Editorial: Social network plumbing

I guess it is no secret to anyone that Facebook as agreed to acquire FriendFeed. Several people seem puzzled why I left FriendFeed only 3 hours after learning this news. I can understand that this may look like a knee-jerk reaction, but there is logic behind the madness.

The truths is that my existing setup of Web 2.0 services was not working nearly as well as I would like. The sheer amount of content being shared on FriendFeed meant that it was easy to overlook a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, for which reason I still subscribed to their blogs as RSS feeds. This caused me to waste time because the same posts appear in two place, and I could not filter out the blogs on FriendFeed because most comments would be posted there and not on the blogs. Receiving everyone’s tweets on FriendFeed tended to create a background noise that would drown all other conversation; however, I could also not filter out the Twitter streams on FriendFeed and follow people directly on Twitter instead because many cross-post all their FriendFeed “likes” and/or comments to Twitter!

Given the new situation, it was clear to me that the time had come to fix my broken social network setup and redo the plumbing in such a way that FriendFeed would no longer be responsible for gathering most of the content. Looking at FriendFeed, I discovered that most of the content of interest originated from just three sources: RSS feeds of blogs, Google Reader shared items, and Twitter. By following people directly on Google Reader and Twitter, both of which I was already using on a daily basis, I was thus able to relegate FriendFeed to a much less important role. I still feed my content from other sources into FriendFeed and I occasionally check for comments on my posts; however, it is no longer where I read content posted by others. Coincidentally, the new role of FriendFeed is almost identical to the role that Facebook has played all along.

To make a long story short, I’m not leaving the friendly community at FriendFeed in anger. I still read the content produced and shared by the same people as before. I have just fixed the plumbing.

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