By gum, I think I’ve got it. My post yesterday on breaking out of our insular tech bubble to evangelize to the mass consumer spurred a good discussion on FriendFeed. There was much agreement around the idea that sharing all these neat Internet tools with mass consumers is needed. But how to do that? There were a couple of angles to the conversation: one, how to share our general insider knowledge with consumers and two, how to get people involved in FriendFeed specifically. Clare Dibble made a good point regarding the latter; that non-techies don’t have to sign up for the myriad services on FriendFeed to delve into the site. Simply by adding the FriendFeed share button to their browsers, they can start submitting interesting articles and watch the conversations ensue.
It was then that the light bulb went off. FriendFeed is the gateway to Web 2.0 for mass consumers. It’s incredibly easy to jump into, easy to navigate and easy to participate; not many people have a hard time figuring out what the “comment” button means. It’s also the rarest of services, in which it doesn’t take long to get the draw. Spend two hours in there and you’re hooked. There are a couple of ways FriendFeed could roll out to consumers. Introduce FriendFeed as a way to share and discuss articles with your friends and find the good stuff from people you trust. Once consumers dip their toes in, have a taste of the recommended friends feature and see the tangential relationships that form, they’ll start exploring the other applications that pop up. “What’s this Last.fm service? What are these little 140-character sentences I keep seeing? Who the hell is Robert Scoble?” You get the idea. Honestly, it’s like a gateway drug. Draw them in with something harmless and easy to understand, then watch them drift toward the hard stuff. I’ll stop that analogy there before it goes any further.
Another option would be to offer first-timers a bundled package of services from which to start. If you’re a media buff, here’s YouTube, Netflix, Last.fm, and Pandora to get you started. Or even bundled packages of friends – FriendFeed old-timers that wouldn’t mind being followed by strangers. Want a tech infusion? Here’s Robert Scoble and Mark Hopkins. Looking for music lovers? Try Jonathan Coulton and Fred Wilson. I know my friend Shellee trolled the Everyone tab to find fellow politicos; wouldn’t it have been great to offer her a ready-made feed?
The question of how to share general emerging tech knowledge with a larger audience needs more discussion and thought. It’s something those of us on the inside need to be continually pondering. But perhaps a good first step lies in sharing easy-to-grasp products that can have a positive effect on people’s lives, without submersing them in the intricacies of one hundred different services.