I'm Sorry Robert, But It's Time For A Friendfeed Intervention

I’m a big champion of services like Twitter and the newer Friendfeed (can you believe Friendfeed is less than a year old?). But there’s a difference between liking a service and having an addiction. Robert Scoble crossed that line, and I believe he’s asking for help.

I spoke to Robert for a few minutes at the Le Web conference a couple of weeks ago. I said “You sure do like Twitter and Friendfeed.” His response – “Yeah, but I wonder if that was such a smart investment of my time.”

This isn’t the first time Robert has questioned whether he’s wasting his time on those services. On November 18 he wrote (on Friendfeed) “I invested a lot of time this year in FriendFeed and Twitter instead of my blog. Was that the right decision?”

I asked Robert how much time he actually spends on those services. He monitors them all day, he said, hitting refresh over and over on both (he doesn’t use desktop clients to manage the services, and he says he doesn’t like real-time streaming feature on Friendfeed). In addition to watching all day, he says he spends at least seven hours a day, seven days a week, actually reading and responding directly on those services.

That’s 2,555 hours over the last year.

Which is more than a full time job (2,000 hours/year).

It is more than 106 full 24 hour days interacting with those services in aggregate.

It is an addiction.

What is the cost of this addiction? Well, I’ll put his family life aside, that’s his business. But his blog has clearly suffered. He now posts only a few times a week, sometimes sporadically writing multiple posts in a day but often skipping 3-4 days in between. A year ago, Robert wrote multiple posts, every day. I used to read his blog daily, now I visit once a week.

“Some people tell me my thought leadership has declined as I’ve blogged less.”

What has he gained? On Twitter Robert has nearly 45,000 followers and has written over 16,000 messages. On Friendfeed Robert has nearly 23,000 subscribers.

So lots of people follow Robert on those services, but they aren’t visiting his site and the content he writes is on someone else’s server. Plus all that content is just really forgettable, compared to a good thought piece that people refer back to over time. There is no direct way to monetize any of that content, which is something that a full time blogger with a family really needs to think about.

Meanwhile, all this attention from Robert has certainly helped the valuations of Friendfeed and Twitter. How much of that value does Robert receive? Zilch.

So Robert has spent 2,555 hours spent reading tens out thousands of mostly inane Twitter and Friendfeed messages, and has written a few thousand messages of his own. Meanwhile, we as a community lost the regularly entertaining and thoughtful posts of a great writer.

Like I said, it’s time for an intervention. I want Scobleizer back.