My favourite social networking site at the moment is without a doubt Friendfeed (but of course that is subject to immediate change if the “Next Big Thing” should rear its big ugly head).
But as with everything else on the internet, Friendfeed isn’t perfect by any means. Just like everyone else, I have my wishlist of what I would like to see on Friendfeed and it isn’t a big list compared to what others want to see. I am not a demanding person. My needs and desires are actually pretty small.
I am actually caught in a dilemma at the moment with Friendfeed. It’s the same dilemma I face with all new applications like this when I start out. On the one hand, I want to only subscribe to people that I know and end up with a close circle of real friends. That way, I shut out all the unnecessary noise, information overflow and so forth. I see only the quality stuff and I am disturbed only by real friends.
But on the other hand, I am finding Friendfeed insanely useful for work purposes (especially now that a memetracker has been developed). The more people I subscribe to, the more links I find to click on, that lead me to stories to write about. In a way, you could say that Friendfeed is helping to pay my bills. But then that leads me back to the noise and the information overflow that I was mentioning just a moment ago. By going through the links, the comments, the Likes, and God knows what else, I find myself literally drowning. More and more stuff gets added to Friendfeed every second and you can easily waste hours in there flailing, trying in vain to get out, only to find that Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis are the lifeguards!
Which leads me to my first wish for Friendfeed. This was first wished for by Internet Duct Tape – don’t cross the streams! In other words, there has to be a way to stop the duplication of links. I often send the same link to Digg, Stumbleupon and Delicious and then that link gets posted three times on my Friendfeed account. There must be a way for Friendfeed to see that it is the same link and for two of those links to get zapped. I can’t believe it is beyond the abilities of the Friendfeed developers to work out a fix to this.
Another wish on my list would be for Friendfeed to pick up my comments on blogs and aggregrate them to my Friendfeed. By having all comments funnelled to FF, not only would I have everything in one place but it would also encourage the conversation to continue. I have tried setting up a Google Alert for my comments and then running the RSS feed through Friendfeed but it doesn’t work. I comment on a lot of blogs and I would love for all of those comments to be picked up and deposited on Friendfeed.
Internet Duct Tape has also done some great Greasemonkey scripts that I think should be picked up by Friendfeed as default features. There is one where you can filter out links according to a particular service (so all the YouTube links or all the Delicious links and so on).
There is also another one, by Friendfeed Apps, where you can mark links to be read later if you don’t have time to read it at that moment. The links get moved to a “read later” tab which is very useful.
The one thing I found extremely amusing with Friendfeed when I started using it was the “imaginary friends” feature. My first instinctive reaction was “imaginary friends! I haven’t had one of them since I was four years old!”. But when Steve Rubel discussed them in his blog, I finally realised the value of them. You can use them to track people who don’t use Friendfeed or don’t have any intention of using it – in other words, a stalker’s wet dream.
So Friendfeed still has some way to go until it is my perfect web application, but it is getting there. All it has to do is cut down on the noise, aggregrate my comments, integrate and improve some of the features that some developers have made and Bob’s your Uncle, we might actually have a perfect web app on our hands.