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FriendFeed

Friendfeed is Facebook's Real Time Search?

Facebook today announced an acquisition of Friendfeed - getting an innovative, growing service (still small by Facebook standards: 1m users vs. Facebook's 250m) and, by all accounts, an exceptional team (comprised of ex-Googlers).

The twitter and blogosphere almost immediately and universally labeled the deal a talent acquisition. And while Facebook has indeed acquired a talented team (planning to disperse them through the organization), they also got two important product enhancements: real time search and filtering. I've said several times that I believe the next major progression for the real-time web is the ability for users to search, filter and determine authority / relevance. This is one of Friendfeed's strengths. And it is an area where they can instantly help Facebook - with thinking, product, data, etc. If the social web is (at least in part) predicated on conversation, the acquisition will help facilitate discussion by reducing noise and increasing relevancy. And if revenue opportunities exist within those conversations (just ask Starbucks and other active brands), search and filtering will play a role on the advertising and data side.

The Real-Time Web, Authority Filtering & CrunchUp Themes

Yesterday TechCrunch put on the "Real-Time CrunchUp" event to discuss what has been billed as the real-time web. Alongside several product demos and company launches, the most prominent discussion topics were: - Business models and opportunities (Ron Conway provided his ten ideas)

- Businesses vs. Features: are these products able to sustain themselves as companies or are they features within larger companies

- Is the real-time web just beginning or is the lifecycle relatively advanced? And what does this mean for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other big company's abilities to compete?

- Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Friendfeed and what each mean for openness, competition, user experience and, ultimately, the consumer

- Noise. A theme I have written much about: the real-time web is overwhelming. How do we filter the noise to arrive at what is most important and relevant. And does filtering mean that the web is no-longer real time? The last theme (noise) is most important to me because, as the real-time web becomes more popular (and it will), it becomes increasingly difficult to digest and decipher. This is where Facebook will have a major advantage (using the social graph and 'like' / commenting systems). It is also where Friendfeed has already done a great job by using activity, relevancy, social connections, etc to deliver the news that it considers most important:

friendfeed-realtime-web

Other companies that are well-positioned here (and that I have covered; click for coverage): - Tweetmeme - Bitly - Aardvark

And proof that filtering is especially critical for Twitter - even if, as many of the CrunchUp panelists argued, it delays the immediacy of the real-time web: beside the live-stream of the CrunchUp final panel was a Twitter widget displaying 'relevant' tweets (defined by hashtags). Spammers quickly and repeated followed. I added the below screenshot and blocked out the very graphic user icon:

Bit.ly Adds 'Pass Through' Metrics - Hugely Valuable

I have written before that data around referral traffic could be a business model for both Twitter and Friendfeed. And as Twitter's growth accelerates, I believe this more than when I wrote the article one year ago. In fact, it is the reason that Bit.ly surpassed TinyURL so quickly: data. Bit.ly always provided metrics around clickthroughs - which proves to be a difficult measurement within Google Analytics (battle between referral traffic, direct traffic and the increasing usage of apps like Seesmic).

bitly-stats

Tonight I noticed what appears to be a new set of metrics from Bit.ly: direct clicks and total clicks (what I am referring to as "pass throughs"). Retweet is a phenomenon on Twitter - but measurement is difficult because most people retweet with their own encoded URLs... consequently muddying the data and only representing a portion of the traffic. It is still incomplete data because it appears that Bit.ly is aggregating data based on the landing URL and it thus only represents activity for Bit.ly-encoded URLs... nevertheless, it is valuable for marketers in understanding the virality of shared content.

I still believe that richer analytics are valuable enough for marketers (who represent much of Twitter's activity) to represent a real subscription service... just look at how much businesses and marketers spend on sites like LinkedIn. Perhaps that means that Twitter acquires Bit.ly and expands on the analytics offering; or, perhaps it means that Twitter creates a service internally.

13 iPhone Apps I Want Developed (Google, ESPN, FriendFeed)

Enter email address to subscribe via email:

1. GMail The improved Gmail iPhone site is just that: improved. But a true GMail iPhone App would allow fuller cusotmizations, run faster, better integrate calendars and contacts... and soon utilize the new push notification systems of iPhone 3.0.

2. Google Reader / RSS I use my iPhone as much for email as I do for content consumption. A Google Reader App would instantly be my starting point for iPhone-based web browsing. It would also increase my activity on Reader - particularly the social aspects (sharing, commenting, etc).

3. AdWords / AdSense Ever been without a computer and needed data associated with AdWords or AdSense? Happens to me all the time... Better yet, the ability to lightly manage campaigns (particularly with AdWords).

4. Facebook Connect + iTunes & App Store This is a pipe dream, but I would love an Apple built app that, via Facebook Connect, created personalized histories and storefronts for iTunes and the App Store. I find both stores increasingly unusable due to the overwhelming inventory... Facebook Connect is the solution.

5. ESPN Fantasy Is there a better use case for an iPhone App? Fantasy sports require on-demand knowledge and management. Fantasy sports players would never put their iPhone down again. 6. FriendFeed Perhaps this would be solved for me by a Google Reader App... but FriendFeed would provide more social functionality and would certainly make me a more loyal, active user.

7. Techmeme I visit Techmeme daily. It is particularly difficult to navigate on the iPhone. A simple iPhone App would make the on-Techmeme / off-Techmeme navigation more efficient. It would also allow for history and search functionality.

8. Starbucks I drink a lot of coffee and use a lot of Starbucks' free wifi. Some sort of location finding application that provided coupons and incentives would be very appetizing.

9. MLB.TV MLB.tv is my favorite product of 2009: amazing HD streaming quality with every conceivable feature request (fantasy tracking, four-game split screens, DVR controls, etc). I would pay an additional $10-$20 to get the streaming on my iPhone (when 3.0 arrives).

10. Google Analytics Makes total sense. All I need is basic statistics.

11. Aardvark I love Aardvark... but my most frequent use-case is when I am away from my computer. With an iPhone App, I would use Aardvark far more routinely and it would be my Q&A service of choice (perhaps replacing Yelp and others on mobile).

12. Wordpress.org To the best of my knowledge, there is not an equivalent of the great Wordpress.com iPhone App for blogs running Wordpress.org... if there is, please let me know. If there isn't, please build it.

13. USPS Tracking The FedEx App is terrific and solves a big need - and with 3.0 it will be even better. I would love the same for USPS (but certainly do not expect this to be built!).

Introducing TechNews (http://news.ryanspoon.com)

Introducing http://news.ryanspoon.com - I encourage you to test it out! About a year ago, I weened myself off of Digg (at least partially) and moved onto Hacker News. Hacker News is the best mix of technology content - from headlines to analysis to discussion.

After sifting through various services, I found SlinkSet (also a YCombinator company). Uninterested in creating a Hacker News clone or competitor, I was intrigued by the ability to 'remix' my own favorite feeds along with articles submitted by friends and readers:

Tech News SlinkSet

It is an interesting way, if you will, to create your own 'distributed feed' (ala Facebook or Friendfeed - but without the direct network). Using SlinkSet's private mode, it is also a way to communicate with a distribution list.

SlinkSet is simple and a free service. My only critique is that it is based on iframes and consequently is not as flexible as you would like (in addition to being an SEO killer). It would be powerful to either

1. open the code (like Pligg or Wordpress) and allow users to develop against it, and/or 2. create a subscription version that allows further customization

Also worth noting, SlinkSet's custom service is terrific. They have converted an installation of SlinkSet into a feedback 'wall' and the founders interact ther directly with the users. Really a terrific example of what SlinkSet can be used for and how to interact with your userbase.

Facebook is Gunning for Twitter & FriendFeed - I Might be Converting

I love Twitter. I've come to love FriendFeed. And I really love my new iPhone 3G. And I've never been a huge Facebook user.

All of these come together thanks to Apple and my new iPhone. After installing the Facebook App (which now has 1,000,000+ unique users by the way), I've slowly become more attracted to the Facebook Feed updater than to the Twitterific App. I still don't fully understand why, but I do understand the three following points:

1) My network seems to be updating their stream more regularly through Facebook than through Twitter 2) I actually know all of the users of who can access my Facebook feed (though I am not sure this is a positive!) 3) I am too lazy to update both Twitter *and* Facebook

And while I love Twitter, my network seems to prefer Facebook... which by definition would drive me towards sending my content into Facebook rather than Twitter. The direct feedback and traffic through Twitter, however, is more significant than through Facebook - and that means quite a bit (selfishly) as a blogger and a networker.

I am not sure where this will lead for me - but I do know that I am consequently spending more time on Facebook (via the iPhone App) than on Twitter.... I'm also not sure if this is permanent or a temporal iPhone fascination.

Facebook iPhone App

I'm Reinstalling Disqus - Two Months After Turning Disqus Off

Two months ago, I wrote this blog's most read article: After 5 Days on Disqus, I’m Turning Back to WordPress Comments. The quick, controversial summary is that I installed Disqus and, after concerns of not being able to fully leverage that content for SEO and on my own site, I reverted back to the standard Wordpress comment system. Apparently I wasn't the only blogger struggling with whether this issue - the comment debate was rich and included prominent bloggers, Fred Wilson (a Disqus investor) and even Daniel Ha (Disqus' CEO). I concluded that post with the following:

I think Disqus is close. And I expect that I’ll give it another test-drive shortly. But it’s going to take some additional benefits as a blogger (I clearly see the benefits as a reader); and as I think about services I’m willing to pay, perhaps that’s the solution for Disqus: offer premium accounts. I’d be willing to buy that.





Well, I've concluded that it's time to "give it another test-drive" and here is why: 1A. I have become a more engaged, excited FriendFeed user. This is important because, while I still struggle with the SEO fact, it could be argued that a moderate-to-highly trafficked blog will see greater traffic gains through Disqus' FriendFeed integration than through the incremental SEO benefits of the comments. Outside of selfish traffic reasons, following my readers through FriendFeed (via Disqus) is a great, interesting benefit... which leads to:

1B. I've become more interested in discussion and interaction than in absolute pageviews. Obviously, traffic and discussion are correlated, but I'm hoping that both grow with Disqus (and at the very least, that discussion grows).

2. I believe that Disqus will solve the SEO piece ... And hopefully not in a super-technical, API-only way...!). I also assume that Disqus is actively working to fix this.

3. On the same note, I am not sure that WordPress is actively working on a Disqus-like product ... And at this point, that is likely the only solution that I would give preference to.

4. I really respect the way that Disqus reached out directly to me via the blog and email and offered assistance. I am always willing to give my support to products and people who I feel connected with - and Disqus has been great

5. Frankly, I am jealous of other sites that have implemented Disqus. I know many of my readers and commenters have Disqus accounts and I am hoping that they will be more motivated to interact when Disqus is live. I love Fred Wilson's blog and make it a daily read over my morning coffee... but the community he has built and the commenting that exists there is some of the web's richest content.

And with that - Disqus is live... hopefully to stay! I have more work to do on the blog (when not swimming Alcatraz) this weekend, primarily migrating to the newest WordPress version so that I can use the iPhone App.

Selfishly, I'm Glad Jason Calacanis 'Retired' From Blogging

About a week ago, web 2.0 celebrity / guru Jason Calacanis "officially" announced his retirement from blogging. Most of the blogosphere reaction was that the supposed retirement was either a hoax or a ploy to generate Mahalo buzz:

Starting today all of my thoughts will be reserved for a new medium. Something smaller, something more intimate, and something very personal: an email list. Today the email list has about 600 members, I'm going to cut it off when it reaches 750. Frankly, that's enough more than enough people to have a conversation with. I'm going to try and build a deeper relationship with fewer people--try to get back to my roots.

I found it a little strange that Jason would retire from blogging (despite remaining so active via Twitter, FriendFeed, email and so forth)... but he's really wow'ed me with the quality of content that he's published via the email DL. In a few days, he's delivered rich, thoughtful analysis and news:

- The Fallout (from the load out - How to Generate Feedback for Your Startup (three simple ideas) - How to host an amazing conference - The Dark Knight Reviewed - Quick hits: Party tonight in Santa Monica

If Jason retired in part from blogging to lighten his work load (blogging is hard work)... I think he may have to slow down on the emails. He's now delivered an article a day and each is very good and very lengthy - so he's setting some high expectations!

The "How to generate feedback for your startup" newsletter is nearly 2,000 words (though 1,000 or so are selected user comments) and there aren't many better people to learn scrappy, web 2.0 marketing tips from.

I enjoyed reading Jason's blog... but I'm selfishly enjoying these emails (and the user responses) more.

The Evolution of Social Content: From Email to Blogs to Disqus / FriendFeed

Fred Wilson's last two blog posts are about the changing / evolving blog landscape: 1) the death of "long form blogging" (ironic) 2) the evolution of blog commenting and how comments are becoming as important as the posts

I found the first post particularly thought provoking:

I've posted every day for almost five years. Its a routine and a habit that's hard to break But today, I've got nothing to say that's blog worthy I've twittered six or seven times and posted three times on tumblr I think its time to acknowledge that long form blogging every day may be coming to an end

I certainly agree that blogs are changing and the distributed, social content landscape has made 'short form' discussion easier and more effective. That said, I think everything serves a different purpose: long form blogging is the table at which the conversations occur, introductions are made and meals are enjoyed. Fred might not have considered the above post "blog worthy" - but he still found value in posting it and 29 readers found it engaging enough to comment. Those comments were likely shared via Twitter, FriendFeed and email...

To me, the most important evolution of social content is that we are now empowered to produce and consume in a variety of formats and platforms... and I find that choice and distribution open me to new relationships and new content. Proof enough is that much of my richest dialog is still through email. Email continues to be a great source of recommended reading and intense discussion. If email is closed discussion, blogging is one-to-many discussion and services like Disqus, Twitter and FriendFeed are opening those discussions further.