Tag Archives: FriendFeed

Facebook, Friendfeed, the Real Time Stream, and RL

Today’s big news, in case you are — let’s just say — a surgeon in the operating room or the President in a Summit–is that Facebook acquired Friendfeed. I have several minor insights to contribute to the conversation about this:

1)Only the unemployed or underemployed even know about it yet, because they are the only people with the time to participate in the real time stream. The folks who spend their lives in corporate meetings, teaching children, or walking police beats probably will find out later. The real time stream is a nice idea, but there are entire days when I can’t dip my toe into it until dinner time. It is, therefore, of minimal utility to most people.

Today I happened to be down for routine maintenance (manicure, pedicure, hair colored) so I was available for the stream, which soon became a tsunami, to wash over me.

2)There has been a firestorm of sadness (what a mixed metaphor) from Friendfeed early adopters, and a mass of questions from pundits about what Facebook is going to “do” with Friendfeed.  Do They don’t know what they are going to do. They bought it because it was doing some things they felt were important and they either wanted to remove it deftly from the market or get a look at it up close and personal so they could knock off its features better.  Or both. But it’s like when you buy a sweater.  You think you know what you will wear it with, but it doesn’t become a worthwhile purchase until you find something absolutely unexpected in your closet that it updates and improves.

3) Or maybe they just wanted to make an acquisition, because they can. And because companies that make acquisitions get noticed by investment banks and maybe get to go public and cash out more early investors and employees.

4)At any rate, this is typical echo chamber news — fascinating to the people in Silicon Valley and of little consequence to global warming, health care reform, or Afghanisan. Or is it?  Can we use it to share breaking news? Naaaah, that”s Twitter. So what are these two platforms, now joined in unholy alliance, good for?

5)Community and conversation.  That’s what they have in common, how they differ from, and probably don’t even compete with, Twitter.  And that’s why they probably belong together.

Time to get the color rinsed out of my hair:-) The real time stream is the gray going down the drain and the blonde replacing it.

And boys, it’s only business.  Friendfeed wasn’t your baby. Get over it

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What We Did Before Home Entertainment Systems

Sometimes they gathered in each other’s homes and listened to music.
That’s why one genre of classical music is still called “chamber music.”
It was played in people’s living rooms, three or four instruments and a
small group of listeners.

A few friends and I had this magical, back to the future experience last
night as we listened to Tom Milsom, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from
London, who my old friend Michael Markman discovered on YouTube
and fell in love with. Milsom has “released” a
CD called Awkward Ballads for the Easily Pleased,” and he appeared at
my door with a keyboard and a ukelele to play for my guests.

Because Tom has had all the influences of the Internet, he knows
everything from the harpsichord to Tom Lehrer. He has a delightful wit,
and a transparency about revealing his personal experiences that comes
from the present generation’s casual relationship with privacy. When he
talks about being rejected, he’s not trying to make it more attractive,
he’s really telling it, tinkling piano keys and horrific emotions and
all. As he told us, he likes to write happy songs about sad subjects —
he has a song about the death of a lobster, one about abortion, several
about the girl who rejected him for a less perfect man. Oh, and he has
done a three-part requiem for a dead cat.

If you find these subjects offensive, I can only tell you that had you
been there, you wouldn’t have. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.

Milsom is touring the US, helped by his Twitter friends like @mickeleh.
Tom himself is @hexachordal. He’s been using Twitter as his main
marketing tool, although last night he got a good lecture from Robert
<a href=” “>Scobleand <a href=” “>Steve Gillmor,
who explained the virtues of <a href=” “>Friendfeed.
That’s where the conversation got
into the future of music, and how a musician finds an audience today.

On the Internet, of course. And how does he grow it past his own
friends? By entering the real time stream and going where the people are
who will appreciate him.

Although I had to forcibly eject my guests so I could go to bed (I
remember this from the past as well), as they went out the door they
were still talking about going where the “index” is, because in the
future, owning the index will be the replacement for having a record
label and being able to monetize your music. You will have to contact
@stevegillmor to find out what he means by that, because I didn’t hear
the end of the conversation — but it was a moment of extraordinary
mentoring for Tom, and an opportunity to amplify his signal virally (as
in, to people like those on this list, who probably don’t scan YouTube
for music videos from London).

Invest a few minutes with a set of good headphones listening to Tom’s
music. Share the delight I experienced last night. You missed the
conversation, but at least enjoy the music.

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The Conversation is on Facebook, Geeks!

I’m not an engineer, so my life is made up of individual datapoints, not formal tests. But last night I posted a link to a NY Times article on sub-prime mortages and loan modification scams to Twitter, so my friends there would see it. This morning, I awoke to six or seven email notifications on Facebook that my friends had been having a conversation about the article and the situation surrounding it while I blissfully slept. And all it was, was a link from Twitter that fed my Facebook status updates.

What amazed me wasn’t the number of comments, which certainly doesn’t equal what Scoble gets on his blog, or Leo LaPorte gets on his Friendfeed page. Rather, it was the depth and thoughtfulness of the conversation. People had taken the time to write long posts, and sometimes not even to me — to each other. People on FB actually still see each other’s streams.

Just last week, my brother, got into a similar discussion (read argument, as my bro is from New York) with some friends of mine about education after something I wrote in my FB notes. Again, people were wildly arguing with each other at great length.

Conclusion from these data points: the real conversation is where the real people are — on FB. More conversation is taking place than we geeks are aware of, and it is taking place where the barrier to entry is lowest: on the social network everyone is already on.

I have a larger number of FB friends than most people, and as a result the conversations come from all over. I’m beginning to find this more fun than Twitter, and more diverse than Friendfeed. And I just got a reply from Adam Glickman that he also finds his FB activity picking up.

Thoughts, folks?

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Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

No way. Social media has given me a platform on which to share my knowledge of things I care deeply about. Health care and the environment are two of those, and still another is the current economic crisis and how it is affecting me and my world. Without social media, I’d be in a far smaller community around these very troubling issues, and I could easily be very depressed.

Most people also think I care deeply about new technology, because I write so much about it. They’re wrong. I only care about technology to the extent that it enables a person like me, well-informed about things I care about, to offer some information to people who don’t have the time to acquire it first-hand, and to gain strength from others who have found ways to deal with problems I also have.

I start with Google Reader, through which I subscribe to a dozen trade journals and blogs each about health care, environmental issues, and economics. I also subscribe to tech journals and blogs, and to major news sources like the New York TImes, Wall Street Journal, and my local papers in Arizona and on the Coastside in northern California. I read about 1000 items a day, often just scanning to weed out repetition. I try to read several sides of controversial issues, so I know how the doctors, the insurance companies, the patients, and the IT people feel about health care. When something’s really good, I “share” it with other friends of mine who are on Google Reader.

But it doesn’t stop there. I want to discuss what I read with people who can either help me understand it, or tell people what I’ve found out. So I also maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter. On the latter, I maintain several accounts. One’s for general posts; another is @azentrepreneurs, and is specific to Arizona’s entrepreneurship community. Still a third is @ushealthcrisis, which a colleague and I use for our volunteer web site with health care reform information.

When, in the course of my day, I come across something that might help or interest one of these “constituencies,” I post a link or a mention to one of those accounts. Less important for general sharing, but very important for learning more, is Friendfeed, which aggregates the combined knowledge of many educated and intelligent friends and acquaintances of mine, often in extended conversations. Every so often, to spread news of professional opportunities and networking events, I’ll even use a status update on LinkedIn.

And oh yes, in addition to all this, I blog. That’s mainly a place to display my own thoughts and syntheses.

Do I tell people on Twitter what I had for breakfast? Never. Do I write about my personal problems? Only if they can be a metaphor or an example for other people’s experiences (like my effort to modify my mortgage loan). People who are not using social media always worry about lack of privacy. My theory? If you don’t want people on these platforms to know something, don’t tell them.

Now let me answer the questions I get asked all the time when I tell people what I’ve just written about.

"Wasting TIme on Social Media"How much time does this take every day? As much as I want it to take. If I’m very busy working, very little. On other days, or perhaps in the evening when there’s “nothing” on the 200 channels of digital TV in my home, several hours. It’s not a compulsion; it’s a pleasure. It makes me feel like 19th century people used to feel in a salon. Participation is a choice.

And what does it do for me?
It has introduced me to an entire new community of engaged, educated people who discuss the world. These people are located anywhere — Brazil, China, New York, India. It finds me friends, investments, and cousins I haven’t heard from in years. It increases the time I spend talking with my brother.

And last, but not least, it makes me money. It exposes me to the world and people can hire me to advise, to write, to teach. In other words, sometimes when you are useful, there’s a payoff:-) And no, I do not call myself a “social media guru.” I leave that for others.


Filed under Current Affairs, Daily Living, Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media

Community. It’s Everything

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Yesterday was a big day in the social media world, what with the launch of Friendfeed’s new beta in the morning and the recording of Gillmor Gang in the afternoon.It was an all-day community day for me, as I first joined my community in the morning to try the new interface and joined another community in the afternoon to listen to the opinions of friends about it and its chances against the other community platforms I use.

But the “meta” information from the day is more important than the actual discussions. The metadata tells me that the feeling of being linked to others of like mind is more powerful than jobs, economies, almost any competing activity. People up-end their lives to be part of these communities. People who are not really geeks, like my friend Michael Vandervert, a human resource specialist in Florida, are involved. Michael is a spiritual person who believes in the power of connections.

I can’t help drawing a parallel to my Blueprint for Survival workshops. The one coming up on April 20 filled up in two days. Why? Because when people lose their jobs they lose their communities, and if they don’t have these online platforms already in place, they’re stuck trying to figure out how to work LinkedIn.

LinkedIn, however, is not a true community, as Twitter is, or Friendfeed. Or even Facebook. If you lose your job, your wife, your 401(k) these communities offer empathy, help, alternatives. LinkedIn only offers a chance to do the “work” in networking. But what we really need is the “net” — the circle that draws us in so we don’t feel alone.

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RSS, Twitter, and Information Overload

I am not new to social media, having been in newsgroups and chat rooms since the early 90s. I’m also not new to information overload, as I’ve always been a news junkie and a voracious reader. But every once in a while, my life changes with respect to how I give and receive information, and because everyone online has been discussing the same subject recently, I was driven to self-contemplation. I’ve decided I have been on information overload and have instinctively found ways to deal with it, and I will bet you have, too. How much of the following sounds familiar?

1)I no longer feel compelled to read 1000 Google Reader posts a day. If I don’t read EVERY WORD of Andrew Sullivan, Tech Crunch, or Huffington Post, so be it. I read feeds early in the morning and late at night, or perhaps in a boring meeting, and that’s it. I subscribe to so many things that I always have more than 1000 unread items in Google Reader, and I’ve stopped caring. Every once in a while, I delete them. I read them from new to old, not from old to new like I used to. Why? Because the oldest ones will already have been replaced by some later news, typically. I feel like I’m not missing anything.

2)I also don’t sit on Tweetdeck or the Twitter site unless I have nothing better to do. Instead, I have Twhirl with about six open windows running on my desktop, either in a different space than my browser, or on my other monitor (depending on where I’m working). Although I sometimes use XMPP, I don’t read back through archived posts even though I can. When I feel like it, I say hello to peeps I haven’t seen in a while on Twitter and who roll by on their 140-character rafts . I click on links from friends of mine on Twitter whose judgment I trust or whose topics sound relevant to me. That probably replaces some of the feeds I used to read.

3) I dip my toe into conversations, but I never spend all day responding to someone who flames me. Twitter’s good for that, too –it’s really impossible to have a long conversation there. I could get lost on Friendfeed, but I limit my exposure.

4)I never buy a newspaper, although I read many excerpts from newspapers online. The better the site is, the more of it I read. I like the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and Businessweek. my hometown newspaper, the Arizona Republic, has a site I almost NEVER visit. I get most of my local news from TV by accident. I do think newspapers are important for some things, although breaking news seems to come more from Twitter and cable than from newsrooms of newspapers.

What’s good about newspapers? Opinion and investigative reporting. Opinion comes to me free all the time via the web. Investigative reporting I would support, as I support Spot.us. I pay for content in the Wall Street Journal, because it still symbolizes investigative journalism in the financial sphere to me. Perhaps Rupert Murdoch is changing that.

So newspapers in the traditional format are not sacrosanct, although news is. The old format aggregated many things now available elsewhere: classifieds, crossword puzzles, comics, sports scores, stock prices.

4) Online video has changed my TV habits. I no longer watch complete shows, or anything at the moment it is broadcast. I Tivo a lot less than I used to, because I can find the excerpt I really need to see somewhere online. TV, like Twitter and Google Reader, is a background to my life. I hardly can be said to concentrate on it either.

5)I read books on the Kindle, and have them downloaded to my iPod by Audible.com. I don’t buy them anymore, and I am slowly giving away my library. This despite the fact that I was a literature major and have a Ph.D. No one would call me illiterate.

My late husband, who died a scant dozen years ago, knew none of this. He would not recognize the way I live now. Am I living a richer, or a poorer intellectual life than I used to? Neither. It’s just different.

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