I’ve been intrigued by Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed ever since I heard of both services. In the spirit of disclosure, I worked with one of the co-founders at FriendFeed when we were both at Google and I think he is a very bright guy. With that out of the way, I have to say that I have a preference for FriendFeed thus far. Generally speaking, both services provide the same basic value proposition – tell them services where you have accounts (Picasa, twitter, Digg, etc) and they will create a metafeed for you of all of your activity online. Your friends and associates can then get a full stream of what you’re doing across many social media sites. As others have pointed out, it’s very similar to the Facebook news feed for the rest of the web.
So what is it about FriendFeed that I like more than Plaxo. Well, I’ll be brief. First, I’ve been using Plaxo for a long time as a way to easily backup and access my contact information across multiple computers. As a result, I have a lot of people in my Plaxo address book. In theory, that would be a great place to start in determining where I want to share stuff. Only problem is that there are many people in my Plaxo address book who aren’t “friends” in the sense that I want to notify them of my every waking web activity. Second, many of the people with whom I’d like to share my web activities aren’t in my address book – I have their contact info on Facebook only or buried in Gmail. I don’t have it in a structured form that’s easy to access.
There are other things I really like about FriendFeed. With Plaxo Pulse I have to “friend up” my pulse network and make decisions about which people I’d like to allow access to which types of data. In addition, I have to classify my contacts by the nature of our relationship. I initially found the privacy controls on Plaxo to be useful, but now they’re becoming a bit tedious to manage. FriendFeed makes this process a lot easier. All I had to do was add the services that I like and add the Facebook application and friends of mine started to automagically appear in my friends list. It’s not entirely clear to me how FriendFeed is doing this, but a) it’s bringing in the right set of people thus far and b) doesn’t require me to actively spam my friends to get them on the service.
Overall, I think FriendFeed is just a more frictionless way to keep up with what your friends are doing across the web than Plaxo Pulse is at this point. The overall impression that I have after using FriendFeed for awhile is that it is a very clean, focused, and simple product – it does one thing really well and makes it really easy for you to enjoy the product as a user. Pulse feels a bit clunkier at this point – it’s part of a larger set of things that Plaxo is doing and the need to integrate with some of their other cool features puts an overhead on the product that makes it feel a little less slick.
I’m also sick of being a host for parasitic viral applications. I appreciate the fact that FriendFeed doesn’t ask me to pound my friends with invites or relationship requests to get value immediately. Thanks for saving my social capital and curing me of invite fatigue.
Also a hat tip to the FriendFeed team for the recommended friends feature that points out people I’m likely to want to follow given who my friends are already following.
The only other time I’ve had the same reaction to a service like FriendFeed was the first time I used Twitter. It was really simple, clean, entertaining, and immediately useful. I’m not saying FriendFeed will grow as quickly as Twitter but my reaction to the overall product ethos is the same that I had when I first discovered Twitter.
The one thing that I’m really waiting for is for someone to do the obvious – take all of the things that my friends and I are collecting, reading, and or sharing and surface it to me. Show me the “personalized Digg” that so many of these services seem to be groping toward providing. Soon I hope the net effect of all of this sharing will be a better filter for what to read, view, and consume on the web.