You no doubt heard the raves for FriendFeed in the last week, as the lifestreaming site opened up to the public and people quickly became addicted. As an early beta user, my addiction was broken somewhat with the public opening. The trickle of items became a torrent and, though I still check it multiple times daily, my explicit actions have slowed down. I’m only following 10 people at the moment and find it too much. (I can’t even fathom how Scoble is managing his 500+ streams.)
FriendFeed obviously hit a nerve, appealing to all the social junkies who had tired of visiting myriad sites every hour to plug into their networks. The market has been headed this way for a while; once social services expanded beyond Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, all bets were off. It was every user for themselves and woe to anyone who couldn’t maintain active personas across the board. In fact, back in March of 07, I predicted as much in a market analysis for The Guidewire Report.
…the verticalization of [social networking] will continue for the immediate future, until users reach a point of saturation and discover that they have run out of time with which to devote. It will be then that a new kind of… service/technology will need to step up, an aggregator of all our… content in one place. A master account…from which users can generate the content that feeds into the various and sundry vertical spaces…
That last sentence may be why users are beginning to struggle with FriendFeed. Maybe lifestreaming services are pointed in the wrong direction. Instead of feeding dozens and sometimes hundreds (competitor Profilactic has 135 services) of varied sites into an aggregator, why not reverse the feed and point the aggregator outward? Write your blog posts, add new media, post links and comment on items from one central site. Then your lifestreaming site plug-in blasts it all out to the hundreds of services. We already have favorite sites on which we spend most of our time – Facebook pages or personal blogs. Add FriendFeed as a plug-in to your favorite site and have it do all your socializing for you.
FriendFeed and Profilactic aren’t the only ones honing the lifestreaming model; for an excellent analysis check out Mark Krynsky’s Lifestream Comparison Matrix. Yahoo’s MyBlogLog just launched its entry into the space and iStalkr presents its lifestreams in a visually appealing timeline. And those are just the tip of the iceberg. The sector that set out to ease our social overload is already beginning to groan under its own weight. There is a very real, almost urgent, need for lifestreaming services. But perhaps we should stop and rethink the philosophy behind them before they become yet more noise in the social graph.