation two hours later, or three days later, or four months later, and have something to add to it.

IRC and live chat rooms also sometimes move so fast that the conversation is fleeting and not captured for posterity (except by savvy users who may capture the stream for various reasons of their own, but rarely share it). Friendfeed, on the other hand, is creating an archive that lasts. You can have your asynchronous cake stashed away and eat your synchronous cake too.

Friendfeed is my new Orkut

I think I just figured out why Friendfeed is my new Orkut. It’s young, it’s new, and it’s richly populated with early adopters. I’ll just come right out and be a snob and say, most Silicon Valley types and early adopters are pretty smart. A large percentage of them are also witty, or funny, or nice, or all of those things. They enjoy socializing online. In the beginning, when Orkut was invite only, it was just such a precious jewel. The places I hung out there were not techie, but they were fun, funny, and sometimes the conversations took philosophical turns, or explored deeper issues. For a short period of time in 2004, I became addicted. Very addicted.

It also occurred to me, as I was trying to turn a thought into a 140 character tweet, but gave up and posted to Friendfeed instead, that we are an articulate bunch (both the original Orkuteers and the Friendfeed crew) and, although tweeting may have a Haiku-like place in this universe, we prefer a form of expression with less limitation.

Another thing I like about Friendfeed is that the design, in its spareness, celebrates the written word. Yup, Friendfeed is my new Orkut, but it’s so much more. It supports that perfect blend of professional and personal information discovery in a way that works for me. And it loads on my hopelessly ancient computer at home.

December 3, 2008

When Louis Gray Talks ...

Mike Fruchter did a guest post on Louis Gray's blog that mentioned me. It was the fourth in his series of "10 People to Follow on Friendfeed". The previous three were on his own blog - this one just happened to be the one that was hosted on Louis' blog. Consequently, in the last two days I got 51 new subscribers. Prior to that my rate averaged a little less than one per day.

To all my new subscribers, welcome. I'll try to keep the information flowing - check my "Likes" if you want to get a good sense of what interests and delights me. And please don't be offended if I don't follow you back right away. I look at people's feeds before I subscribe to them to see if our interests align. Right now I am subscribed to 158 people - an eclectic mix of librarians, nonprofit professionals, social media folks, and techies. Check them out - maybe you'll find someone fun to follow. Enjoy Friendfeed - for me it's the perfect window into the social web.

November 13, 2008

Nothing Was Deleted

This thread on friendfeed is hilarious. At first I was reading through it and thought I must be missing some private joke. Further down, Lindsey supplied the quote from two comments that had been deleted, and it all came together.

The delete function is supposed to provide some measure of protection. Did you suddenly realize that your clever retort is not so clever? Did you make a comment and then notice that someone already said the exact same thing? Feel silly, all of a sudden, saying "me too"? Delete is there to rescue you. Or maybe not.

Someone, somewhere has seen your comment. Or, if it's one of Lindsey's threads, perhaps hundreds of people have seen the comment.

Note to self: Do not rely on delete anymore.

October 24, 2008

Am I Two-Faced? Are You?

Pondering how and whether to integrate or fragment my two selves. As I participate more and more in online social media and networking spaces, I find myself faced with difficult choices. I have so many personas:

  1. Librarian
  2. Information architect / taxonomist / metadata queen
  3. Curator of content at the Resource Center
  4. Promoter of social media to nonprofits
  5. Social media enthusiast
  6. Mom / family member / social being

Some of these could be combined without too much fuss. It wouldn't be horribly jarring for librarians to read about my IA (information architecture) interests, though it might bore the IA community to read about my library stuff. So, OK, combine 1) and 2).

It could make sense to combine my overall resources for community service programs and nonprofits with my specific resources for them about using social media. So, OK, combine 3) and 4).

5 is problematic. Although some do, most of my nonprofit peeps don't want to hear about every little development on friendfeed, or learn about 27 brand new lifestreaming startups. Ditto for my librarian peeps. Some care, most don't. Where do I draw the line? Clearly I'm overthinking this.

But 6 is problematic too. So many people encourage us to be ourselves online, share a bit of our personal lives and we become more human to potential clients, bosses, funders, or future colleagues. I don't have a problem with this in theory, but often the joy of online social spaces is that people can become quite intimate (and no, I'm not talking cybersex here, but simply confessions, sharing, revealing aspects of one's personal life, engaging with emotional honesty). It is difficult to control who does and doesn't have access to that world.

Because these concerns were present in my mind, I initially started down the road of having separate online presences in several places. On YouTube, I have an account for me, and one for my work (which is meant literally to represent our project, the Resource Center, not just work-related stuff). On delicious, I did the same, but that is becoming a huge pain in the butt. The resulting workflow has been that if I happen to be logged in as myself, I add a tag which alerts me that I should port the link over to the Resource Center account. Can you spell "inefficient"? Yet, it is way too unprofessional to send people to /lnorvig/serviceresources instead of /serviceresources AND, I do need to add organized and specific tags to everything on /serviceresources. Curses.

Then came Squidoo. I have two accounts there also. One represents persona 4., the other is persona 6 plus an experiment (quickly abandoned) to see if Squidoo could actually bring in any revenue.

Now I'm starting to think the Resource Center needs to be on Twitter and Facebook. And I know I should just consider that part of my work, like I would "become" the Resource Center during the day and hang out in social media spaces as that entity, but I already feel two-faced enough as it is.

How about you? Are you two-faced? How do you blend or separate the personal and the professional online?

September 6, 2008

One Night, Two Earthquakes

A weird thing happened on FriendFeed tonight. OK, two things. First was an earthquake and I got to see everyone posting about it in real time. Not that weird, but a true expression of the power of social media/networking/microblogging - whatever you want to call it. A few hours later FriendFeed had its own earthquake. As Paul Bucheit posted:
“Vimeo changed the ids and urls used in their feeds, so all vimeo content is now showing up a second time. For unrelated reasons, some old YouTube videos are now being picked up as well (but these are not dups). The good news is that they are all very entertaining :)”

No, definitely not dupes, because these were videos people had favorited a LONG time ago - in some cases up to a year ago, I believe. And for some folks, that meant back when maybe they weren't using YouTube in a socially networked way. Back when they were saving "very entertaining" videos of a certain, shall we say, personal nature.

One of the Friendfeeders happened to find some videos that a person with a very public status surely would not have wanted anyone to know he watched. The mood got somber as all of us online at the time realized that revealing this gaffe could ruin this person's career. Yup, it was a weird night on Friendfeed, and a classic example of the dangers of open, transparent lifestreaming.

UPDATE: I went back and looked at this poor schmuck's friendfeed a few days later and realized: The guy had never posted directly to friendfeed and is clearly not an active user. He is subscribed to only three people. Only one person is subscribed to him. His feed consists of one page total with 21 tweets dating back to October 2007 and two stumble posts, plus the three errant youtube favorites. I kinda doubt if he even remembers he has a friendfeed account. But eventually that page is going to become googleable and bite him in the ass. Hard.

August 14, 2008

How I Use Socialmedian

Once I immersed myself in the ocean, I decided to go for socialmedian, too. My initial reaction is this: I don't like being scattered. I've committed to Delicious. I've been drinking the friendfeed kool-aid because I like the way it facilitates conversations. If a link is worth saving, I'm going to save it to Delicious. Thus, I see no point in "clipping" something on socialmedian. I click through to the actual link, evaluate the information, and bookmark it on Delicious if it's worthy. But I still use socialmedian to find stuff, and mostly, to watch the progression of yet another service.

Diving in a Little Deeper

Although I diligently added the social media and tech a-listers on Twitter, I oh-so-quickly became disillusioned with it. The lack of threading just made it downright annoying.

OTOH, once I used a few a-listers as a jumping off point (not blindly adding people, but rather stopping to evaluate their blogs, friendfeed posts, comments, and "likes") on friendfeed I oh-so-quickly became addicted to it.

July 28, 2008

Getting My Feet Wet

The great experiment began on July 28th, 2008. I joined Twitter and Friendfeed.

Although I wouldn't call myself a noob (just last night I found myself quite articulately explaining 2.0 to someone who actually thought it was a new infrastructure for the web), I don't exactly stand with the giants, either.

I've had a Blogger account since 2002 (BGA - before Google acquisition).
I've had a Delicious account since July, 2004
I've had a YouTube account since April, 2006

But this microblogging and lifestreaming stuff is new to me. At first, I thought Twitter was just for, well, Twitter Whores.

I decided as long as I was dipping my toes in, I might as well check out this friendfeed thing too.