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Is FriendFeed Your New Home Page?

by Sachin Balagopalan on March 31, 2008 · Comments

One of the banes of having disparate social software systems is that all the popular services we typically use like Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook, Seesmic etc. to make our online presence known to our friends are decentralized. There is no data portability between these services (FaceBook is probably the closest ) and therefore you have to “goto” these various services to share your content, be it text, photos, videos etc. As these services become even more popular you find yourself logging into these different tools/apps typically grouped by media type, to post and share your content.

There has been a lot of chatter lately on the blogosphere about the concept of a “centralized me” versus the silo d approach . Instead of “popping” up everywhere the idea of a centralized place where the user can control ones social presence has been a hot topic, mainly fueled by the recent launch of FriendFeed. FriendFeed is a free service that lets you aggregate all the activity streams from the various services like Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc. The user also has the ability to post comments and add new content from within FriendFeed. It’s pretty cool and if you haven’t tried it out I strongly recommend it especially if you’re one of those people who is all over the social map.

Loic Le Meur has an interesting piece about the notion of a “centralized me”. Le Meur is a pretty smart guy and I usually pay close attention to what he has to say, but in this case I’m not sure what the point is. I mean I understand where he’s coming from - your blog is your personal space and I suppose it would be nice if all your services “resided” on your blog so your friends can subscribe to your blog as the central spot to share their media with you. You also have more control over the content I suppose but thats debatable. I think we’re being a little too literal here as far as this whole centralized vs decentralized thing is concerned. A site like FriendFeed IMO is sufficient enough for your average non-geek user. Who cares if it resides on a third party server or on your blog’s host service.

I totally agree that these various services need to be aggregated somehow simply from a convenience point of view and if a service like FriendFeed can gather all my services thats good enough for me. I’m not too concerned if it’s just a bunch of links behind all the fancy AJAX versus literally residing in your domain. I think the bigger issue is the fact that it’s high time these social networks talk to each other and that IMO will truly centralize things. For that to happen we need a standards based approach where reps from these various social networking sites sit down and hash out the policies and procedures. Once the data/content is portable then the user is free to choose their “centralized location” i.e if I want my Twitter, Flickr and YouTube content to be consumed from my WordPress blog I can do so. Until that happens FriendFeed will be my homepage.

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