The blog world is atwitter (pun intended) today over FriendFeed. TechCrunch’s Duncan Riley had the nerve to say, “I don’t get it” and the chorus of boos was swift. Louis Gray, an early adopter and rabid proponent of FriendFeed, said Riley missed the point by only giving the service the most cursory of glances.
I’ve written before of my love of FriendFeed and still stand by that. But I think the company and its faithful fan base should absorb opinions like Duncan’s rather than discard them as those of the lazy and/or uninformed. What got me thinking on this was a similar situation with Twine earlier in the week . A negative review of Twine by Marshall Kirkpatrick received all manner of response, both in the Twine app and in the comments to his post, one of which was mine. Marshall made some excellent points about the nascence of the app and how much needed to be improved upon, just as Duncan brought up very real issues with FriendFeed. What interests me is not the specific criticisms but the manner in which they were received. Fervent fans reacted quickly, in essence saying “how dare you” and “you just don’t get it” to the critics. The problem with such reactions is that they bypass the usability issues and tech hurdles that need to be addressed. Radar Networks’ Senior Architect Peter Royal had a smart reaction to Marshall:
He describes a user’s experience if they show up in twine with no hand-holding. it clearly illustrates things we need to focus on from a user point-of-view.
The word “beta” has lost much of its meaning in Web 2.0, but at its essence is user criticism and vitally necessary feedback. Resounding praise isn’t of much use to emerging technology. It’s nice to hear, of course, and validation confirms that the developers are on the right track. But companies should start responding to “I don’t get it” with “What are we doing wrong?” The ensuing conversations will likely be far more productive for both sides.