Friday, August 21, 2009

A tool is not a way of life, and a tool's features are not a way of life either

I enjoy it when I catch myself spouting a boneheaded idea. If Sarah Perez or Jesse Stay says something that's wrong, while I can certainly counter their ideas, it isn't appropriate for me to denigrate them personally. But when I go the zero IQ route, I can engage in the pleasure of calling myself every name in the book...and knowing that much of my readership will cheer me on. Of course, there's always the danger that I'll get in a flame war with myself, but that's a personal problem.

One non-boneheaded thing that I've said is that a tool is not a way of life. Perhaps you've heard me say this before. An important corollary to this truism, however, is that a tool's features are not a way of life either.

Back when people were mourning the loss of FriendFeed, one of the things that was conveyed to me (by Alex Scoble and Mark Krynsky, among others) is that many of these people didn't miss FriendFeed itself, but the relationships that FriendFeed allowed them to establish.

However, during at least one point during Facefeed week, I seemed to have misplaced that truth, as I began to personally analyze what it would take to recreate the FriendFeed experience on Facebook.

Now there are those who argue that FriendFeed and Facebook are two entirely different beasts, but I would argue (wisely, I think) that they do share some commonalities. Based upon these perceived commonalities, I advanced the idea that three changes to the Facebook UI would provide FriendFeed refugees with the rich FriendFeed experience that they were craving.

  • Bump active items to the top of the feed. One of the nice features of FriendFeed is the fact that active conversations - i.e., those with likes and/or recent comments - get bumped to the top of the feed. Facebook doesn't do this.

  • Allow multiple RSS feeds on a Facebook page. For those who don't remember, FriendFeed started as a feed aggregator, and thus naturally supports a way to show your entire lifestream in one place. Facebook limits you to a single RSS feed per page.

  • Allow pseudonyms in Facebook. FriendFeed users can adopt any pseudonym that they like (well, except for "Bret"). Facebook is much more insistent on people using their real identity.
Upon further reflection, however, I have decided that any attempt to re-create FriendFeed in Facebook should be re-examined critically, and that anyone who would suggest a "move FriendFeed features to Facebook" development effort without critically analyzing whether such features make sense in the Facebook interface...well, that person is a moronic idiot of the highest order and shouldn't be entrusted with a pencil, let alone a computer keyboard and a blog.

(Hey, I enjoyed that.)

So, let's take the time to critically analyze my earlier suggestions and see if they make sense for Facebook. Stay tuned for part two.
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