FriendFeed Marshall McLuhan (a Canadian) coined the phrase "the medium is the message" to describe that the profound impact of television and other media on society was more important than the impact of the content itself.  Recently, a lot of discussion has been taking place about FriendFeed‘s noise versus its signal.  I contend that the impact that FriendFeed has on the Social Web is greater than that of the content it aggregates.  Excuse me as I coyly coin the phrase: “FriendFeed is the signal.”

The Change in Community Interaction

FriendFeed is changing the way bloggers and readers of blogs interact with each other.  This phenomenon, recently named Blogging 2.0, is becoming more and more widely accepted; however, there are some who choose to remain in Blogging 1.0. Just last night there was a discussion on where the conversations should take place and whether or not the blogger should have control over them, as summarized by Colin WalkerDistributed conversations are here to stay and FriendFeed is the big culprit.  All content aggregated into FriendFeed can be "liked" or commented on by users with a simple click, compared to the regular blog post system of commenting where a user must Enter Name, Enter Email, and Enter Website to leave a comment.  Users have to then return to the post to see other comments and possibly repeat the process again.

This is not only true for blogs, FriendFeed also affects interactions with other media such as photos and video, albeit less dramatically. The sharing of images and videos are all on the rise due to the increased “favouriting” of Flickr photos and YouTube videos and use of the FriendFeed bookmarklet. While the “favourite” function has pre-existed in Flickr and YouTube, FriendFeed spreads the reach of this content on a much higher level.

The "Global Village"

FriendFeed nurtures what McLuhan called the "global village", or what Robert Scoble calls, "The Worldwide Talk Show".  It’s where everyone from everywhere can participate in the conversation and make it visible to everyone else.  FriendFeed allows your commented-on content to be shown to others in your network, whose commented and liked stories are made visible to others in their network…etc.  FriendFeed has allowed me to be influenced by a wide variety of people, and vice versa, in a way that not even Twitter has allowed.

The Bottom Line

Eventually, I believe the business models around Blogging 2.0 will have to change.  I posed this question on Duncan Riley’s post Blogging 2.0 and Professional Blogging:

Blogging 2.0 

Duncan has addressed this in a recent post about Blogging 2.0 and Advertising.  He states that for the most part the Blogging 1.0 ad models are still around; however, he expects more Blogging 2.0 solutions to emerge this year.

Lindsay Donaghe has a great post about the future of FriendFeed as an intelligent agent and recommendation engine and suggests it could work with a Squidoo-like business model behind it.

What do you think?  What other potential effects will FriendFeed have? What advertising models can work in this new landscape?

  • Good post, Shey. I like this point: “FriendFeed has allowed me to be influenced by a wide variety of people, and vice versa, in a way that not even Twitter has allowed.” I would also have to say it’s allowed you to influence others in a way that isn’t very easy or effective in other services as well.

    I think the Friend of a Friend thing has a lot to do with it because it lets you expand your network without having to do a lot of effort yourself. Twitter and most strict follower/followee models don’t really provide that. If you’re not being followed you’re not being heard. FriendFeed lets your direct followers and all their followers know what you think is important. It’s exponential exposure.

  • Thanks Lindsay, yes that’s what I meant, it’s vice versa.

    I agree, FriendFeed allows your network to expand exponentially with each interaction. It’s no longer just a one-to-many relationship, it’s more like one-to-many-to-many.

  • FriendFeed Comments plugin not working — waiting to hear back from Glenn on this

  • I laughed when I saw your comment form above for FF which asks for username, API Key, etc.

    One thing that came to mind as I read this is “what happens when comment spam hits FriendFeed?” It will, inevitably. There are certainly things I like on FF, but it has a long way to go…

  • Many are wanting a block feature in FF. But at least the owner of the thread can moderate any comment in the discussion

  • Hutch Carpenter

    Good point about how FriendFeed allows everyone to participate. I’ve had more interactions with well-known bloggers there than I’d probably ever have elsewhere. Right now, it feels very open and democratic. Hopefully that lasts.

  • I’ve noticed that as well on FriendFeed. Twitter, not so much — it’s a big popularity contest over there and the snobbery is all around.

  • Julian Baldwin

    Nice post Shey and a lot of good points. The business models will definitely need to change and I think as the web evolves they will continue to change in a way that seems expected and almost routine. As more people become active around the web more ideas will be shared and there will always be a surplus of new possible services waiting for someone to push them forward. Our social dynamics will evolve and need to adapt to larger and larger audiences over time. It should be interesting to watch and I might continue this thought in an upcoming post.

  • I have an observation about this too. When I was using Twitter almost exclusively, I had gotten used to people (especially somewhat popular people) simply never replying to tweets that I directed toward them. At the time, it didn’t bother me.

    After I had gotten used to the friendly atmosphere on FriendFeed, though, and switched back to Twitter for a day, it was definitely more noticeable when I would tweet a question or comment and get no response.

  • Absolutely, that’s happened to me as well. Twitter is on and off, sometimes people want to converse, sometimes they don’t

  • Now that I think about it, this happens on FriendFeed too. But the key difference is, on FF there are always conversations literally popping up all the time. So if someone comments on a post and it goes un-noticed for a while, it’s not the end of the world. When the author or someone else notices, that conversation re-appears.

    In Twitter, it’s a huge mash of different conversations, like a crowded room, which forces you to pay attention to certain threads. If one of those threads languishes, you notice.

    The key difference is this: In Twitter, you search for conversations. In FriendFeed, properly tweaked, the conversations come to you.

  • I agree, ironically that just happened with this blog entry on FF:

  • kenmat

    It’s interesting to see two different comments flow on this same post. One on friendfeed (… ) and another on DISQUS (… ). I definitely enjoy both of them. Thanks, shey!

  • Pingback: The Case For Distributed Conversations | introspective snapshots()

  • Tyler

    says username and api key don’t match when i try FF wordpress plugin??!

  • No problem Kenichi 🙂