Thoughts On FriendFeed

I know I am late to this discussion and that many bloggers have already weighed in on this topic already.

Back a few months ago, the New York Times covered FriendFeed and after reading the story I set up my FriendFeed. I have always been a fan of aggregation and life streaming. I do a bit of that at my tumblog. But Tumblr is not a lifestreaming service and FriendFeed is.

I’ve watched FriendFeed grow over the past three or four months since I set mine up and although I rarely used it personally, I have assembled a large number of followers on FriendFeed. In the past week, I had to turn off email notifications of new followers because they were taking over my inbox. FriendFeed doesn’t tell you how many followers you have but I suspect it might be as large as the number of people who read my blog’s feed with Google Reader. FriendFeed has serious traction.

Now, to the most discussed point – the fact that people are commenting on my posts at FriendFeed not on my blog, my tumblog, my flickr account, or sending me an @ message on Twitter. I think it’s great that discussions are happening around things I’ve said or done and I can’t complain too much that they are happening elsewhere. But it means I have to log into FriendFeed every day now and check out what people are saying and weigh in. Which I’ve been doing in the past couple weeks. And that increases the chances that I’ll comment on someone else’s posts at FriendFeed.

So now, in addition to this blog, my tumblog, and twitter, I have to pay attention to whats’ going on in FriendFeed. So it’s gone from being an aggregator of attention to a demander of attention. Good for them. That’s the way to play the game on the web.

But I would like to see them get those comments portable in some way. Or I’d like to see someone aggregate those comments. Maybe that’s something that Disqus, an investment we announced yesterday, can help them with. Or maybe RSS is all that is needed to get the job done. Or both.

Umair, who is so right so often, said:

The real point is: Friendfeed is a next-gen, open version of Facebook’s social feed.

That’s how I think of Twitter too. But the problem with open is that it’s messy. It’s not neat and clean like Facebook. It requires work. And so I’ll be doing more work now. But most importantly, open also means a platform for innovation. FriendFeed was a great innovation. And so someone is going to innovate again on top of FriendFeed to bring some focus to all the conversations we are having.

And that’s a good thing.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. obscurelyfamous

    I like FriendFeed alot. The number of subscription emails I’m getting everyday is quickly increasing, so they’re clearly doing something very right with the social/discovery/sharing aspect.What you said about the comments is interesting. I’m going to think about this some more but there’s definitely something there. I want to see my FriendFeed comments show up in my Disqus profile someday.First step is to be able to add Disqus as a service on FriendFeed. Hopefully happening soon…

    1. Sahil Desai

      I was about to post something on the request page at Disqus about this but luckily you’re the first comment here :PI definitely want my comments to show up on the feed (integrating it with friendfeed’s comments also sounds neat). I just tried to add the rss for my latest as a blog entry and it failed mostly cos there exist 2 rss feeds at[user]/ (latest and friends). This seems more like something FriendFeed should do. Glad to hear you also want this!

      1. fredwilson

        SweetJust added itMay blog it too

      2. Abhishek

        I integrated it on my FF account too.BTW, do comments left within FF (in response to Disqus comments) go back to Disqus?Kinda like the Twitter response.

  2. Bill Rice

    I think you are hitting on a key information management problem that will only get bigger as the Web becomes more social. RSS was been very effective at syndicating and allowing us to aggregate again our broadcast conversations, but how do we syndicate and re-aggregate our specific commentary or reactions to our content.Then the question becomes is it a “river” that flows or an inbox to be emptied?Maybe Disqus is that platform. Help! I am feeling overwhelmed.

    1. mdoeff

      Daniel Ha – I think you guys have a real opportunity to pull all of these fragmented discussions together using Disqus. And I hope that the FriendFeed guys (and other lifestreaming services) are planning on making their platform(s) open to services like Disqus. There is some real cool stuff going on here.

      1. mdoeff

        Whoops – meant for that to be a response to Daniel, not Bill.

    2. fredwilson

      The first step in not feeling overwhelmed is realizing you don’t need to see everythingFrankly its not possibleFred

  3. Robert Seidman

    Lifestreaming seems to be the 2008 version of 1998’s Geocities — without as much actual usage. I’ll grant that there was in fact a lot of money to be made on Geocities, but there was money to be lost as well. If I was able to short your investments in these type of services with a 5 year window, I surely would.The market for getting attention will always be huge, but the market for things that demand your attention? Not nearly so big. 🙂 I’m not saying that doesn’t mean Facebook, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft or Google won’t start buying these companies up, but I am sugessting all that pans out as well as Yahoo/Geocities.

    1. Ken Schafer

      “Lifestreaming seems to be the 2008 version of 1998’s Geocities”That’s rather intriguing but I don’t really see the comparison. Care to elaborate?

      1. Robert Seidman

        not really, it’ not my blog. 🙂 Short version “stuff the digerati gets in a frenzy over that doesn’t pan out as well as anyone hoped”. I’d throw Twitter, Lifestreaming, Tumblr, all of that into niche stuff from the point of view of separate companies with distinct businesses. Twitter functionality will live on, but will Twitter? Tumblr functionality will live on, but will Tumblr? FriendFeed, etc…From the point of view of the VC, this thinking doesn’t matter. All that matters is having a chair when the music stops. I don’t fault Fred for having some variation of that world view. I’m not looking at it through those glasses though.

        1. fredwilson

          Robert,What if every comment you left here could instantly be turned into a blogpost on your blog?Would that change your perspective on ³it’s not my blog²?fred

  4. howardlindzon

    i am glad I am not too early an adopter and just waited until the noise died down. Now that I get it, I may try it. thanks

    1. ceonyc

      Still too noisy for me. From what I can tell, most of my friends are well fed.

  5. charlieanzman

    Fred – sometimes it’s better to be late. You get the whole picture and a better perspective. The piece I did late yesterday threw us an unreal feedburner spike, not to mention a bunch of new Twitter and Friendfeed followers. (Great to see Seidman back in the dialog!)

  6. Roman Giverts

    Hate to say it, but kinda sounds like you wish Twitter was still getting all the attention and not FriendFeed.The post sounds very circumspect, which is kind of rare for this blog. Usually your posts have clear, strong, and direct opinions, this post was just kind of odd.

    1. fredwilson

      i think twitter gets too much attention to be honest. not a week goes by without some post about twitter on techmeme.but you are right about my post. it’s a bit about being on vacation and not wanting to spend too much time blogging, it’s part that i didn’t want to repeat what had already been said, and it’s part that i like but don’t love friendfeed.fred

      1. Roman Giverts

        Well only because all that attention is causing their servers to go down 🙂 , I’m just kidding…fair enough. Ironically, I think there are a lot more people out there that “like” but don’t “love” friendfeed, that just seems to get lost in all the hype.But then again, I suppose a similar claim can be made for Twitter.

  7. mrclark411

    I love posting comments with Disqus. =)Yea, lifecasting is cool, but the folks who will make the money will be those that “bring some focus to all the conversations we are having”. A way to understand what the pictures, tweets, posts, etc all mean.

  8. jackson

    I like ‘one stop shopping’. I don’t want to travel the web and type in various usernames to track what’s happening with one person. It’s bad enough that my blog and my Myspace aren’t the same page. Streamline this shit. That’s the ticket.

  9. geekygirldawn

    I’ve hacked together a FriendFeed Comment Finder using Yahoo Pipes that people can use to get FriendFeed Comments as an RSS feed. Still in the experimental and might break phase :-)

  10. Tal Keinan

    Fred,The main problem I am currently seeing with friendfeed is that by not allowing you to export comments, they are weakening the services which they leverage.By offering the ability to post new content directly on friendfeed, and commenting internally on posts which they imported, overtime they will deminish the need of other services. I believe that it is a bad strategy, in particular for a service that integrates others.

  11. Jeff Grill

    I’m crying uncle. If you are working at building a company and maintaining a network you have time for 1 maybe two social networking tools. Now I have networks on Plaxo, Linked in, blog comment etc. Can someone make this pain go away.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s what friendfeed is trying to do actually

  12. Joe Conyers III

    I think the real value of these services is using the data it aggregates. By using your profile and the people you follow to create a personalized filter that sits in front of all feeds to cut down on noise. This would also allow for narrow searches, and recommendations. There are algorithms that have achieved similar goals, Monitor110’s and Skygrid come to mind. Combined with social relevancy features similar to Xobni’s and you have solved part of the real signal vs noise ratio.

  13. weblaureate

    Oh yeah. I can’t wait to see how they make friendfeed even better. It has soo helped me keep track of all my accounts…I just blogged about it at……TWL

  14. AlexHammer

    While Facebook is poised to soon pass MySpace I believe as the most viewed social network, it could also become vulnerable over the long term to Friendfeed as well (although it could probably easily catch up) if Friendfeed provides a greater perceived valued to users. I also love Friendfeed (Bret Taylor interview on API etc. which we covered is amazing) and have been spending a lot less time on Facebook as I spend more on Friendfeed.It’s like Stumbleupon content discovery, but with a much better social aspect and much better organized (for those that want that, that isn’t stumbleupon’s function I would think as their very name – stumbleupon – strongly implies).Friendfeed is largely twitter (and blogs) because those frequenting Friendfeed (that I’ve seen) rely on those. But it will broaden out, and as it does its value will also increase significantly.I also think Friendfeed overlaps with functions of Titter as well.

  15. Ontario Emperor

    At least FriendFeed allows you an easy way to find your comments. Too bad there’s isn’t an easy way to quickly get to comments about your stream.P.S. As to why I’m commenting here. I saw the item in FriendFeed, then clicked on the link to actually read it. Since I was here anyway, I’m commenting here. Then I’ll probably go back to the FriendFeed conversation about this post.

  16. Nico Lumma

    do we really need to follow every discussion everywhere? Sometimes less is more, I guess. To put it differently, how much time can we devote to following discussions somewhere on the web, be it twitter, facebook, blogs, friendfeed or whereever? will something like APML take off?