Home Don’t Be So Naive: Friendfeed Adds to the Noise

Don’t Be So Naive: Friendfeed Adds to the Noise

There’s an interesting, but tiresome discussion going around about whether FriendFeed contributes to the conversation or the noise. While we’ve already reviewed how FriendFeed can contribute to other problems such as information overload, the answer seems obvious that FriendFeed both contributes to the conversation and the noise. Here’s a look at both sides of the coin.

Adding to the Noise

There are dozens of ways that Friendfeed adds to the noise. For one, it pulls in one of the noisiest services out there: Twitter. At least 10% of Twitter streams have much to do about nothing and filtering out this noise is hard to do on FriendFeed. Secondly, for those that don’t entertain certain services that FriendFeed aggregates, that’s extra noise.

For example, I hide all Flickr, Twitter, and Seesmic items unless they have a comment on them. I’m not a heavy user of Flickr nor Seesmic and most of the items that my friends on FriendFeed may be sharing from these services, I probably wouldn’t be very interested in. At the same time, some services that I have FriendFeed aggregate may be completely irrelevant to another member of the community.

Adding to the Conversation

One of the most popular reasons for being on FriendFeed is for the conversations and not necessarily for the lifestreaming part of the equation. This leads to a plethora of discussions on FriendFeed. Even Scoble has gone as far as calling it a “talk show“. Infamous “Bitchmemes” develop overnight on FriendFeed. It can remind users of a Harry Potter duel, though instead of wands and spells, there are words and links to back up the facts.

At the same time, users of FriendFeed add to the conversation with almost everything that they share…almost. For me, Google Reader Shared Items, RSS feeds and stumbles via StumbleUpon are services that add to the conversation. In fact, the items from these services continuously to start numerous conversations, thereby helping to balance out the noise-to-signal ratio on FriendFeed.


Is there another lifestreaming backlash around the corner? Probably not. While some are questioning the “conversation fragmentation” problem on FriendFeed, it doesn’t necessarily add to the noise. The fragmentation is just a byproduct of the same information being shared in more than one network of friends, and users that run in more than one circle that may continuously see the same information. This isn’t a problem of FriendFeed, but rather a problem caused by the various groups within FriendFeed, which Julian Baldwin expresses other great thoughts about.

In the end, the question shouldn’t be whether or not FriendFeed contributes to the noise or to the conversation, but more about how much FriendFeed is contributing to both sides of the coin. This only reinforces why filtering is the next step to better contribute to the conversation while reducing the noise levels.

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