FriendFeed is becoming less useful to me and it’s my fault. As i’ve written previously, people often ruin their own experiences and it’s up to good product design to help solve this challenge.
FriendFeed, like many new communication channels, was originally very high signal:noise — i tracked just a few of my friends and thus was always interested in checking out what they had posted, shared or favorited. Then i started adding more friends as people joined the service, in reciprocation to those subscribing to my thread and because FriendFeed released a “find your friends” tool. Whoom – much noise introduced. And FriendFeed exacerbated this by adding Friend of a Friend posts to my default view.
So as much as i love FF, i’ve already seen my usage patterns change. Now i’ve primarily turned it into EgoFeed where i check just my own feed to see if anyone has liked or commented on my items. My rate of looking at my friends has dropped dramatically.
What do i want? Better filters on my combined feed view. For example:
> allow me to only see Friend’s posts that were liked or commented by others or allow me to sort by this
> let me mute one of my friend’s services or a service in general – maybe i really don’t care about Picasa web albums for Friend X or Picasa web albums in general
> let me friend but not follow someone – i know this is totally counter to the whole purpose of FF, but it will allow me to remember that an acquaintance uses the service without adding them to my combined feed view
> let me turn off Friends of a Friend postings
This will be FriendFeed’s biggest challenge as they scale. Friend of friends is useful to me if I don’t have much else going on in my network, but just like Facebook, they’ll need to start ignoring updates even within your immediate network once you have a non-trivial number of friends.>>I think they can be smart about it without even needing you to explicitly specify who and what you want to hear about – if you comment or “like” a friend’s posted item, then prioritize that friend higher when it comes time to cut. If you never rate or “like” a friend’s items, then cut those items first – unless it has a high number of comments and/or “likes.”>>Even better: track clickthroughs as an indicator of interest in that friend.
I expected this from the beginning, and didn’t add most of the people who added me. I felt slightly bad, because it’s essentially telling my friends that they’re not my friends, but I picked only the ones that had useful feeds. I’m currently subscribed to 15 people, and around 100 people are subscribed to me. The useful feeds are the ones that aren’t overwhelming, have good signal to noise, and also important: don’t overlap much with other sources of information I have.
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