Unraveling Obfuscation

ob fus cate – 1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy 2. to make obscure or unclear

FriendFeed really is that good

Posted by Todd McKinney on March 27, 2008

image I know I’m a little late to the party with this gushing endorsement. So much has already been said about the service that we’re quickly heading towards “over-hyped”. I just have one simple point that I want to make that demonstrates why I find FriendFeed so compelling. Amid all of the other things that FF does so well, they have managed to strike a terrific balance between ease of use and noise filtering. It’s done through an interface that is obvious and does exactly what you expect. Most notably in my experience, when compared to Twitter it is far easier to jump in and participate in a conversation. The key difference is that FriendFeed leans more towards an opt-out model for keeping the noise to signal ratio manageable. As a result, anyone can jump in and participate in a conversation with almost no effort. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create account

  2. Find some people to follow/subscribe

  3. Click comment when you see something interesting

Compare that to Twitter, and it’s like night and day. I’m finally coming up the learning curve so that Twitter actually works for me, but it’s been a bit of a frustrating experience that sent me off to find the “user’s manual” to be able to know what’s going on. As a quick aside, I did come across a well written series that fills in the details about how to use Twitter. Ugh, I would hate to have to explain all that to my Grandma. I’ll take clean, simple and intuitive any day. When it comes to “mainstream potential”, I think that’s a powerful advantage.

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3 Responses to “FriendFeed really is that good”

  1. n8k99 said

    here a link for your gandma http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter

    i know that twitter is like drinking from a firehose and that friendfeed and even better quoable.com have better interfaces for following conversations, yet still twitter’s usability scales proportionally with the number of people who you are following. try it.

  2. Nathan, thanks. I appreciate the simple easy intro link. The problem that I have is not so much following and listening – that part is really pretty simple. The initial confusion for me came when I started trying to talk back to people with Twitter. Obviously, if you follow and respond on Twitter you end up getting included in the conversation. It’s worth pointing out, however, that what may seem obvious to people that have been using Twitter for quite a while is that you can only have a really meaningful conversation with people that are following you. Until you get an ecosystem built with people that you want to talk to being “followers”, it’s kinda strange. The @name convention allows you to directly break through and talk with people, but only if they happen to check their “replies” tab. It’s a good filtering mechanism, but I have found it to be a real barrier to communication. My point is not that Twitter is particularly bad or broken, but as most really interesting users are being very selective about following their followers, a new user can easily end up in a catch-22 where nobody hears what they’re saying and because nobody hears then nobody follows and it’s pretty frustrating. I’ve finally broken the code, and can meaningfully have a discussion on Twitter, but I still think that the learning curve can be a problem for people who try to jump in and start using Twitter for the first time.

  3. felix said

    As a very lightweight twitter user, I totally agree… I find FF’s interface significantly more accessible than Twitter’s. (No disrespect to Twitter intended. 🙂

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