Home Facebook’s Lifestream: Nothing to See Here

Facebook’s Lifestream: Nothing to See Here

A new post on the Facebook blog announces the arrival of “a new way to share with friends” – that is, they’re offering a way for you to import content from non-Facebook sites into your Facebook Mini-Feed and into your friends’ News Feeds. This new option is being touted on the blogosphere as Facebook’s “new lifestreaming feature.” That is, by far, a grand overstatement of the service, which currently pales in comparison with its competitors.

This new import feature, which is, at the moment, offering the import of Flickr, Picasa, Yelp, and del.icio.us info into your mini-feed cannot even be called “a good first start” at this point. Despite promises of Digg integration in the future as well as “other sites,” the limited amount of supported services only highlights what a great service this could be if done well.

And by “done well,” we mean not only allowing the 3rd party info to feed into the stream, but allowing users to pull the entire stream out of Facebook, too. Two of the most valuable sources for information about the activity on Facebook – the mini-feed and the news feed – still don’t offer RSS feeds for users to subscribe to, and it’s looking like this much desired feature may never arrive.

Instead Facebook’s data feeds only include the status updates of your friends, posted items of friends, and notifications for any user. The omission of the two most critical feeds is, (according to this twitterer) “ironic given they support data portability.”

While not everyone is a fan of FriendFeed’s  increasingly “destination-like” service (says another twitterer: “Facebook’s lifestream FTW… FriendFeed wants you to add friends, yet again”), FriendFeed at least offers a wide selection of lifestreaming services – 35 at the moment, including the ability to import a “blog” feed, which essentially allows you to import any RSS feeds into the stream.

Additionally, FriendFeed allows export of their stream via RSS or even via a FriendFeed Facebook app, which begs the question (as this twitterer poses): why not allow FriendFeed users to just import their stream into Facebook’s feed, then?

On the AllFacebook blog, Nick is decidedly much more optimistic about the new service’s potential, saying

“If Facebook opens up the API for the mini-feed importing feature, Facebook will immediately become the largest competitor to FriendFeed and most likely displace it.”

Additionally, he thinks that Facebook could be only one step away from adding a commenting feature to both the news feed and the mini-feed.

While that would be great, with Facebook’s reticence to even open up those activity streams via RSS, it’s hard to picture a time when they become open services as opposed to what they are today: tools designed to get you to visit the site and play in the Facebook sandbox.

However, all that being said, it’s important to also take a look at this offering from a viewpoint outside the focus of the social-media-addicted tech community – something that MG does quite well on his VentureBeat post, “Facebook is kinda competing with FriendFeed, like it kinda competes with Twitter.”

Just as Facebook’s status updates are no comparison to Twitter, this lifestreaming feature is no comparison to FriendFeed, but it may be enough for the average user. Says MG:

It may be that Facebook users will be satisfied enough with Facebook’s overlapping feature being released today, that they won’t feel the need to also use Friendfeed. It doesn’t mean Friendfeed is doomed, it just might reduce its potential to grow big.

The idea of what’s good enough for the average user may leave us techies scratching our heads, watching as so many great ideas coming out of our community – like Twitter, lifestreaming, etc –  get sucked up by big sites like MySpace and Facebook, offering these large communities pale imitations of the services we know and love.

However, that very well may be enough for the average user. How sad.

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