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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nacent FriendFeed thoughts

I received my FriendFeed invitation tonight. I'm excited!

After registering for my account, I was asked to set up my profile: registering a blog, my public linkedin profile, twitter account id, et cetera.

Then I was asked to connect to friends whose feeds I want to view. There are very few FriendFeed accounts at this time, which is reasonable, they need to manage growth. If you're my friend, go sign up for the Beta at http://friendfeed.com/account/new. Do it now. This post will be here when you get back.

Some thoughts:
  • The UI is very responsive and easy to use. There's a little bit of flakiness around the UI while setting up services, but I won't go into it here. This is not a bug report. (Update: About two minutes ago I noticed FriendFeed go practically completely limp, only to return with that very UI feature addressed! They're hard workers.)
  • There's a limit to the services you can set up. It only seems to allow me to register one blog. I have two (granted I almost never post to the other one). This specific case isn't a big deal, but a publish/subscribe API for custom services has got to be in their plans.
  • They presume a certain subset of available data from service providers. For instance, their LinkedIn service only informs you when someone changes jobs. How about when someone is endorsed?
  • It looks as if all their services get their data from unsecured public or hidden profiles, and nothing that requires passwords. This makes sense given the generally insecure nature of the web, but it limits FriendFeed's usefulness.
    • Would it be possible for FriendFeed to inform me when someone invites me to view their hidden Picasa Web album? This winds up as a subset of the authentication problem.
    • I want Facebook status updates!
  • FriendFeed lists several Google services. It's irritating that I have to register for each of them. This isn't FriendFeed's fault: each service requires a special URL. What would be nice though, is if FriendFeed grouped services in some logical way, either by organization (Google, Yahoo, etc.) or by service type (e.g. Photos, Videos, RSS, Social). This, I'm sure, will be addressed as the number of services grow. In the meantime the filter is very nice.
  • This can easily turn in to alot of data. I'd like to split my friends feed into multiple feeds. This looks like a perfect case for Yahoo Pipes.
    • Here's a thought about wanting to connect FriendFeed, Yahoo Pipes and authenticated services: let's say FriendFeed allows me to subscribe to a service that informs me when a first-degree LinkedIn contact creates another first-degree relationship. LinkedIn has a security model whereby you don't get to see someone's contacts unless you are a) logged in and b) have a first-degree relationship with that person. How can I safely pass that information into Yahoo Pipes to split apart for my RSS amusement? Looks like the internet Security Model of 1994 lives on.
  • Before I forget, FriendFeed allows you to create profiles for people you know that have not yet set up a FriendFeed account by saying, "I know Harvey. Here is his blog. Here is Harvey's Flickr Account." You know what they called this feature? "Imaginary Friends!" I love the name. Note to FriendFeed folks: I'd like to see my Imaginary Friends in the same place as my real ones. When someone for whom I have an Imaginary Friend subscription creates an account, how difficult will it be for me to reconcile them? What happens if the services I listed for my friend in their imaginary profile is not a proper subset of the services my friend lists for himself?
OK, I'm done pontificating. Sorry if I got any facts wrong, FriendFeed. Good luck!

2 comments:

Jeremy Osborne said...

Oh my lord, another tool to use. BUT, I am intrigued by this and your enthusiasm about it. I signed up to join the beta, will let you know when I get my account set up.

Robert Konigsberg said...

Yeah, my unstated hope was that I would really like to see this reduce my reliance on other tools. I'm not sure this is going to happen, but I'm willing to find out.