Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Building the perfect silo - cutting the link between FriendFeed and Facebook

Sounds like you need to master your social media data flow, sir.

(Louis Gray, in a comment on a prior post of mine)

Over the years, I have employed various workflows that govern how my service memberships interact with one another. I haven't published a formal map of these relationships in some time, but one main link in my present workflow has been the publishing of all of my FriendFeed content on my Facebook account. Because there are a lot of things that flow INTO my FriendFeed account, this means that all of this stuff - blog posts, likes, Google Reader shares, and many other things - ends up in my Facebook account, appearing as FriendFeed entries.

I've previously noted the drawbacks of this flow:

When someone views this feed, even if they're technically savvy, the results can be somewhat confusing. And if you're not familiar with how certain services work, they can be downright maddening.

As an example, I posted a picture of four FriendFeed entries, showing how they appear in Facebook. The third of the four entries, which came from a feed which includes all mentions of my Twitter handle @empoprises, demonstrates one of the problems:

The third item in the picture is probably even more confusing. It came from Twitter, but I didn't write it. My FriendFeed page includes a search for all tweets that include my Twitter name @empoprises - the search found a particular tweet from Derrick Jefferson which was in response to something that I had written. (He was looking for some in Louisiana who could cut a black man's hair; I referred him to a barber in southern California, the place where he used to live.)

This confusion about the origin of various items is compounded by the fact that they often appear out of context - especially since my sharing activities on all my various online services can sometimes border on the eccentric. This is part of the FriendFeed culture itself; people there are accustomed to navigating around FriendFeed and Google Reader and Google Buzz and this service and that service, carrying conversations from one service to another, and generally treating the entire World Wide Web like a good plate of spaghetti.

But even when the results aren't that confusing, one can question whether the sharing of items on multiple services is wise. I wrote this a few days ago:

When this post is published, an announcement of the post's availability will appear on FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, and probably a half dozen other services which I've forgotten. For certain posts, I also choose to share them via other services, such as StumbleUpon and Google Reader. I have to ask myself - is that a wise move, or is there the danger that some people will be overwhelmed and Empoprises will be less prized?

I mulled this question, considering (among other things) Louis Gray's comment that I reproduced at the beginning of this post. Gray had noticed the post because it referred to a post of his on the reverse topic; namely, setting limits on the amount of content that you are CONSUMING. I was looking at the question of the amount of content that I was PRODUCING, and decided to make a change.

Beginning this afternoon, I have revoked the privilege of Facebook's FriendFeed application to publish content to my Facebook account.

This goes against all of the intentions that committed lifestreamers stand for, and in fact my choice has now been marked as an error by the FriendFeed application on Facebook. When I view the application stream, I see the following error message:

Yes, from the perspective of the FriendFeed app, this is a "problem." But for me, and for my Facebook users, it's actually the solution.

Of course, this means that the people who read my main Facebook page will not be able to see my FriendFeed stuff, or my Google Reader stuff, or my stuff, or my Twitter stuff, or my stuff from many other services. Now I could certainly configure some of these applications to post their stuff directly to Facebook, but I will refrain from doing this at the present time.

And if people are really dying to see my blog-related content, they can visit my various Facebook fan pages which are designed for this purpose.

Items from this blog can be seen here.

Items from my music blog can be seen here. You can also see my blips there.

Items from my Inland Empire blog can be seen here.

(And no, I haven't established a Facebook page for my NTN Buzztime blog yet.)

This will actually help me to work on something else that I need to do - namely, build up the content on these three Facebook pages. I previously had some FriendFeed pages that were devoted to these blogs (the Empoprise-BI FriendFeed page is here), but I haven't really been doing much with those FriendFeed pages lately. I'm starting to use the Facebook pages more and more, and perhaps this will inspire me to continue this.

What does this change mean in terms of blog creation? Well, it could mean that FriendFeed could become the rough draft area for ideas that are more fully explored in my blog posts or in my Facebook rooms. I am often inspired by the stuff that I read in Google Reader and elsewhere, so if you want to see what's going on in my mind, you can always go directly to my FriendFeed page at to look at these activities.

At the same time, it could happen that the Facebook rooms will also serve that purpose. There is not any content that automatically flows into those rooms (other than my blog posts), but I sometimes manually post items into my Facebook rooms and write about them later.

This is obviously a work in progress, and we'll see what happens, and if Bill or any of my other Facebook friends ask me "John, what happened to all of that weird stuff that you used to put in your Facebook feed?"
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