FriendFeed Wish List Q1 2009

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Time again for Techfluff.TV

I saw Paul Buchheit at the Crunchies and took the opportunity to buttonhole the FriendFeed co-founder about the usual subjects: Track, track, and realtime search. Basically, track. He told me a variation of what he’s posted on FriendFeed over the holidays, that once the team was back to work they would be prioritizing the next set of work to be done. Given the times they are a’changing and all, I thought I’d suggest a few directions while we wait for Track.

First, I’d like to fix what I’ll call the Chris Pirillo problem. Bear in mind that Chris is not the problem, but managing his feed is. He’s got a blizzard of streams aggregated under the Lockergnome banner, and while his coupon feeds are interesting at some meta level to me, they blast away significant portions of my realtime feed when they hit RSS. Today I took the draconian step of creating an Imaginary Chris Pirillo channel and populating it with Chris’s blog, Flickr, and delicious outputs.

What would be better would be a way to simply prune the feeds at the user level, perhaps giving Chris or his team a way to see what elements are seen by what subscribers. Or even a composite Imaginary and “real” spliced feed, where i could trim some nodes and perhaps add some new ones that are related to Chris but not specifically provided by him. I’m sure some of this capability is already available, but I haven’t had the time to watch Scoble’s FriendFeed for Dummies video.

Next, how about fixing the special box that pops up when I comment on one of my Twitter messages in its FriendFeed comment thread. The box says: “Also send this comment as an @reply twitter from stevegillmor – change user.” It’s usually a good idea, since I have enabled forwarding of all my comments and messages to Twitter, and I sometimes would like to specify the receiver though not always. However, if I select the check box, two messages are published to Twitter, one with and one without the @reply. If I could choose to send just the @reply version, it would make Twitter users happier.

I’d mention a realtime feed of a search, say on Gillmor in the Everyone firehose, but that’s Track or at least the first stage of it. Maybe if I suggest something even more complicated, Paul and Bret will decide to give me track as a way of shutting me up about the new request. OK, here goes: how about a mixing method where we can combine realtime Friend lists or rooms or both into composite realtime feeds. Let’s call it Imaginary Friend Lists or Imaginary Rooms.

Some blocking and tackling requests: can or will we be able to address comments via the realtime stream to specific comments? If so, will those comments be threaded (indented) in the Web interface, and will they be programatically marked as children of items so we can build our own UI via the APIs? This would completely open up the architecture and would not coincidently put significant pressure on Twitter to provide unique services that only it can provide – yes, Track.*

I’ll stop here so that more requests can be added n the comments here and on FriendFeed. Looking forward to moving even more of my micromessaging pursuits into the FriendFeed Borg.

* I saw Twitter CEO Evan Williams at lunch this weekend and he mentioned Twitter search would be fully integrated with the site in the next several weeks. Track? Still not scalable.

  • Richard Carter, FCD (@gruts)

    One bug I wish they would fix: if you set up a live-feed room with multiple contributors, every different Twitter feed into it is simply labelled ‘Twitter’. We need to see the user names to know who is saying what.

  • Jon Maddox

    Steve, have you not found Summizer yet? I thought by now you might have. I built it just for people bitter about track being missing. I think you might find it a great solution.

  • Jon Maddox

    ohhhh, what a terrible plug, forgot the url

  • Jon Maddox

    wow. what a failure.

  • Thomas Whitney

    Twitter is probably to date the grand dame of social networking tools. I am waiting to embrace it when they upgrade their digital security. Not far off but it’s something that certainly needs to shift. Lest we get sloppy.

    • Alex Schleber

      Don’t wait to embrace it when they get everything right, by then it will be too late (and they’ll likely never get everything straightened out anyway).

      If you run a clean account that also forwards into some third-party receptacles like FriendFeed and/or your own email client for archiving, I’d say that you are good to go as far as safety and not giving over your stuff to Twitter (only) irretrievably.

      The power comes from plugging a number of these services together and thereby “syndicating” everything you do, make one action count for multiple results. Twitter is the great “Swiss Army Knife”-like conduit of social media at this point.

  • Alex Schleber

    @Jon – that looks like a pretty cool iPhone app you’ve created there. Any plans for a desktop client?

    BTW, plugging on a Gillmore post guarantees that not too many TC readers will see it… even though I tend to like his stuff, most seem to complain about Steve’s “academic” style… :)

    Also, seeing your use of the Twitter search feed embed at the bottom of your page, why does Twitter not have a well-formatted embed, with embed code provided off of the search results page, the way that FriendFeed has?

    (Does FF have to do everything for them? It’s silly to first have to create a FF Room to import a Twitter search into and then embed just to get some decent – but not ideal – formatting that also loses Twitter branding, etc.)

    @Steve – I am with you all the way about the Track feature badly missing from Twitter, sad to hear that they still won’t bring it back. In the meantime my workaround has been to create the “track” searches I wanted on and then set them up in my Thunderbird email client. That way at least it’s there with other push/interruption stuff.

    Really I would say that Twitter needs something like Track++, mainly the ability to address user groups (like one’s followee and follower lists). Also, having just used TwitterGrader for the first time, the amount of intelligent info that that service is able to draw from Twitter in a flash and then present nicely really puts to shame the way that Twitter is letting its own native user/Followee/Follower handling lay fallow and largely useless (e.g. why can’t I do a search for all of my followers who have ever talked about keyword “XYZ”?).

    It’s beyond bad, and subgroups as can be created on FriendFeed (which can then sort of act as a workaround for Twitter, provided that you can get all your Twitter peeps onto the other service) are long overdue as well.

    Twitter needs to get off of its laurels, else everything useful (and potentially profitable) to be done with it will have been done by third parties.

  • Eddie LeBreton

    The pruning idea is definitely on my wish list, too.

    Another wish: Allow me to set a preference for my services when FF aggregates duplicate posts. For example, I send a picture to Flickr that’s also posted to Twitter via Dave Winer’s Flickr-to-Twitter. Sometimes FF will display the tweet and hide the image, while other times it will display the image and hide the tweet. I’d prefer the latter always and would like the option to set a service pecking when displaying duplications. This happens for blog posts sent via twitterfeed as well.

    Not a major gripe but a pet peeve of mine, for sure.

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