Home Facebook Could Use a Little FriendFeed

Facebook Could Use a Little FriendFeed

I came across a post this morning on Jonathan Lane’s blog that used the word “Facebook” and the term “jumped the shark” in the same sentence. Lane’s basic premise is that while Facebook is great at accomplishing its core directive of connecting people, it sucks at all the peripheral services it offers and doesn’t have a good enough way to integrate with higher quality outside services to satisfy the needs of a poweruser.

“Facebook is pretty good for the beginners, but fails for people like me,” wrote Lane. “There is no way that I’m going to upload photos to two separate places. Having to choose between Flickr and Facebook? Sorry Facebook, you lose. Having to pick between responding to comments on my imported Facebook notes, or comments posted on my blog? Sorry Facebook, you lose again.”

Facebook does many of things we do on other sites. It has notes, which are kind of like blogging, but they’re nowhere near as robust as WordPress or MovableType. It has status updates, which are kind of like Twitter, but they’re one-way and don’t have an archive. It has photos and videos, but nothing nearly as well-made as Flick or YouTube, or Picasa or Vimeo. It has events, which are probably as easy to use as Upcoming, but not nearly as complete when it comes to an inventory of actual things to do. In short, Facebook does a lot of things, but besides being an address book, it doesn’t do anything else really, really well.

That’s why powerusers generally rely on so many other outside services. The hype surrounding FriendFeed over the past couple of weeks makes it evident that the early adopter set, at least, have their attention spread out over a large number of sites. They’re not content with “good enough” tools at Facebook, they want the best tools at whatever site offers them.

What Facebook could really use, then, is a little bit of FriendFeed (which is ironic given that the activity stream idea FriendFeed is based on was pushed to the mainstream by Facebook). Facebook has an application platform that allows users to access their data from outside sites and bring it into Facebook, but so far the integration isn’t all that great. Facebook could benefit a lot from more tightly integrating outside services. Allowing people to populate their photo albums from Flickr, for example, or replace the standard status updates with a full Twitter stream, would keep people on the site for longer periods of time. Ideally, any service you bring into Facebook would be read/write — meaning you can write to it from within Facebook as well.

Doing that could make Facebook a real killer app, and if they also let users customize their News Feeds to include all that outside data they brought in, it would nip lifestreaming startups in the bud. That would make Facebook a true Internet operating system, and help users to focus attention in a single place. Of course, data portability and OpenID would make that task of integrating with outside sites a heck of a lot easier. And in order to do something like this, Facebook would also need to make users free to export their data back out of Facebook just as easily as they brought it in.

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