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  • mono 6:39 pm on May 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aggregation, Aggregator, , Business and Economy, FriendFeed, , Lifestream, , , Network, Sharing, , Social Networking Service, System, , , Web search engine   

    Friendfeed Through a Systems Looking Glass: Feeding the Beast 

    love

    The following is a systems approach to the increasingly popular website Friendfeed. Recently, there have been many articles written about this site (I will provide links at the end of this post). I have written what follows through a Media Ecology systems framework with the hopes of “fleshing out” the system known as “Friendfeed.” The inspiration from this piece comes from various writings by Neil Postman.

    Where Lies The Purpose

    The purposes of Friendfeed are to accumulate and aggregate shared content from different social media websites. In turn, the aggregated content can then be re-shared, commented upon and “liked.” One can find purposes in this such as tracking brand popularity and public opinion, finding other relevant sources that may relate to content that you like or creating a network of information (a “feed”) as deemed relevant by certain “friends” that you subscribe to. Also, there is the purpose of oneself pushing likable or relevant content into the stream.

    The Roles

    People are assigned the role of “feeder” and “subscriber.” If one achieves a large amount of subscribers, then one’s shared content will potentially reach more people, which then could possibly be fed again back into the system creating a ripple effect of information flow. Subscribing to a large amount of people also results in a dramatic increase in one’s daily information intake depending on the social media activity of the person (or people) whom you are subscribed to.

    Assumptions, Keywords and Change

    The underlying assumption is that the information that others feed is of importance to themselves, their world, or to those in their knowledge-network. Some keywords that could be assigned to Friendfeed are the following: aggregator, aggregation, social media, lifestream, information-network, media accumulation, sharing and perhaps responsible browsing. The system is changing to the extent that users are starting to post comments about the shared content directly on the Friendfeed stream and not on the particular blog post or shared item’s page. This has upset some bloggers who wish to have their community gather and comment directly on their own blog. Also, it seems that the system will continue to change depending on the social media feeds that are available for feeding. Finally, with the development of various Friendfeed applications, the site is beginning to act as a nexus from which one need not stray too far from. Firefox has already created the “MySocial” Add-on, which neatly integrates Friendfeed into the Firefox Browser.

    The effects

    The actual effect of Friendfeed on users could be an increased willingness and openness to share content in a public space, the ability to keep track of others through their online activity and even as a search engine function whereby one can search fed content. On a different note, Friendfeed creates a mixing spot where the content that one feeds and “likes” are grouped together under the same feed. Friendfeed works against fragmentation by opening the stream flow of social media, while at the same time creates fragmentation by allowing others to comment on fed material directly through Friendfeed and not through the actual article’s site.

    Alternatives and Otherwise

    As of writing this post, I am not aware of an alternative to the service that Friendfeed provides and perhaps it is because of this that it has gained so much attention as of late. This leads to the next question: Can we do without Friendfeed? The answer would be “yes, but…” What I mean by this is that due to the fragmention that occurs through the stretching out of oneself via social networking and social media, there is a lot of switching to different websites to keep track of friends and others. Through Friendfeed, one can gather the activity of certain others and monitor activity from a centralized location. Through a Friendfeed application, one can even Tweet through the Friendfeed website itself. While we can do without Friendfeed, it does create an interesting spot from which to perpetuate interesting web media.

    This is system is related to other systems of knowing and behaving in a couple ways. First, with the proliferation of social media, there seems to be the desire to “keep in touch” with others, and by keeping in touch I mean, following their web activity. At this point, Friendfeed serves the purpose of being able to stay updated on one’s friends’ social media activity. Also, Friendfeed allows the anonymous tracking of certain others by the creation of an “imaginary” friend, a kind of online social media peeping, in which one can feed the “imaginary friend’s” content. Moreover, this site is a social networking site stripped of its symbolic overload of images and personal self-identification. That is, one’s Friendfeed page is minimal and based solely on streamed content.

    Finally, the million dollar Neil Postman question “To what problem is Friendfeed the answer?” It seems that Friendfeed answers the problem of social media fragmentation, information-desire and the interest in anonymous tracking. Also, it acts as a stripped down social networking service constructed solely by one’s and other’s fed content. In this system, the human user is the food that sustains the site, food largely gathered from afar…and shared.

    Some articles relating to Friendfeed include, but are not limited to:
    Why You Should Use Friendfeed
    Ten Friendfeed Visitors Beats 1,000 StumbleUpons Any Day
    Friendfeed is This Year’s Twitter, But Why?
    Friendfeed Applications
    Related articles

     
    • kgjames 7:25 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink

      Interesting and informative post. I’m new to FFd as of the past week. Liking it so far but do find it overwhelming. I’m also trying SocialThing and Plurk just because I’m curious.

    • jgrefe 11:53 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you for the comment. I haven’t used “SocialThing” or “Plurk,” yet, but will have to check them out.

  • mono 11:31 pm on April 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brainstorm, , FriendFeed, , , Online Communities, , , , Social Networking Analysis, , Think Tank, Tower of Babel, , Twitters, ,   

    Web 3.0: Social Hybrid 

    Complex

    Today, I read the following article which discusses speculations regarding Web 3.0 and asks the question, “What would you like Web 3.0 to be?” The article is from Soshable and can be read here: Soshable: Web 3.0

    Webster defines “hybrid” in the following way:

    1: an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera
    2: a person whose background is a blend of two diverse cultures or traditions
    3 a: something heterogeneous in origin or composition : composite b: something (as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function

    The idea of two different species of websites merging together interests me very much, but beyond this I am weary about centralization, worried about the flow covering over my discovery of potential useful information. After having read about FriendFeed from several social media blogs, I created my account and began “sharing.” What immediately struck me was the absolute minimalism of one’s profile page, the strict focus on the data-stream as opposed to the development of one’s self through the use of symbols (as greatly seen on MySpace). However, without any “friends” on FriendFeed to keep track of, I visited the “Everyone” page to observe the conversational flow. What immediately stuck out was the frequent Twitter feeds that wouldn’t quit and proved quite distracting, until I realized that I was essentially merely an observer. After sharing a link, I watched as it quickly vanished into the nether world, just another blip from someone on the other side of the world. This kind of fast-moving meaningless glimpse at the snippets of conversations, makes me realize the necessity of adding “friends” to the Friendfeed site. Ah, I have digressed. Where was I? Ah yes, Social Hybridity.

    Under a Black Sky, Disconnected

    As I was walking outside this evening under the black Japan sky amidst the industrial bleakness of the suburbs, I began to really think what feature I would like to see emerge in Web 3.0. I began thinking about the idea of more online literature, downloadable books perhaps merging with a literary networking site, but then I realized that I am still very much attached to a real book, the feeling of turning the pages, savoring the textures of the book…

    Returning to the Tower of Babel

    Then, I had a thought. What is it that would make interacting with others easier? What am I missing in the chatter that comes from languages that I have never studied and do not understand? The separation of tongues was also very evident on the “FriendFeed” “everyone” viewing experience. I saw random Twitters and blog posts in foreign languages appear and, upon refreshing the page, washed away. What may be interesting, although it is perhaps quite far-fetched, would be a social networking site with emphasis on international linguistic diversity and some kind of function which would translate the other’s language into the language of my choice and vice versa. Of course, this is far-fetched in that even with advanced online translators, we all know that the task of translating from one language to another loses something, there is something that the computerized translation software cannot grasp and cannot adequately express. The slang, the nuance, sarcasm and word-play tend to get lost when filtered through the computerized translator. In my dream space, this would be realizable. That is, I would like to see a site with emphasis on translatability, on being able to see a page in Chinese appear in English with 99% of its natural flare in tact. Moreover, through a chat function, my words would be instantly translated to the other and the other’s to me, in our mother tongue. Perhaps, this would be one of my hopes for social hybridity.

    However, there is one obvious consequence of this idea of linguistic hybridity that comes to mind and that is a decline in the challenge to learn a language. Therefore, perhaps the site could also feature a rich translation tool that allows one to see just how words are being translated, online language lessons and the history of the development of the language (a kind of built-in Wiki). Of course, the site could also host various podcasts, international vlogs, downloadable educational content and the like. Eduction + Interaction.

    Think Tank Create Tank

    Another idea that comes to mind is a space that allows those wishing to collaborate on a project, brainstorm ideas visually and textually, working together to create some kind of multimedia project across the platform of a social networking site. For example, three musicians existing in three different countries come together through the site and are able to upload music files to their perhaps “private” group space online (on the SNS site), the site also provides a voice chat option/web cam option and spaces for sketching ideas visually and taking notes. In this way, the musicians at their own pace can work to collaborate on a piece of music, editing it in their own countries at the own homes, but uploading it and editing it through the social networking site itself. One may visualize this as a kind of think tank social networking site for professionals to meet, network and work together. Of course, not only musicians but video artists, online poets, fashion designers, architects, urban planners and virtual reality designers as well could use this page.

    I realize that both of the ideas presented here are macro in scope devoid of any technical way of making these ideas happen, but they are just to get the juices flowing, so to speak. Social hybridity, social hybridity, social hybridity…

    Questions

    So now I pass it on to you….what are your hopes for Web 3.0 and what problems would you like see solved? The Media Ecologist Neil Postman asked the question, “What problem is this new technology the solution?” I am curious as to what your online “problems” are and how new socially minded applications could help solve them?

     
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