So far we have Twitter, Flickr and possibly Audioboo. We could add more services like delicious or Zotero in the future, but we’re getting messy. How can you pull them all together? The answer is Friendfeed. I found Friendfeed easier to understand than Twitter, but I’m told I’m in a minority, so I’ll try and take it slowly.
If you sign in to Friendfeed you can then sign in to all your other online services. Friendfeed then pulls together a page of the latest things you’ve been posting around the web. So in my case if I comment on AJCann’s weblog, which uses Disqus for comments, those comments will appear in my Friendfeed stream. That’s because I’ve told Friendfeed where to find my Disqus account. It’s a bit like a collation of what you do on the social side of the internet. Like a lot of social things it gets more interesting when you add people.
If you have a Friendfeed account you can go to my page, subscribe, and you’ll see what I’m up to on your page. Do that with several friends and it starts to look like the social web in one convenient location. You won’t just see our tweets, you’ll see photos, blog posts and many other things. You can also add unsupported sites if they have an RSS feed, because Friendfeed can read RSS. This is how Friendfeed knows what’s in my Cite-U-Like account, and when I get around to tackling Zotero properly to store my references, it’ll be able to handle that too.
On top of that, each entry on Friendfeed is open to be commented on or ‘liked’. Commenting is fairly obvious, but like is more ambiguous. If you ‘like’ something you’re merely drawing attention to it, so that other people following your stream can see it. For instance if Bora Zivkovic mentions a natural disaster, clicking ‘like’ just means that I think it’s important. Sadly the Friendfeed interface is poorly designed here, because if someone put up the message “OMG! An asteroid hit Essex and wiped out Basildon” and I thought it was important, my response would look like:
You can add comments, like Twitter. You can also add links easily through a bookmarklet. You can also set up forums for discussion using the rooms or groups feature. One of the feeds I’ve added to the right is a list of what’s recently been added to the Archaeology group. Like Flickr, I would have thought it would be useful for a scholarly society, because you could make the feed public, but limit the ability to post and thus publicise your own work, to society members. Like Flickr, I’ve probably overlooked some very basic point about scholarly societies.
You can follow me at http://friendfeed.com/alun. If you sign up to the site leave your usename below and people will be able to follow you.