friendfeed versus socialthing: why i’m backing socialthing

before you read my opinion on the two relatively similar services, i would recommend checking out read/writeweb’s look at friendfeed versus socialthing. while i think the article has a great overview and good points, i do have to disagree with the conclusion.

in short, the idea behind both services is to help users lifestream all of their social media activity through one simple aggregator and allow their friends on each network to subscribe to these actions and interact with them. thus far, friendfeed has an advantage because it has more services integrated into its stream and has more media exposure, which is understandable because they have been around much longer. by comparison, socialthing only has 6 services integrated (versus friendfeed’s almost 30) and has a fairly small community.

the main problem i have with friendfeed, (and the lack of which i think is socialthing’s killer app) is that friendfeed isn’t simply an aggregator, it is a network of its own. for example, when you interact with someone’s stream in friendfeed, let’s say a friend’s twitter message, the interaction is posted within friendfeed and not on the external site.

socialthing on the other hand is quite simply an aggregator and not a network (at least not yet) and the reason why i love it is because when i interact with an element from socialthing, the interaction appears on the external site (from which the lifestream was aggregated) and not on socialthing itself. for example, when i reply to someone’s twitter message, the reply appears on twitter (whereas on friendfeed, when i comment on a twitter message, the comment stays on friendfeed).

in the future i can foresee socialthing allowing you to respond to comments on your blog, or social news sites, or on people’s social networking profiles, and more, directly from their service and without having to visit each site independently.

quite frankly, we don’t need a social network of social networks because that just further exaserbates our information overload problem. what we need is an aggregator of social networks so that we can efficiently consume and dispose of (or interact with) information – which is precisely what socialthing does.

please leave a comment if you would like an invite to socialthing.

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36 thoughts on “friendfeed versus socialthing: why i’m backing socialthing

  1. Gerard

    information overload – great choice of words, Mu. That’s exactly how I feel right now. I’ve networked on so many social media sites that it’s hard to keep track of everyone’s activity. Currently, i’m trying to use netvibes to organize all the sites. But, having a “lifestream” helps display and consume the information much easier. i haven’t decided yet which is better since socialthing has so few services right now.

    although, the thing i like about friendfeed is subscribing – not to dispute your point on “a social network of social networks” I don’t want to see that either. don’t you ever wish you could just see the activity of a particular person or group of people? (i know it’s sorta “messed up”) but sometimes, i don’t want to see everyone’s activity; i just want to see a few person’s activity. hopefully, in the future, friendfeed will allow me to group users together so that i can give more attention to certain friends (and hopefully, they’ll make that private so as not to offend any of my friends. Don’t worry Mu, you’re on my “high attention” list).

    friendfeed also has another cool feature with the “invisible friends.” Can’t say I like the terminology, but it’s useful for those friends who are not using the site or who use another aggregator. A problem i have in social media where you end up signing up to every site because some of your friends went here and some went there.

  2. Tom Drapeau

    I like the “invisible friends” feature of friendfeed as well. I’ve been a bit disappointed with friendfeed in trying to add my work service to their official list (they don’t have the setup to just go adding services willy-nilly, apparently), but its interesting.

    Good point on the comment stream/recirculation aspect.

    Send me a socialthing invite if you have one, I’ll take it for a spin.

  3. Tom Drapeau

    So my first impressions:

    – Friendfeed may have 28 total services available, but I found I added the same number of services on socialthing (Flickr, Twitter, Pownce, Facebook).

    – The needing to add a Facebook app to add that stream is hokey, both services need it, I know its the Facebook tax, it just feels weird.

    – I like that socialthing just fits into your existing networks, you aren’t creating a new friend on socialthing. Friendfeed could learn from that, invisible friends and all.

    – I don’t comment much from the aggregator view (I comment most on blog posts, and would rather go to the actual detail page to comment), but if I did, I’m sure I’d be pissed that friendfeed eats the comment vs. posts it to the content originating site.

    – I wish one of these services (twitter/facebook/flickr/etc) would tie a person’s blog RSS feed in with its stream. That way these lifestreaming apps would be interesting. I mean, I *guess* I could import Google Reader in friendfeed and accomplish this, but it would be cool to have, say, a Twitter feed that includes your blog posts. Yes, I know that several tools exist that do this, but for someone that blogs a lot, the Twitter feed can get a bit link-heavy, and not everyone wants it to be so heavy. An option to allow viewing blog posts as part of the stream would be an interesting add, I think.

    – Thanks for the invite, I’ll give you one of mine back if you want.

  4. David

    You summarized my feelings about Friendfeed exactly. I think Friendfeed is a good service, but its just not one I’m not in love with. What I wanted FF to be was a dashboard for interacting with the other services I used. Socialthing sounds like it does this. You used the example of being able to respond via twitter directly from Socialthing (as opposed to commenting on the tweet which stayed on Friendfeed), and for me this is exactly what I thought Friendfeed should have been.

    If you still have any Socialthing invites I’d love to try it out πŸ™‚

  5. guillaume

    I thought your post quite sensible. I also crave the desire to post comments from google reader or from friendfeed in the original blog. If socialthing allows me to do this, then I’d be interested in joining…

  6. Mark Blair

    I completely agree about the commenting in FriendFeed’s architecture. I like FriendFeed’s aggregation features but don’t really want to monitor it for comments.

    The thing in FriendFeed that has been the most useful for me so far is to get a daily digest via email. I’m not sure if SocialThing has this. I would like to give it a try if you have a spare invite.

    I must say, from your screenshot the SocialThing interface looks a lot better as well. I’ve been crusading against the plague of underlined links in the FriendFeed interface on a few other blog posts, but will take a breather from that rant here πŸ™‚ Let’s just say I feel a panic attack coming on each time I spend more than a minute weeding through it…

  7. Corvida

    These are some great points that you make! And I agree FriendFeed’s inability to bring these comments back to their origin is a big of a hindrance. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It was a good thing to point out though!

  8. Alex Nesbitt

    This is a very interesting point. It seems that in different places we may have different networks. By having the ability to aggregate in one place and react in distributed networks it should allow someone to interact differently with their Myspace network than their Facebook network. It would be interesting to figure out if heavy users of social networks basically have one network they care about or if they have multiple networks they interact with to such a degree as to need this kind of capability. I suspect that really social people interact with every network they have and others do so on a more target basis. If this is true then what you are proposing should drive adoption within a highly social segment. I’d like to give it a try. please send and invitation.


    Alex Nesbitt
    Digital Podcast

  9. Tris Hussey

    I agree with you Muhammad. I’m looking at the firehose that FriendFeed is giving me and I don’t think this is any better than what I was doing before. Like to try socialthing if it can keep comments in context with the original.

    Having to track comments all over the place isn’t raising the bar, it’s making more work!

  10. josh

    i completely agree. the killer lifestreaming aggregator of social media apps won’t just sit on top of the apps it aggregates. friendfeed is absolutely correct that the aggregator must be a place where native interactive can happen, but it misses the mark. my replies to others twitters should themselves also be twitters…and so on for other services. so, ya, please send me an invite if you’ve got an extra.

  11. RickFu

    I agree. FriendFeed seemed like a great idea until I played with it a bit and I feel it’s lacking.

    I love to try socialthing if you still have an invite available.

    Thanks for the great post!

  12. TI3GIB

    I thought Friendfeed was alright and functional, with some restrictions of course, but I didn’t change my mind until I saw Socialthing’s preview sometime ago.

    Looks like a great service. I’d like an invite if you have any left.

  13. EastBayAnt

    I’ve been using friendfeed for a couple weeks now, and would like to check out socialthing. I’m impressed by the buzz around the service as well as the information I’ve seen various places around the web.

    If you have any invites left, I’d appreciate one… πŸ™‚

  14. mfg

    i am behind a firewall occasionally when browsing and aggregators are 95% of my workaround. Google reader has been a great resource for following flickr friends. i recently started using netvibes and am finding even more functionality with it.

    yet the social network aspect remains largely insufficient. socialthing sounds like it would be exactly what i am looking for inasmuch as it would interact with the external site (my girlfriend is addicted to myspace).

    moreover, i would love to not need to use myspace itself very often, and to be able to engineer an artifice so that she can manage the majority of her subscriptions from one place.

    if you have any more invites i would love to give this a go!

  15. Shivanand

    Nice article, and makes a lot of sense. I have been using friendfeed for a while now, and what I needed from a social life aggregator, is exactly what socialthing does.

    Do pass along an invite. I would love to try it.

  16. Luke Gedeon

    I am honestly surprised that we do not yet have a tool that brings in all RSS feeds, with comments and lets you comment back to the blog from inside the reader. If either of these or Google Reader can pull this off they will become my favorite.

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  19. chris

    i haven’t tried out socialthing (unfortunately the services it supports aren’t ones i regularly use), but it sounds like it handles comments much the same that favorit does, by commenting back to the original post. this is a great feature and one that i hope friendfeed will eventually support; however, since friendfeed has its own commenting system, it allows you to add comments to services that don’t normally have them (i.e. delicious, tumblr, google shared items, etc).

    that was the main draw to friendfeed for me. however, disqus is looking like an interesting player in this space.

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  21. Todd Jordan

    Good comparison. I also find the friendfeed feature of local comment to be bother. I’d much prefer, as you said, to have replies etc go back to the original source.

    If you have a spare socialthing invite, please toss it my way.

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  25. Armand

    Hello, Dou you still have invitation for Socialthing ? I ve discovered Friendfeed some days ago and I would like to see the difference with it.
    Thanks in advance

  26. Vincent A. Hunt

    Heya! I am doing quite a bit of work and research within this area and I would love to give SocialThing a run… Do you have any invites left? I would love one if you do!!


    Vincent A. Hunt

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  28. Jonathan Davis

    definitely on the lookout for a socialthing invite. if anyone has one, please twitter it to me @wefearwedestroy or contact me through my block, which is linked to my name…i will be verrrrry grateful.

  29. ada

    Sounds really convincing – I’ve been using FriendFeed and it’s really cool, but only if you have a lot of friends there, of course. I’d love an invite to SocialThing if you have a spare one πŸ™‚

  30. Adam

    I’ve been using friendfeed for a while, but I’m much more interested in the idea of my replies showing up on the external sites like you mention about socialthing. If you have any invites left I’d be quite interested to try the service.


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