FriendFeed Beta

FriendFeed BetaFriendFeed just rolled out the new beta version of their aggregator and I like it.

FriendFeed is an aggregator that takes all the things and people you’re interested in (and the things and people those people are interested in) and puts them in one place. You can categorise them, filter them, promote them, push content to them, discuss with them, and share them.

FriendFeed has the best parts of Twitter – you can post messages and read messages and post links and click on links – but it improves on it with inline videos and pictures, the ability to mark posts as liked, and the ability to comment on posts too (implemented way before Facebook and then copied.)

FriendFeed also has the best parts of Facebook – it starts with an ‘F’ – but it improves on it too by using another ‘F’ as well.

FriendFeed’s new beta works in real-time. Messages appear, comments sparkle into life, posts become suddenly liked by people. If you’re following a lot of people and they’re all active then the interface whooshes, jumps, scrolls, and generally gives you a headache. Now you know what it would be like to be a Cylon Hybrid. However, filter lists are the way to coax order out of the streaming consciousness of chaos and once you start using them you’ll wonder how you ever made do with Twitter’s relatively simplistic searching or Facebook’s I don’t know how the hell you find anything in Facebook. Do you want to find all the times anybody has ever posted a message with the word "fruitbat" in the title, at least four people liked it, and one person commented mentioning your name? What the hell is wrong with you? Anyway, you can do that with FriendFeed.

It’s not perfect – that’s why it’s called a beta – and it could do with:

  • better design; the default beta look is ugly although a Greasemonkey script does improve things no end,
  • the option to display service icons; the old FriendFeed showed where messages came from – Flickr, Twitter, Google Reader, RSS, etc. – in the form of icons but they’ve been removed and replaced with simple text which is cleaner but doesn’t make it so obvious to locate origins of messages (although you can create filters that do that),
  • centralised settings; some settings are defined on your account, some are defined when you post messages, and some are on the services you subscribe to in your feeds, and, importantly, some are switched on by default when I don’t want them to be (auto-posting messages and likes to Twitter, for example) so it would be nice to have them in one location,
  • better filter generation; filters are powerful but the filter editor isn’t the most user-friendly and it doesn’t include all the options either,
  • intelligent pausing; you can pause the real-time action at the top of the feed but, crucially, it’s at the top of the feed. If you’re trying to read something three quarters of a mile down the feed and it keeps jumping around you don’t want to scroll up, hit pause, then head back down again. Automatic pausing if you’ve scrolled or a keyboard shortcut toggle button or a floating pause button. Something.

But I like it. If you like Twitter because it does a simple thing well but you’d like a little more power built-in then you’ll like the new FriendFeed. If you like Facebook because of connections, talking to people, discovering new things, and the letter ‘F’ then you’ll like FriendFeed. If you like whale-based logos and constant invitations to throw objects at mafia groups who like five things in specific categories then perhaps you should stay right where you are though.

I’m on FriendFeed here: http://beta.friendfeed.com/neonbubble.

Author: Mark

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