FriendFeed And Intention

April 3, 2008

Alexander van Elsas wrote a good critique of FriendFeed which I think I’ll comment on. He says a lot of the activity lacks “intention” making it harder to separate “signal from noise.” The end result is when all your friends’ activity loads up in one feed there is no value added to the information, leaving you to through the data overload. This is opposed to a message crafted directly to you. Good point.

Perhaps I use FriendFeed differently, but all the services I have given FriendFeed permission to track do have an intent to share. I have my blog, Twitter, Disqus comments, Reddit, and Google Reader. Every time I make an action on any of those sites, I am thinking about the public nature and want the message to be read by anyone. So as far as I’m concerned, I feel “intent” is there.

This is opposed to what I don’t share. I don’t broadcast my Google web browsing history, I don’t have a “lifestream” in the form of a web cam strapped to my head that is broadcasting all day to FriendFeed, I don’t have my Amazon shopping history keyed in. About 1% of my life is on FriendFeed and about 10% of my web activity.

Now I can see how adding that 1% up over say, twenty friends, would make for a very noisy FriendFeed, so perhaps it would be good to employ some filters on your end, like “unfriending” the noisy people who are sharing too much, or the filter by service feature that was recently added (read this writeup by Louis Gray).

Anyhow, it’s great to see people discussing the pros and cons of FriendFeed. So far I’ve found the signal to noise ratio acceptable. My bigger worry is that over time, as more mainstream users start using the service, the value will drop significantly as we get more “friends” on board that use it to push stuff *spam*. But until then, I’ll continue to use and recommend FriendFeed.


  1. I made an intentional choice to stream everything I listen to on, which is when we discovered that FriendFeed does not currently allow you to selectively hide one “blog” but view others. But I found that commenting on songs in my feed is easier than blogging about them. Once FriendFeed can hide selective blogs, the noise problem for some of my readers will go away.

  2. I've found the various filters to be super-helpful, and I'm pleased with the results.

  3. engtech says:

    It's always been about signal to noise.

    I'm with you in that I have my original content published feeds, and I have everything else. That's why I don't drop links into my twitter stream but instead use another one for links. I try to monitor my own sharing to keep down the ratio.

  4. webomatica says:

    Yep it seems many of us are treating the service respectfully and trying not
    to overwhelm the “followers”. I have mixed feelings on if this balance will
    be maintained as more users come on board, as they inevitably do. Twitter
    for example is starting to get messy. However, we all have the ability to
    “unfollow” people who are sending out more noise than signal.