We've seen a lot of new aggregation services and lifestreaming applications come into play recently, and we've questioned whether they're adding to the conversation or just adding to our information overload. (See our coverage on FriendFeed, for example). And today, MyBlogLog even added even more lifestreams to subscribe to.

The truth of the matter is, like it or not, the conversations that once existed solely in the blogosphere have now moved on. People still comment, but in a lot of cases, those comments aren't on found on the blog itself. So the question is, has the conversation become diluted among all the different services and applications? Or is it just adding layers to the original topic? And most importantly, how can you keep up?

Blogs and Commenting

This morning on the Blog Herald, Jason Kaneshiro, brought up this very topic. When people post an article on a blog these days, the conversations are occurring offsite. The blog link could be submitted to Digg, Mixx, and/or FriendFeed, and conversations may occur around the topic on those sites instead. The original blog post, meanwhile, has 0 comments. Jason asks: "Does this bother you as a blogger? How about as a user?"

He mentions that for many bloggers, the sentiment is that conversation-relocation is detrimental to the blog itself. If no one is commenting on the blog, will the blog lose readers? Will the blog lose traffic? Others feel that bloggers don't own the conversation - let it occur where it may.

Whether you agree or disagree with this sentiment, the real question now is, how can you keep up?

Bloggers today want to know the answers to questions like: Is my article being read? Is it being commented on? Is it being dugg? What are the diggers saying? What do the commenters say? Was it liked on FriendFeed? Did it show up on twitter? What are my friends reading? What are they saying? etc.

Here's How To Keep Up

Before becoming too overwhelmed, it's time to find some solutions. To stay in touch with so many different sources of conversation and activity, let's turn to RSS.

Begin by getting a list of all the feeds you want to keep track of. Here some I recommend, you can pick and choose which ones are right for you:

  • Twitter Friends: You can subscribe to your Twitter friends feed, but if you're also going to subscribe to your FriendFeed, which may include Twitter, then you should skip this. Best for Twitter purists only.
  • Twitter Replies: Twitter offers you a way to subscribe to your replies only. At the bottom of the Twitter replies is an RSS link to http://twitter.com/statuses/replies.rss. You'll then need to enter in your Twitter username and password to be authenticated in order to get your feed.
  • Twitter Topics: You can use TweetScan to search for any topic on Twitter and create a feed for it. This can be useful for someone who may have forgotten the "@" when replying to you, since you can have it search for just your username or common misspellings of your username.
  • FriendFeed: The hottest new thing. Aggregate everything and then pick up your FriendFeed feed from the bottom of your "Friends" page.
  • FriendFeed Comment Finder: This great new app was built with Yahoo Pipes and it will create a feed with your FriendFeed comments and people who "liked" your content.
  • FriendFeed Minus Twitter: Also from the wonderful Dawn Foster of the comment finder, you can create a Yahoo Pipes feed for your FriendFeed minus your Twitter updates, if you would prefer to keep them separate.
  • Facebook Status Updates: Track everything your friends are doing on Facebook. Click on "Friends," then choose the "Status Updates" option. On the right, click "Friends' Status Feed."
  • Facebook Posted Items: You can also grab a feed for your friends' posted items from the Posted Items page.
  • MySpace: MySpace isn't as giving with their feeds as Facebook, but you can still get one if you're crafty. For example, you can get a feed of your MySpace Comments by following the tutorial at 5ThirtyOne if you want to go this route. MySpace blogs already have feeds if you want to subscribe to any of those.
  • Digg: Keep track of your Digg comments with Diggwatch. This application lets you find, browse, and track your digg comments and their replies over the last 14 days. You can track by your username, the username of a friends, or you can track the stories and comments posted from a particular domain. The best part is that the service generates feeds for these items for you.
  • Social Site Submission Watch Dog: With this Yahoo Pipe, you can track how your site is being promoted on Digg
  • MyBlogLog: You may as well pick up the MyBlogLog lifestream while you're at it, found on your homepage: http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members/username.
  • SocialThing: For those not on FriendFeed, SocialThing is the other aggregating option.
  • Flickr: Photographers, don't forget to include your flickr feed to get the latest activity on your photos via RSS. The easiest way to get to this is to go to your Flickr photo page and scroll to the bottom where the "Activity" links are listed. You can also pick up feeds for comments you've made, photos from your groups, or photos from your friends.
  • RSSMeme: The problem with RSSMeme is that there isn't a way to just subscribe to a comments feed for any one user (like yourself or your friends) or even a comments feed for the "Popular" stories. You're best bet is to subscribe to the "Popular" feed and then keep an eye out to see if any of your stories or those of your friends make it there.

The final step is to subscribe to all the feeds in your RSS reader of choice, or on your homepage of choice like Netvibes or iGoogle. You can also try to blend them all together as a unified feed, too, using a service like feedblendr.com, and just subscribe to that instead.

I'm curious to know what other RSS feed sources you would include - please suggest some in the comments...or on Twitter...or in FriendFeed...or wherever!