Lately I have noticed that with more and more people getting used to RSS, and more services allowing you to send content in and out of them, content is flowing in so many different directions and things haven’t settled into any kind of default situation. For example – I use Twitterfeed to send updates to my Twitter account whenever I update my Facebook status, write a blog post, or add images to Flickr. This saves me the bother of updating Twitter AND Facebook, and Facebook friends will get the same content as Twitter followers. I do it this way because I go on Facebook more often than Twitter, and sometimes I want to Twitter about geeky things that I don’t want to bore my normal friends with (yes Twitter friends, you know you are all geeks). Most people I know who are on Twitter seem to flow content in the opposite direction, sending their Twitter status to their Facebook, I’m assuming because they spend more time on Twitter. However, people who are Facebook friends AND Twitter friends, see the same content twice. Boring!
The duplication of content gets particularly annoying when you use feed aggregators to view stuff. There are two types of aggregators I’m familiar with:
1. The stalker feed aggregator: These make stalking your friends super-easy. You can stay on one page and see what’s going on with everybody on all of their sites. An example of this is Spokeo, which works really nicely because you can rename your friends who have various online names so you remember who they are, and you can merge profiles for the same friend on various services into one. You can also delete boring friends just on Spokeo, so you don’t hear about their rubbish life, and you still remain friends with them on whatever external site they use, so you don’t offend anybody. Although Spokeo’s UI is really easy to use, it looks terrible in my opinion (oh, I just logged back in for the first time in a while and they’ve had a redesign, and they’ve gotten rid of a whole farmyard of small furry animals from the site). Socialthing is another example, and looks nice and clean, but you can’t merge people’s identities at the moment, and you can’t view all the content from a single person like you can on Spokeo *see below. These would be fine if my friends didn’t port their content all over the place, resulting in something like:
‘John on Facebook: John is Twittering: John is at home’
‘John on Pownce: John is Twittering: John is at home’
‘John on Twitter: John is at home’
2. The ego feed aggregator: If you throw pieces of yourself all over the internets, and you want to make life easier for your fans, you could make a page that aggregates all the information about you and your life into one place, so people don’t have to check in on you on lots of different services, but can just read this one page. Lots of people do this semi-manually on their blogs, adding feeds and badges from their various profiles across the web. I’ve kind of done this here, but have missed a few out, like Twitter, and I’ve preferred to just list links to my various profiles. I’ve now tried out (but haven’t put on my blog yet) ShowYourself, a widget-creator thing that creates a list of links to your various profiles in a semi-automatic way. Using Twitterfeed or similar, results in this kind of aggregated ego.
Friendfeed does both of these things, with a ‘Me’ tab and a ‘Friends’ tab. The ‘Me’ tab can be seen by anyone (here’s mine). You can also view your own updates in the Friends tab if you want to. But there’s still the problem of duplicated content. I had a bad case of duplicated content for a while when I let the Facebook Friendfeed application post updates to my Facebook Mini-feed: Updating my Facebook status would automatically update my Twitter status and send an update to Friendfeed and my Facebook Mini-feed (Mini-feed update 1); then Friendfeed would tell my Facebook Mini-feed that I updated my Facebook status (Mini-feed update 2), Twitter would tell my Friendfeed that I updated my Twitter status, then Friendfeed would tell my Mini-feed that I updated my Twitter status (Mini-feed update 3). Phew! That must have been annoying for my friends – I was probably spamming their newsfeeds. Also, the Friends tab only shows people who are also on Friendfeed (as far as I can tell), unless you go through the process of creating an ‘imaginary friend’ for each of the friends you want to follow. I.e. it doesn’t automatically import all of your friends from each social network.
I think the next step for these aggregator sites is to scan for duplicated content and filter it out. *I just discovered that you can merge people’s various profiles into one on Socialthing, AND it removes duplicate content and still tells you the sites they updated:
Brilliant! Are any other sites doing this yet?
The last couple of weeks I’ve been using Flock (full review coming soon), which can function as a stalker feed aggregator if you set it up properly, and it’s been nice to have my friends’ updates in a side panel of my browser. Duplicated content is still a problem here though – I wonder if they are planning on doing the Socialthing thing and filtering duplicates and/or merging people’s identities when you view ‘All’ updates?