Searching the horizon for a new better social network

sailboatDo I see a new network right now? Well no. So let’s start by heading back in time to 2008.

A different social media age

I logged in yesterday to Friendfeed. It had been a while. Friendfeed is still up and some still log in. Friendfeed of course had its hay day back in 2008. I was an active user, an active blogger and unofficial proponent of the Facebook killer life streaming social network that was rolling out enhancements so fast that Facebook could not help but to buy the site for the development team. So here we are in 2014 and all of the good features that made it so innovative have long ago been gobbled up by the behemoth that is Facebook.

Early Adoption is dead

The web culture is has invaded every part of daily lives as every start-up wishes to combine the non-digital with the digital life. It’s not a bad thing as we refill prescriptions on the web, we make appointments, pay bills, shop for media, shop for groceries, shop for cars, and simply do life digitally (mobile or otherwise).

As a self declared early adopter I was early to gmail, early to FriendFeed, early to many, many other web apps that have since gone away. But because of this digital culture everyone is into social media. Grandparents and great grandparents are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They share, they re-tweet, and consume the same over abundance of content that the rest of us do.

More and more this web culture means that people aren’t afraid to register for a new service and give the new site a try. It seems to be a badge of honor for the young.   Instead of saying, ‘hey did you check out this movie last weekend?”  They say, “hey have you tried that new app?” or “there’s a great new web site you should check out.”  The digital life is an integral part of pop culture and more simply put a part of a real modern life.

A tidal wave of data

Back during the age of FriendFeed one subject that was often discussed was cutting through the noise. FriendFeed, in my opinion, attempted to remedy the problems of the deluge of data by integrating search, implementing a smart news feed, assisting in content discovery and displaying real-time results and updates from outside sources.

Here we are in 2014 and this is still a problem. Facebook, as I mentioned, long ago has implemented these FriendFeed strategies and expounded upon them. But the problem remains. How do we cut through not just a fire hose of data but a 100 foot tidal wave? It’s a tidal wave that contains lots of garbage and we want the treasure, the good that is masked and hidden in the sea of unimportant.

So despite the overwhelming money and might of Facebook and the popularity of twitter a noise problem remains that still only seems to be getting worse.  I have a real life friend who has over 1500 Facebook friends.   Every week I follow a new Twitter account.  How do we cull?  How do we see in this data abyss?

Generation young

There are many examples already in this relatively short digital age of the power of the 13 year old. And the teenager will lead them. And the tween is right behind.  The sphere of influence of the next generation must never be overlooked.  They only know digital life.

Friendster, myspace, and Snapchat to name a few are examples of apps and services that begin with a mostly younger audience. The inroads to Facebook’s market share and beginnings of a new network’s adoption start with young people and I believe end with innovation.

A new hope

The hope for my ideal social network would balance crazy fast innovation across OS and device with a cult like grassroots following by the 13-34 demo. The new network would then dodge the billion dollar valuations from Google and Facebook and then take market share like breaths of air.

The new one would integrate voice, text, and video and take input from the other big 3. The algorithm to rule them all would cut the noise as a hot knife through buzzfeed butter.

The product would be simple for those that want simple but complex and precise for those that demand it.

Great content, important content would float like a buoy to the top of the cluttered content sea. Content discovery would also be important too as we are shown what we need before we know we need it.

Digital Seafaring

So as I peer out in the digital sea, I see no ship on the horizon but that’s ok. Our digital lives are consuming. The waves are getting higher and I am ready for a lifeboat.

I certainly will not be the first to spot it but I will know when it arrives. In the meantime I will dream of FriendFeed.

Arrington Interviews Paul Buchheit

Michael Arrington has interviewed Paul Buchheit the FriendFeed co-founder.   This video gives some insight into the fate of FriendFeed.   FriendFeed was purchased recently by Facebook and the status of the small social network has been uncertain.

The FriendFeed community has been shocked and worried at first but seems to have rebounded with more optimism as of late.  This post by Louis Gray a prominent FriendFeed user had eased my fear and pessimism.

This interview although posing more questions and uncertainly does give this FriendFeed user a reason to have “a bit” more hope for FriendFeed’s future.

The Rise and Fall of FriendFeed

FriendFeed may you rest in peace.   You rose as a startup during a time when others rose as well but quickly fell away.  You gave us features, innovation, and friends interested in the same things.  You showed us what the real-time web will be like.  You showed us real time search.  You kept all of our data and allowed all of our historical content to be searched.   Please don’t go.

FriendFeed the early adopter heralded life-stream social network founded by ex-Googlers has been purchased by the popular Facebook.

Facebook the giant social network has lots of features but rarely anything interesting beyond family photos and generic status messages.  The tech early adopter crowd is surely present but certainly not interested and engaged.  Facebook also has a big problem with user rights.  User accounts have been removed for seemingly no reason on several occasions.

The FriendFeed userbase is small.  While Facebook’s number of users is estimated at near 300 million.

FriendFeed defined lifestream.  FriendFeed was able to innovative constantly over a several year period.  The features seem to always keep coming but the service has never seemed to hit its mainstream slide.  As Facebook and Twitter continue to pile on users FriendFeed’s growth was slower.

The best product does not always win.  Just look at Betamax.  But in business startups come and go.  Tech startups certainly come and go.  The tech giants have always gobbled up the innovative little guy.   FriendFeed is the innovative little guy.

For a company with 14 employees to innovate to the point that the giant company with 800 employees and 300 million users would steal enhancement after enhancement.  That they would then seek out to purchase the little guy shows the quality of FriendFeed.

Others have weighed in so let’s start there:

Let me go on record as saying congrats to the FriendFeed dev team.  They were offered a chance to develop a product with an immense user base.  Their growth was slower and this had to be a tremendous opportunity for them.

I have written this saying this is the demise or the beginning of the end for FriendFeed.  But others are more optimistic.

Robert Scoble sees this as Facebook gaining a “real-time, R&D team.”   Jesse Stay says, “FriendFeed has a very competent team.  We still don’t know what was in that contract they signed.  Sure, we have some hints, but FriendFeed has yet to let us down.  They have a perfect track record for long-time users of their service.”

Head on over to FriendFeed and check the very worried community.  Only time will tell.  Good luck FriendFeed and if this is farewell it was fun while it lasted.

Embed FriendFeed Real-Time on Your Blog

Did you know you could embed your Real-Time FriendFeed view on your blog? I didn’t but this has been available for some time. The following is my real-time FriendFeed view.

This will become a integrated part of my FriendFeed page.

Here’s how to do it. This is done by embedding an iFrame. I am still not sure an iFrame is functionality but it is cool.

To embed your Real-Time goto where your username is your username. Then Click the The embed in WebPage button. Try it out.

Hey Joe Blogger, Diversify!

divserifyYou may have heard of Joe the plumber and Joe Sixpack.  I want to speak directly to Joe Blogger.  This post is for the average Joe or Jane Blogger.  It pays to diversify.

There are plenty of life streaming venues around.  FriendFeed and other lifestreaming services allow submission of your blogs RSS feed.  When I blog post the post gets pushed via RSS to FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, and Social Median to name a few.

It pays in page views to diversify.  I am also a member of Strands, Plaxo, and MyBlogLog.  Making content available via full text RSS and submitting to multiple services gets your content out into the wild.

From a personal standpoint I mainly see traffic being driven by FriendFeed.  Yesterday I posted what I thought was a great post titled “Leaders In Internet Social Networks” that subsequently bombed page view wise on FriendFeed.  It really is ok.  I do not blog for traffic but it nice.

Anyway today out of nowhere I was on the front page of Social Median and as a result have had a very successful day (for me) page view wise.  There are no blogging formulas but it pays to diversify as a new blogger.

Be an active participant in Social Media and submit your blog postings to every stream you actively participate in.  It pays to not put all your eggs in one basket even if it is a great basket like FriendFeed.

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Rinsing My Bad Taste for FriendFeed

FriendFeedI love FriendFeed do not get me wrong.   I mean it is the premier life-streaming service.  I have tried others and found them all lacking.  FriendFeed is a great place of news, research, and generally friendly smart ideas.

But, over the last few months I found myself participating less and less.  The bad taste I gained for FriendFeed still lingers.  These negative feelings arose in the weeks preceding election day.

FriendFeed was not friendly.  It was totally pro one candidate.  Dissenting opinions were not only frowned upon but some users were verbally abused by the herd.

The abuse was even supported by members of the frienderati pushing their political views.

You know how when you see celebrities on television at some awards show being very political just because they can.   These celebrities have no more intelligence or insight than you or I.  The person with the spotlight simply pushes their own agenda or beliefs.

The Frienderati acted in the same way.  They decided that since they were popular they would use FriendFeed as a platform to push personal political views at the expense of whoever disagreed.

That practice is not Friendly.    That I believe is blatant abuse of the service.

Look just because you are popular does not make you God’s gift to politics or God himself.  Opinions as we know are like arm pits, we all have them and they all stink.

I will not name the Frienderati members fearing backlash.  I do not wish to start a meme.

I have been back on FriendFeed post election from time to time.   But, unfortunately the bad taste is lingering.  Every social network ever formed has changed over time.  The bloom goes off the proverbial rose eventually.

FriendFeed is a great product used by many friendly smart people.  The bad apples made this user take a step back.

The purpose of this post is to clear the air.  To rinse the bad feelings away.  I have been back to FriendFeed lately and find it relevant, fun, and just as lighthearted as I remembered.

FriendFeed is again the friendly place for news and information.  I will just remember to take off around August of an election year and return in December.

Merry Christmas and see you on FriendFeed!

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