Let me start by saying… no, I’m not obsessed with FriendFeed lately. I’m merely obsessed with finding the best way to consume the neverending supply of online content. FriendFeed is merely the best way I’ve found so far to consume this data.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that FriendFeed is an uncontrollable firehose of data. I disagree. If anything, I’ve found that with a few tweaks it can actually help you manage your information better. Here’s a few tips:
You Don’t Have to Follow Everyone
This one sounds obvious. But ever since I started subscribing to feeds or following folks on Twitter, I’ve been very selective about adding A-listers. Why? Those folks tend to produce a hell of a lot of content. Following too many prolific A-listers can really turn your feedreader into a mess.
My theory has always been to follow bloggers with whom you share similar interests. They’ll tend to chime in about the stuff that’s worth talking about. I’m thinking of Brian Oberkirch here. You can’t believe how much time I’ve saved over the last two years by reading Brian and NOT reading other people.
FriendFeed gets this. I don’t need to follow Robert Scoble. I just wait for some of my friends to let me know when they’re interested in something Robert posted. It appears in my feed like so:
Never Miss an Important Tweet Again
I’ve already talked about how I can filter my FriendFeed feed by service, letting me read all tweets on Twitter and not duplicate them on FriendFeed.
But, I’m hitting that “following” threshold that makes it difficult to keep up with EVERY tweet on Twitter. So, if I only have time to skim the last few pages of tweets or I go offline for a few hours (or, more realistically, Twitter does) and can’t catch up on every tweet, FriendFeed will let me know which of my friends’ tweets are being “liked” or commented on.
Follow Stuff that was Previously Clunky to Follow
Does Del.icio.us even have a “friends” feature? I don’t even know. It very well might.
If it does, nobody uses it. And that’s a shame. Think about the mundane things you find yourself reading about folks on Twitter. Then, when you consider that you’re missing an important activity like taking the time to read an article online and save it for later… It’s crazy.
It’s true that everyone with a Del.icio.us account has had an RSS feed, but with FriendFeed it has never been so easy to subscribe to all of someone’s services at once. There’s gold in those Del.icio.us feeds. And the more you rely on your friends’ bookmarks, the less you’ll need to subscribe to a billion blogs.
Saved bookmarks on Del.icio.us appear as individual entries in FriendFeed. This is awesome because now I can see, for example, what Joshua Porter is bookmarking. Chances are, if he’s bookmarking it, I want to read it.
I used to appreciate when people would have a post of “this week’s links on Ma.gnolia” or whatever. I didn’t want to have to hunt for their bookmark feeds. But now, there’s a downside to those blog posts. I’m now subscribed (through FriendFeed) to the blog feed AND the social bookmarking feed. That means I get duplicate content.
But, FriendFeed has all sorts of options for hiding this duplicate content. For example, if you have a FriendFeed friend who has social bookmarking links published in their blog feed, you can just hide all social bookmarking entries from that person. Similarly, you can turn off the other two features I profiled here—you can choose not to see friend of friends’ content or tweets that people “liked”/commented on.
So, FriendFeed can be a firehose, I suppose. But they have put a lot of tools in place to help you turn down the pressure.